“'Come to the edge', he said. They said: ‘We are afraid'. ‘Come to the edge', he said. They came. He pushed them and they flew.” ~ Guillaume Apollinaire
A couple of weeks ago, I checked goal number 85 off my 101 Lifetime Goals list. I jumped out of a perfectly good airplane at 13,500ft; freefalling for 60 seconds at 120 mph before spending 5 minutes drifting the final 4000 ft down to earth under canopy as the sun set over Lake Simcoe. It was an incredible experience, especially as I'm not exactly a daredevil (I'm more than a little nervous of heights and have never even ridden a rollercoaster) and it taught me that not only can fear keep you from experiencing some amazing things but also you don’t know what you’re capable of until you try.
When it comes to money and finances, too often people are willing to stay in a situation that is less than ideal in order to avoid the potential pain of trying something new. Whether you’ve reached a point where the discomfort is too much to stand or you’re so irritated you just have to make a change it can still be intimidating to take the first step.
Continuing to hold onto a habit or belief that no longer serves you is never a good way of achieving your dreams and with a little research and some careful planning you can minimize the risks and maximize your potential for success. When I reflected on the process of planning my jump I realized that there were two principles that applied as much to planning a financial habit change as they did to skydiving:
Understand Your Motivation
Why do you want to make the leap? What are the benefits to your current situation of making the change? Maybe you’re carrying too much debt or maybe you’re not committing as much as you could to reaching a savings goal. Making a change might require some discomfort as you re-purpose your income or take on another job in order to meet your goals. Ask yourself if the short term pain will make the long term gain worthwhile? Is your drive to achieve your goal enough that when you feel the discomfort you’ll resist the temptation to give up on the change and go back to your original state? For me, I’d wanted to do the jump for a long time and I'd made a commitment that 2012 would be my year to conquer fears in all aspects of my life. I booked my first public speaking engagement for September and the thought of being on stage in front of a room full of people terrified me so much that I figured the best way to get past it was to commit to something even scarier! It sounds a little loopy but it worked; every time I got nervous about the event I reminded myself that compared to falling 13,500 feet from a plane it really wasn’t that bad! The seminar went fabulously and I discovered a passion for skydiving.
Do Your Research
I’m the last person to bash the joy of spontaneity (I’m a red-haired Sagittarius, so impulsiveness is in my nature) but I’ve learned the hard way that most of the time it’s better to have a plan. This is especially true when it comes to finances. Take the time to think about what it is you want to achieve, why you want it and how you’re going to get there. Make sure that your goals are S.M.A.R.T., seek advice from professionals and then do research of your own and go back with any questions you might have. Preparation and forward planning help ensure that your plan fits your goals and maximize your chances of financial success. When it came to making my jump I chose a reputable company who I’d researched and been recommended by friends. I jumped tandem with an instructor who’d completed more than 2500 jumps and yes, the risks were definitely there (and very clearly laid out in the pages of waivers I signed before suiting up) but the odds were in my favour and the experience was amazing.
Making an informed decision in order to achieve a clearly defined purpose under the guidance of a qualified professional you trust dramatically increases your chances of success. There are never any guarantees but life would be pretty boring if everything always went according to plan and it’s surprisingly how often we learn to fly from falling. At the end of the day managing your money well is key to building financial success but it doesn’t need to be complicated and it can even be a lot of fun. Just remember: it’s not rocket science, it’s pocket science!