The story of the tortoise and the hare is one of Aesop’s fables that can be simply summed up in the phrase “slow and steady wins the race”. When it comes to your financial journey towards retirement I’d like to point out that completing the race is more of a concern than striving to beat everyone else. If you’re one of the 87.5% of our population who reach retirement age you can choose whether you arrive well prepared or worn out.
Consider your own financial circumstances and complete a quick self-assessment. How much energy are you committing to long-term financial goals, like retirement? It is my observation from working with families all over New Zealand that most put all their effort into the goal that is immediately in front of them, with little focus on the longer term. (That is, if they focus on goals at all!
If you are the type of person who sets their sights on the next target and concentrates all available resources to its achievement then you are most like the hare in Aesop’s fable. You will sprint to your goal and reach it quicker than most. Tired from running, you will rest a while until you have the energy to sprint towards your next target. You tend to set your goals based on what you can achieve in the short term.
The other type of saver takes the tortoise approach and slowly and carefully takes diligent steps towards the destination, knowing with confidence they will get there on time. It is quite possible the tortoise has time to enjoy the journey along the way, as they are not expending all of their energy in the running of the race. Long-term vision is the strength of the tortoise.
The fable of the tortoise and the hare highlights the weakness of the speedy hare. His pace and early success created false confidence that became his downfall.
It is my opinion that positive, constructive discipline over a long and sustained period of time will yield greater results – without exception. How do you do this? Set long-term goals for retirement now and start the simple actions that will build sustained disciplines in your financial behaviour. Set long-term goals for debt repayment and action them; reducing the term of your mortgage is the simplest way to do this and, once it’s set up, you can be confident you are on track to achieve your target. Consider setting long-term goals to launch the next generation – think “legacy”!
The contrast between the tortoise and the hare comes down to design. The hare is designed for speed and is so focused on their pace they don’t care to enjoy the scenery along the way. The tortoise moves slowly with no desire to rush, happy to enjoy the journey.
The speedy hare has no time to stop to chat with anyone. The steady tortoise is moving slow enough to connect with those around them. Which would you prefer?