If you're a golf fan like me, you may have watched 21-year old Jordan Spieth win the prestigious Masters Golf Tournament last weekend. He became the second youngest winner of the event (behind Tiger Woods) and set many records in the process. His win was a testament to what drive and passion can do to propel oneself to achieve a goal.
In golf, you don't necessarily need the best swing, longest drive or (even) the most expensive golf clubs to play the best. Often what goes on inside the golfer's head is the difference between excellent golf or “icky” golf.
I've read articles and watched videos about some of the best golfers – and one truth seems to sum up their success, time and time again: they rarely beat themselves.
We are often our own worst enemy
I often equate a game of golf to life. In golf, we play the ball where it lies, whereas in life – we play the “cards” God has dealt us. In golf, we need to a short-term memory to forgot that last bad shot so it doesn't affect the next one. In life, we need to continually forgive ourselves and others so we can move on so that bitterness and regret don't ruin what is before us.
I could go on and on. (And, I've even written about how personal finance is a lot like golf too).
Some of the most common sayings in golf revolve around the mental state of golfers. “Get out of your own way”, “Trust your swing” and the often quoted, “Be the ball” from the movie Caddyshack.
Early in my adulthood, I often beat myself (on and off the course). When I played competitively, I would do some pretty dumb stuff. One time during the state high school championship, I was too far away from a rake – so I raked my path back to my ball before taking a stroke. Little did I know – it was a 2-stroke penalty!
All of this got me to thinking about all the things we sometimes do in our financial lives. Here's a few that come to mind:
- Not saving. This took a long time for me to learn this – but having money in the bank is really important. You just never know when “life happens” and you need a little extra.
- Not taking advantage of free money. A no-brainer here which I'm sure many of you already do – but, by not taking advantage of the free money offered – be it coupons, 401k matching, etc – we are ultimately cheating our future selves.
- Not doing due diligence. Another area where I've beat myself in finances is by not checking the fine print or researching things. I'm kind of a outline guy – just give me what I need to know – I don't want all the details! But again – this can cost dearly (I wish I knew then what I know now about homebuying)
- Avoid advice. Pride is a real issue in us men. We don't particularly like to ask for directions or get help. Just give us the parts and we'll assemble the dang thing! But as I've gotten older, my parents and those older than me seem to get wiser and wiser. I wish I heeded their advice sooner. I always hope to weigh the counsel of those who are older than me or who've wiser and have “been through it”.
Can you think of other ways we beat ourselves?