Lessons in “Jetership”

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at New York YankeesAt 40, Derek Jeter will retire after 20 years of professional baseball, taking with him five World Series rings, fourteen All-Star appearances, five Gold Gloves, five Silver Sluggers, two Hank Aaron awards and the Yankees’ all time hit title. All lame Ford commercials aside, Derek, on the field, stands for giving 100% of yourself to your goal.

Derek Jeter’s career has been highlighted by his work ethic and consistency—he worked his butt off to remain relevant for 20 years, when the average tenure in major league baseball is 5.6 years. Of course, he has a huge amount of talent, but it’s the addition of dedication and commitment that catapults him into a very elite class of players.

Need a little “Jetership” in your life? It’s all about your habits, your work, and your dedication.

1. What are your life goals?

2. Are they real, written and activated?

3. Can you measure your progress?

4. What keeps you focused and on track?

To carry being a champion over to your money life, having sufficient competency (talent) is necessary, along with the help of professionals who can help guide and coach you through areas that are complex and require specialized knowledge. Knowing what you don’t know is as important as knowing what you do.

Create goals that are realistic and meaningful to you and your family and memorialize those goals in writing. They need to pass the “why” test before they become real goals. Hint: money goals should support your life goals.

Activating your plan requires action steps and supportive habits. For example, if prefunding your daughter’s education is a goal, you must save and invest the appropriate amount actively. That means knowing how much you will need, where to put the money and actively investing the funds. You need to decide whether to use a 529 plan (and which one); to know the costs and what allocation to use; and to collect all the relevant information needed to make the decisions.

Measuring your progress is a vital step in achieving championship status.  If you are the type that completes a task and crosses it off your list forever, you are not actively involved in making sure you are headed for success. For example, your Will and estate documents must be reviewed periodically and not thrown in the drawer marked “done.” Laws change and your life changes, which means your documents might need to change along with them—your inattentiveness can create chaos for those you love the most. Ditto your retirement nest egg or your risk management package. It’s not one and done.

To stay on track, think about these steps with your money:

1. Review your written goals and plans on a regular basis to make sure they are still accurate and meaningful to you.

2. Praise successes! A tip of the cap for your efforts goes a long way to support your sacrifices.

3. Make adjustments where appropriate. Sometimes, it takes a different approach or another point of view to help move your progress along.

4. Recognize that the stakes are big. Unless you expect someone to drop millions into your accounts, you cannot afford to take your resources for granted. And those resources are more than money—your health, relationships and your work life are all valuable assets.

5. Think and act like a champion. Don’t worry about anyone else’s money or life decisions—stay focused on YOUR game, your goals.

There are lessons and models all around us who are daily reminders that we can attain great success, if only we are dedicated to making it happen. Just ask Mr. November.