Once upon a time, in world far far away, kids between the ages of 6 and 18 played a game called dodge ball…
The general concept of the primitive sport involved two teams, 7 rubber playground balls and a mid-court line. The goal:
Get the other team out before everyone on your team got out.
Players could do this by either catching your opponents throw or hitting your opponent with a ball… preferably as hard as possible.
Alright, I am being satirical, but does anyone else miss dodge ball?
Maybe it is just me, but I learned some great life lessons growing up playing games like dodgeball, cul-de-sac hockey, and manhunt. In other words – there are many things we can learn from simple childhood games.
What sports can teach us about life?
In my early years, I was never the biggest kid. In fact, I was the smallest kid in my class every year my entire life. It wasn’t until college that I finally filled out some (As a junior in high school I wrestled at 119 pounds).
What I am getting at was that because I was small, I had to make up for my lack of size with effort and grit.
Yet almost daily, I see it as a teacher, a former coach, and now a personal finance blogger – excuses as to why something can not be done. “I can’t (insert anything) because of (insert a justified reason)”.
- I can't pay off my student loans
- I can't get in shape, I'm too busy
- I don't want to ________ it's too hard.
The list goes on. However, one of my mantras for 2019 is to be solution-seeking. And I think dodge ball is a great parallel to the life lessons we have all learned and continue to learn.
It is amazing what simple childhood sports can teach us about life. Here are 5 things that dodge ball taught me about life as an adult!
1. Life will throw things at us.
There are times when life, especially with regards to finances, will throw things at us. That is why I wrote, “Life Happens, Manage Your Money Better.” Just like red rubber balls whizzing by our heads, we are not always ready either.
Kid on the way, saving for a house, car emergency, and so on, at times we will are all challenged. For example, in March two days after my birthday, my dog ate cocoa powder resulting in a $4,300 emergency vet bill.
Or how about in 2016 when I had to take my car into the shop to get brakes and tires because of a nail in the sidewall of my tire…
As if my fortune couldn’t get any better, I was driving my wife's car to work while my car was being fixed and I hit a pothole that broke her rim and popped her tire.
2 Tires, 1 day.
VDOT claimed that the pothole was not identified prior to my issue and now all of a sudden we had a $1500 bill for two cars. The coolest thing about all of this – the bills didn't disrupt our lives.
Because we planned ahead!
However, not as many people have given themselves the luxury to embrace what gets thrown our way.
One in four will have what is called a “Significant financial disruption,” in their lifetime.
Sometimes we will get hit with the ball, sometimes it will miss us. Financial security is almost an oxymoron, you never know what to expect. That is why we must have a plan!
Note: In 2019, it didn't get any better. Our dog Morgan decided to eat cocoa powder one day and five days later my car hit the neighbors. So I wrote this: Why You Need an Emergency Fund (My Dog's $4,300 Vet Bill)
2. Planning and being prepared can make all the difference.
Dodgeball, like life, can be a lot more complicated than just throwing and catching.
Just like life is not all about working to pay bills, sometimes the best way to win in dodge ball is to have a little strategy.
Whether you are aiming for the other teams' best player or saving for the future, planning ahead is always recommended.
In an article called The Big Bad Wolf, I expand on the 1 in 4 chance of experiencing what the Federal Reserve calls,
A major financial disruption.”
Be it job loss, illness, death of a loved one, or ability to produce, 25% of the United States population will face a financial emergency at some point.
Planning ahead and being prepared can be the difference in resilience or a potentially really bad financial situation. While the events that may occur are not necessarily controllable, our ability to pay off debt, save and invest in our future is.
“Failing to plan is planning to fail” -Allen Lakein
3. Sometimes we make the catch, sometimes we drop the ball.
At times, it is like everything we do seems to go our way… ya feel me?
Then there are those times where no matter how hard we try it is like we can not get anything right.
Just like dropping the lob throw that cuts left at the last second, unfortunately, stuff happens.
Whether you're catching everything coming your way, or dropping the ball, realize it is temporary. In addition to things not going your way just being temporary, it is your response to them that is even more important.
Like the broken rim from the pothole, there was nothing I could do other than laugh it off and change the tire. Control what you can control, do your best, and realize that everything is temporary and what you make of it – both good and bad.
4. We don’t always win.
The former coach in me hates this, but we don’t always win. The last time I played dodgeball we lost to the worst team in the pool and beat the best team. How does that happen? It is why I tell parents to let their kids fail, and not to get too involved.
Well like anything, finances, dodgeball or our goals, we do not necessarily always control the results. Work hard, follow the 60/40 rule for saving to spending, and elevate your chances of winning.
Just like losing to the worst team and beating the best, it doesn’t always have to be about wins and losses. Sometimes the small victories like saving your first $1,000 or paying off your car loan are what you need.
Sure paying off all of our student loans will be amazing, but it started with just knocking out my small amount. Set some big goals with small steps to help you get there!
5. When all else fails, there is still another game to be played.
Realize there is always another game to be played. Chances are if you haven’t made the soundest financial decisions or choices, I know I haven’t, there is always tomorrow.
Draw a line in the concrete and make things happen.
Getting caught up in the here and the now was my modus operandi. When it comes to looking ahead, short term thinking is never a good thing. In regards to personal finance and security, it is a really, really bad thing.
If you know there is always another chance in the future to make things happen, things that might sometimes get you down should no longer impact you.
Go Take Action!
Q: Do you have any cool life parallels that relate to money? Comment Below!
Josh writes about ways to make money, pay off debt, and improve yourself. After paying off $300,000 in student loans with his wife in less than five years, Josh started Money Life Wax and has been featured on Forbes, Business Insider, Huffington Post, and more! In addition to being a life-long entrepreneur, Josh and his wife enjoy spending time with their chocolate lab named Morgan, working out, being outside, traveling, and helping others with their finances! I got serious with money when I used Personal Capital to track my finances.