During our Christmas holidays, we spent a week in the French Alps skiing. We are a ski family and I have been skiing for the last 20 years, on and off. I learned to ski from my husband, who is a good skier. He was patient enough to teach me and stayed with me on the bunny slopes until I improved enough to go on the more advanced slopes with him. A bit spoiled with personal attention, I never felt a need to take a real lesson. Something I missed back then was that while my husband was a good skier himself, he wasn’t a trained professional ski instructor. The end result? I got stuck at the “advanced intermediate” level, never quite got to ski like an expert.
Four years ago, I had a ski accident where I tore my ACL. A knee operation followed and it took me a couple of years of re-building my knee and leg muscles before getting back on the slopes. The accident had reset my skiing back to being a beginner again, so this time, I decided that maybe I should take a lesson, to help me not only get back to “normal”, but also to possibly break through the plateau that I had been in.
What an awakening experience I had during that 1.5 hours of lesson! I was shocked to learn that for all those years of skiing, I had been doing it all wrong in terms of how I shift my body weight when making turns. I was completely doing the opposite of what I was supposed to do. Funny how I used to keep wondering how come I couldn’t seem to improve further, but never actually did anything about it. The kicker was it only took less than 5 minutes of a professional instructor watching me skiing to identify my problem. I didn’t think I had any fundamental issue because I was able to “wing” it shaving the mountains. So, for my lesson this time on the slopes, it was 1.5 hours of UNLEARNing my old bad habits, which felt very counter-intuitive, uncomfortable and unnatural.
Afterwards, I kept thinking how awkward it felt when I tried to make the right moves, and while reflecting on this, I couldn’t help but to notice the analogy between my skiing experience and how some people handle their personal finances. For some, they “wing” it at dealing with their money, and as long as there is no crisis (like my accident), then there is “no problems”. For others, they may wonder why they feel stuck with their financial situations no matter what they do, the same way that I wondered about why I plateaued for so many years.
I’m thinking if I didn’t have the accident, nothing would have changed. I would still be skiing along my merry way in my incorrect forms, and certainly I wouldn’t be improving because I would not have thought to take a lesson. There was no “real need”, or so I thought.
So, here’re my questions to my readers: “how are you managing your personal finances currently?” Do you feel like you have been “winging” it, or have you been intentional and methodical in managing and growing your assets?” If you find yourself in the 2nd group, congratulations, keep up the good work. But if you see yourself in the 1st group, then maybe it’s time to take an assessment and make a decision on whether you choose to be proactive or reactive. Are you going to wait for a crisis to happen to force you into taking charge of your finances?
The choice is yours, today!