12 Ways Building Wealth is like Losing Weight

Three years ago I got serious about my health and started walking. Regularly. Then walking slowly turned into jogging, and jogging eventually turned into running. I started running in races with family members for fun. And over that first year in particular I lost a meaningful amount of weight.

Through helping people manage and build wealth, I’ve noticed quite a few similarities between the processes of growing wealth and losing weight. Here are just a few:

  1. It takes time.
    There are always the dreams of winning lottery tickets, but they are just dreams. Patience is a hard-to-come-by trait in our instant gratification society, but tomorrow’s wealth is built by the actions you take today.
  1. It comes easier to some than others.
    I’ve met the “entrepreneurial Spirit with the Midas touch” who seems to make money just by looking at an opportunity. And I’ve met others who must trudge slowly, their savings growing just by putting one foot in front of the other. But the goal is attainable by both.
  1. It’s easier to chase fads than do real work.
    Get rich quick schemes are like the diet du jour. Why eat healthy and exercise 60 minutes a day when you can take this pill or drink this shake. Likewise, there are hosts of books and seminars designed to help you become a millionaire with a guaranteed strategy.
  1. Who you surround yourself with matters.
    You may have heard that your friends have a significant impact on whether or not you will gain or lose weight. The same is true of wealth. If everyone around you drives a fancy, new car, you’ll be more likely to feel pressure to do so as well. And that pressure may make you compromise and make financial decisions that are holding you back.
  1. It’s easy to put off until tomorrow.
    “I’ll start my diet and exercise plan as soon as we get through the holidays” sounds a lot like, “I’ll start my budget as soon as we get back from vacation.” Both are just ways we trick ourselves into not starting what needs to be done.
  1. It’s easier with accountability.
    I’ve built some strong friendships by running with friends – I even sold my house because of a running conversation. A team of professional advisors and professional peers can help tremendously along the way.
  1. It eventually feels good.
    At first, the process of budgeting (or exercising) may feel painful and constraining, but that doesn’t actually last very long. This eventually turns into freedom. Freedom to make the purchase you want without guilt or anxiety later, because you worked for it.
  1. The basics work for everyone.
    There is no one-size-fits-all budget just as there is no one exercise or diet plan that will work for everyone. But the basics work, and those components are in every plan. A doctor or personal fitness trainer builds a custom plan in the same way a financial planner builds a wealth plan.
  1. It takes a lifestyle change.
    Here I’ll concede that “living healthy” is a better title than “losing weight.” Because that’s the kind of thinking that made my weight loss actually stick this time. It wasn’t a phase or 3-month plan. I changed my regular routines.
  1. It doesn’t happen by accident.
    It’s not enough to have a general desire to change. You need to have a plan. A plan that accounts for your realities, limitations, and opportunities. A plan that is realistic while pushing the limits.
  1. It means keeping a goal in mind.
    But I really want that donut. I really want that car. There will be a never-ending stream of temptations to throw you off track. But keep the goal in mind. It takes acting with the future in mind instead of what feels good at the moment.
  1. It’s not the most important thing.
    Both losing weight and building wealth can be very satisfying experiences. But they are both dangerous when they become the ends instead of a means. Failing to achieve either does not spell the end of the world. And attainment of either can come at the cost of the most important things: the people around you and the purpose you fulfill.
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