Mental, Physical and Financial Discipline

Jun 16, 2011

So, my brother just finished an insane 10-mile endurance obstacle course designed by British Special Forces called Tough Mudder. The course is filled with 20 different obstacles ranging from wall climbing, mud terrain, running through fire, swimming and even running through a 10,000 volt electric shock! (I’m not kidding). So it got me thinking, why? Why in the heck would someone do this? Are they trying to prove something? Are they just bored? After taking a minute to reflect on this seemingly ridiculous idea, I put myself in my brother’s shoes and I’ve come up with two reasons—personal accomplishment and teamwork.

First, personal accomplishment

At the end of the race they serve all participants free beer. Yes, free beer. That doesn’t seem like much of a reward after four hours of physical punishment. If all I wanted was to enjoy a beer, I could stay home and do that and skip the torture. But, and here’s the shocker. It’s not about the beer. It’s about how an ice cold beer tastes after a grueling day of battling your mental and physical forces! It’s all about creating a challenge or goal and then celebrating your accomplishment while reflecting on the months of sacrifice and discipline it took to get you in shape for the event. That’s where the satisfaction comes in. Achieving that end goal makes everything taste better. Your parents probably felt like this at your college graduation. They’re proud of your educational accomplishments, but they’re also proud of their financial accomplishment and sacrifice over the last 20 years. Remember, this is a finance blog. It takes a lot of financial discipline to be able to set aside X number of dollars per month to save for a long-term goal like college education. Maybe, a cold beer after the completion of Tough Mudder would feel similar to your first day of retirement (maybe that’s a stretch, or not). Let me know when you find out!

The second reason is teamwork

The event is not about your personal best, it’s about finishing. The event is about hundreds of disheveled, dirty, exhausted individuals battling against the course, not against one another. It’s about helping others in a time of need and leaning on them for motivational support. In a situation like this, it’s the support we give to others—even people we don’t know—which can end up being the most meaningful. For example, your favorite charity may need your personal time or financial assistance. A Saturday morning volunteering or $100 contribution may not have a significant impact on your life, but it may dramatically change someone else’s.

I’m not asking anyone to join me in the next Tough Mudder event, (Aren’t you glad?) But here’s an easy way to get that same feeling of accomplishment. Take a moment to thank the people who give you support and don’t forget to give your personal time or financial support to a local charitable organization in need. Then go have that beer!

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