4 Life Lessons I Learned on the Colorado Trail
By Steve Allender, CRPC®
Stretching 486 miles from Denver to Durango, the Colorado Trail encompasses eight mountain ranges and includes 89,000 feet of elevation gain. I completed this spectacular trail during the summer of 2020. You can even find a documentary of my trip on YouTube called Steve on the Colorado Trail.
Beyond appreciating the amazing scenery and sense of accomplishment, this experience was full of insights that I believe can inform not only our life journeys, but our financial journeys as well.
Here are four life lessons I’ve brought back from the trail.
1. Never Quit on a Bad Day
It’s a common saying among thru-hikers—because a tough day makes it easy to talk yourself into quitting. I had to battle the desire to call it quits a few times along the way.
One night, during a thunderstorm with heavy winds, my tent stakes were blown right out of the ground. My tent and I were left exposed to the downpour as I struggled to fix the situation. It was a wet and miserable night. But the next morning, a new day had dawned—more beautiful than the day before—and I was able to laugh it off.
I learned how to be resilient. It’s not that I’m invincible, but rather the setbacks don’t stop me from continuing on my path.
The same attitude of resilience is relevant when investing in the market. One of the biggest mistakes investors make is selling after the market drops. This only locks in the loss. It also leads to a second mistake: waiting for the stock market to go back up before reinvesting. This means you end up missing out on the gains.
Welcome the wisdom from the trail: Never quit on your investments on a bad day (or week, or month).
2. Plan Well and Then Be Flexible Enough to Change
I planned everything—how many miles per day I would hike, where I would camp each night, how much and what I would eat and so on.
None of it worked out as I planned.
For example, I thought I would finish the trail in about 30 hiking days. It actually took me 42 hiking days. This meant that all my logistics changed on the fly (resupplies, hotel reservations at town stops, how much food I had to carry between towns, etc.). Not so easy a task when you don’t have cell phone service in the wilderness.
But it taught me the value of flexibility.
Investors also need to plan well but be flexible. A good plan provides a road map to help achieve financial goals. Without a plan, you won’t know how to achieve your financial goals.
But the plan isn’t meant to be carved in stone. Life happens. And adjustments need to be made. But having a plan—even a flexible plan—is key to helping ensure you stay on track.
3. The Trail Will Provide
It’s another common saying among thru-hikers—meaning that when faced with a difficult situation, someone or something will come through with a solution.
One night, I realized that I had left my tent stakes at the last town. And I wasn’t going to hike 15 miles back to town to get them. I had to be resourceful and also trust that I had everything I needed to get through the night.
Being in the Rocky Mountains meant I had a plentiful resource at my fingertips: rocks. And for the rest of my journey, I successfully used rocks to help anchor my tent. The trail provides.
The stock market also provides. Sure, it has its ups and downs. But over the long term, it remains one of the few places people can invest their money for a reasonable amount of risk and get inflation-beating returns.
4. Rely on Experts
Perhaps one of the most important insights I gained was to learn from those who had forged the path before me.
I did a lot of research before hitting the trail. Much of it involved communicating with those who had already hiked the trail. They told me about equipment that did or didn’t work, how to deal with inclement weather, the mental and physical challenges, the logistics of resupplies, and much more.
By the time I started to hike the trail, I felt as prepared as I could be.
Investing and planning for retirement can be a daunting task as well. Financial professionals have the expertise to help you develop a plan, invest wisely, and help keep you on course when life happens.
That’s why a financial expert is one of the most valuable resources you can have on your journey to financial success.
How We Help You
Just like thru-hiking, life can at times be a long and difficult journey. But reaching your financial goals doesn’t have to be. At Acute WealthCare, our goal is to help our clients plan for life’s financial milestones, and be there with them every step of the way.
We offer comprehensive financial management so you can focus on living your life to the fullest. Schedule your 15-minute introductory phone call to get started today.