I’ve watched several shows on mountain climbing over the past few weeks and out of curiosity, searched for “how much does it cost to climb Mt Everest?” The result shocked me – the average trip costs $65,000 and takes two to three months. Yes you can do it for less, but in the world of high stakes mountain climbing into “the death zone,” do you really want the cheapest guide service?
Another statistic shocked me as well: 80 percent of all accidents that occur when climbing Mt Everest happen on the way down.
That means that despite overcoming incredible odds, numbing cold, a lack of oxygen, possible snow blindness, and incredible fatigue, not to mention the risk of falling from a 1,000ft cliff of solid ice, almost all accidents and deaths occur AFTER a climber reaches the summit. They happen after the goal has been reached, after the triumph, after the cheers and slaps on the back, after the celebratory satellite phone call, after the once-in-a-lifetime photo op. After spending months in preparation and tens of thousands of dollars.
It occurred to me that when it comes to goals, particularly financial goals, we expend so much energy in achieving them, that we forget about the way down. Too often, all our thought processes lay in hitting the goal, not in the plans for “happily ever after.” We pay off all our debt only to charge those credit cards right back up less than a year later. We create our emergency fund, use it for an emergency and then fail to replenish it. We set up an online savings account and fail to fund it. We put a few dollars away for the kid’s college only to never revisit it again. We buy tax software early in the year and wind up filing for an extension.
We’re great at setting and even achieving goals, but we’re pitiful at the “what’s next?” portion. I think we become overly confident in our ability to achieve and then slip, having our own accident on the way back down the mountain.
So the next time you set a goal, don’t just set a time limit for achieving it, set up a plan for what to do next.
- How will you live once you’re debt free?
- How will you replenish your emergency fund should you be forced to use it?
- How will you fund your children’s college education regularly?
Decide ahead of time, how you’ll handle the challenges of coming down from your own personal Mt Everest. Be careful, but more importantly, be intentional.
Photo by apurdam (Andrew)
JD from Get Rich Slowly included this article in the Carnival of Personal Finance #243: Valentine’s Day Edition. Thanks JD!