Pro-cycling is an extreme endurance sport. Approximately 35,000 km are cycled each year in training and competition (yes, that’s nearly 800 km’s per week on average over a 10-month season). Some races, like the Tour de France, last 21 days (approximately 100 hours of competition) during which cyclists must cover up to 4000kms.
For ten months of the year, these guys and gals don’t touch a sip of alcohol, weigh everything they eat and always get at least 8 hours sleep.
We all know that sustaining your fitness requires purpose and regular effort and your finances are no different. While managing your money may not require the level of control and discipline of a pro-cyclist, there is a lot we can learn from how they manage their lives.
By following these simple tips, you too can develop great habits and exert a much greater control over your financial life.
Here are my 5 tips to manage your money like a pro-cyclist:
1. Recognise the problem
90% of the cyclists in a professional bike race can’t win. Not only that, they have no intention of even trying to win! These “domestiques” (French for servant) work for the benefit of the team. Where they finish is less important than the help they give. And they understand exactly what role they are to play and what problem they will be solving.
Many people think that their biggest financial challenge is paying off their mortgage, but it’s not.
It’s actually losing your income.
And it will happen to us all when we retire. This lost income will dwarf any previous financial challenge you’ve experienced. You may need up to 15 times your current income in capital to have the same lifestyle in retirement.
To a cyclist, weight is everything. They just can’t eat what they like and hope to achieve their goals. They know what to eat, how much to eat and even what time of the day to eat it.
There is a plan in place for all aspects of their success - bike training, weight training, cross training, recovery, diet, hydration, psychology. All of this is broken down in to simple regular activities.
When you are looking ahead to figure out how much capital you’ll need in retirement, the whole exercise can seem overwhelming. Often, it goes straight in to the too hard basket!
So look at the next step, not the summit.
Just put aside week by week or month by month and your pot will grow, guaranteed!
“A bicycle ride around the world begins with a single pedal stroke.”
3. Do the simple things right
The great Eddie Merckx (he won 11 grand tours – a record) was once asked what was the secret to his success. He replied;
“I ride lots. In fact, I ride more than everyone else”
If you make the sacrifices today to do all the things you have agreed to do just like Eddie, the results will look after themselves.
Take your cash flow as an example. About the most effective thing we can do to get ahead is so basic, I’m almost embarrassed to say it – spend less than you earn and do something sensible with the difference.
Yet so few people do this successfully. People often overlook the simple because they consider it too simple – “That couldn’t possibly work”. They seek the complex, seduced by “hot tips” and quick returns (that sound a lot sexier as well!)
You are 90% of the way there if you can do the simple things right.
4. Be accountable
With such an intense physical program, it would be difficult to be ‘up’ every single day. A pro cycling team of 10 could have up to 20 support people as a result – strategists, coaches, doctors, physios, dieticians, psychiatrists, mechanics. All are necessary to keep their athletes on track. Even the very best need support.
Many of us in our personal or financial lives also find it difficult to hold ourselves personally accountable. We know what needs to be done, we just don’t always have the motivation to do it.
What accountability structures do you have in place? Your financial success could be relying on it.
5. Don’t wait for a problem
A poor finish is of course a good time to go back and re-evaluate to see if adjustments need to be made. A single bad outcome alone doesn’t necessarily mean any adjustments need to be made, but a professional cyclist has a constant process of checking and re-evaluating their progress to keep them in touch with their season.
As it is with your money. The smartest option today may not always be that in the future. Things change. Some obstacles may pop up along the way. Maybe there are tough choices to be made.
Check your progress regularly to see if changes are necessary.