Two years ago I joined a cult. And it was one of the best decisions I ever made.
I was nervous and quite hesitant at first. I’d heard a lot of people talk about it and my curiosity had been growing for a number of years. I had fears and for a long time I let those fears be the decision maker, or rather my indecision maker. So I did the easy thing and stayed put (sound familiar?) where I was. I did nothing.
Then in May 2016 I finally gave in. I did it.
I joined a CrossFit gym.
WAIT! Don’t go just yet! This whole post isn’t about CrossFit. I promise not to ramble on about CrossFit.
And how awesome CrossFit is.
And how you should do CrossFit too.
But I have to warn you. The first rule of CrossFit is:
Tell everyone you know that you do CrossFit.
Ok, that’s out of the way. Now to the meat and sweet potatoes (paleo reference…see what I did there?).
Seriously, though. CrossFit has been incredibly good to me. At 31 years old I’m in the best shape of my life and I’ve been able to accomplish athletic feats that I never thought possible. I’ve started eating healthier and drinking less. But that’s not what I’m here to talk about.
After implementing this lifestyle change two years ago I’ve had the chance to reflect on my growth in and out of the gym. And I realized that CrossFit and investing have A LOT in common.
CrossFit is intense. It just is. If you’ve done CrossFit you know what I’m talking about. Nearly all workouts have time associated with them with the goal being to complete the workout as quickly as possible. A widely known benchmark workout in CrossFit is called “Fran.” It consists of 21, 15 and 9 repetitions of thrusters and pull-ups. It’s a short sprint of a workout and the faster you go, the more it hurts.
Intensity = results.
Without having that clock on the wall ticking away, we might be a little more inclined to take an extra break or stand with our hands on our knees catching our breath for just a few more seconds. But doing so would lessen the intensity and thus limit the chance of getting the results you are seeking.
The same is true with investing. Want to become financially independent and maybe retire early? Start saving now and start saving a lot. Think you can’t save more? You can. It might not be easy at first, but you can. When I first started investing we were saving 15% of our income. As we paid down debt and started seeing account balances grow, we bumped our savings rate up.
We upped the intensity.
We started saving 17%. And then 18%. Now that we have our house paid off we are over 25% with a goal of getting into the 30% range soon. But this isn’t necessarily fun. There are months where I wish I could just stop and take a break. I’d love to just go blow a few hundred dollars on toys. But that’s not the intensity that I’m looking for. And intensity = results. Get intense.
Surround yourself with knowledge
CrossFit requires all coaches to go through training and pass a course to become certified. Successful CrossFit boxes (what we call our gyms) have many things in common, but most of all they have great coaches. Coaches who are knowledgeable and passionate about health and fitness. If you want to lose weight, build muscle and improve your overall level of fitness then surround yourself with the right people. When I was trying to get my first ring muscle-up I needed advice and coaching. So who better to learn from than the fittest, most athletic group of people in the gym; the coaches. (side note, I got that muscle-up!)
The same philosophy applies to investing. It’s a seriously overwhelming topic for many people. And it’s totally possible to surround yourself with knowledgable individuals all over the internet. And don’t forget the library. Read, read, read and read some more. Immerse yourself in the topic and join forums. Ask questions and get answers from people with experience.
Gains take time
Have you ever seen those “abs in 3 weeks!” or “lose 10 pounds in 5 days!” programs? Ok. Have you ever seen one that actually works? Me either.
CrossFit has shown me that developing my overall fitness is a work in progress. Sure, you’ll make improvements initially and you’ll see some results quickly, but building muscle strength and cardiovascular endurance takes time. You have to put work in consistently, day in and day out. You can’t show up to the gym 2-3 times per week and then wonder why you aren’t getting any stronger and seeing the results you desire.
Building wealth and seeing your nest egg grow follows the same principle. This is a marathon and not a sprint. You must commit to saving 15-20% (or more) of your income on a consistent basis. There is no “get rich quick” plan to gaining financial independence. Try to avoid checking your account balances daily or even weekly. Check in quarterly and see your improvement and witness the gradual gains you make over time.
What are you waiting for?
So, are you ready to join a CrossFit gym? I’m a believer and as much as people who don’t do CrossFit don’t want to hear about it, it works. But you have to be intentional and diligent. You must put in hard, intense work on a consistent basis. CrossFit also gets results because of the camaraderie. It’s easier to become motivated when you have others around you suffering through a physically and mentally exhausting workout.
The path to financial independence is very similar to developing a healthy lifestyle. To get the results you are looking for (an early retirement, perhaps) you must be intense. It helps to spend time reading blogs and listening to podcasts and being part of the FI community. Try as much as you can to learn from the success stories out there. And be patient, but consistent. FI doesn’t happen overnight. Most of us won’t wake up tomorrow and be able to walk away from our job (as nice as that sounds). Do the hard work now, and enjoy the fruits of your labor for years to come.