Up until the time I left home for university I played loads of sport and was rather skinny.  From then until I was 25 I kept my slender figure, but was starting to feel the effects of spending too much time sitting at a desk in the form of neck and shoulder pain.  From 25 to my early 30’s it was all down hill.  I had put on a lot of weight, was in chronic pain and couldn’t even walk up a short steep hill without stopping for breath.  Crunch time when my husband and I were watching Season 2 of The Biggest Loser.  After watching this we made a conscious decision that we wanted to live a healthier life, so we booked ourselves in for a 7-day health retreat that changed our lives. 

As I approach the 12th anniversary of having made that decision it got me thinking about what the two things nearest and dearest to my heart have in common, so here is my list of 12 things being physically fit and financially fit have in common.

1.  Education is where it all starts.  One of the reasons we booked into the health retreat was to equip ourselves with the knowledge to make better decisions around our health and to learn the tips and tricks for living a healthy lifestyle.  Being financially fit is no different.  Pick up book, go to a seminar, do some online research, talk to your accountant or financial planner, to make your start.

2.  It’s hard at first and you feel like giving up.  Making the decision is the easy part, but making the permanent change is hard and requires some sacrifice.  I find that whenever big change is required in my life it is easier to make small incremental changes over time.

3.  The longer you leave decision to get fit the more work there is to do.  I haven’t forgotten how much my legs hurt for a full 12 months after visiting that health retreat.  The temptation to give up was ever present.  Holding off on working on your financial future today means that you will have bigger sacrifices to make down the track and you run the risk of putting it into the too hard basket.

4.  It feels so good when you start seeing results and it even starts to become fun.  Towards the end of last year I took up yoga.  I was really bad at it and after 2 sessions seriously considered giving up, but decided to give it just one more go.  That was my break through week where I could touch my toes for the first time that I could remember.  I have continued on with yoga, still pretty awful at it but enjoying it none the less, because I can see the results.  I recently had the joy of hearing one client, who was terrified about managing her finances, say how much fun it was to finally start to understand the numbers in her business and watch her bank balance grow.

5.   Consistency is key.  The more consistent you are the easier it gets as your good habits form.  I find that when I take a break from healthy eating and exercise over Christmas that the first 2 weeks when I start to get back into it are really hard.  It straight out hurts and thoughts of giving up enter my mind, it takes time to get back into the healthy lifestyle rhythm.  Be financially consistent to avoid the pain and temptations of having to starting over.

6.  Eating lettuce gets boring and is not all that satisfying.  The weight-loss required for a healthy lifestyle is frequently associated with eating salad.  While that might work in the short-term, in the long term you aren’t getting all of the nutrients you need nor getting the enjoyment that comes with eating a variety foods.  Living a severely financially restricted life is no different.  In the short-term you will see your bank balance increase, but you would not being experiencing the full enjoyment of life.

7.  Setting a mixture of long-term and short-term goals will help to keep you focused.  When I started training at a gym for the first time my goal was to age gracefully and live a pain free life with ease.  Being only in my early 30’s at the time that was something way to far off in the future to get overly excited about.  I found the setting short-term goals like doing the 55km Coast Trek in Sydney or walking the 71km Queen Charlotte Track in New Zealand were a great way to keep me interested in fitness.  Do the same with your finances.  Perhaps a short-term goal could be to take a nice holiday, buy that pretty pair of shoes or go out for a special dinner with your special someone.

8.  Every body is different.  Everyone has different physically capabilities, body shapes and sizes and fitness goals just as they have different earning capacities, cashflow requirements and financial goals.

9.  Having a trainer, who understands that everyone is different, to guide, educate and motivate you is a game changer.  You get better results working with a trainer than what you can achieve on your own.  That’s why all of the best athletes have one.  Working with a trusted advisor on your finances will accelerate your journey to achieve your financial goals, in much the same way.

10.  Insurance is an important part of any health management plan.  You take out health insurance to skip the public hospital queues, and keep your health on track, if you get sick or injured.  Income protection insurance is there to support you if you are unable to work for an extended period of time due to illness or injury, to help keep your finances on track.

11.  Cashflow in your business is like the blood flowing through your veins,if it isn’t working efficiently you feel sick.  A business that doesn’t have strong cashflow places a huge amount of stress on its owner and its survival is at risk.

12.  Life is easier if you are fit – you do what you want when you want to do it. 

If you want to see how financially fit your business is try taking our Financial Health Quiz.

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