Slow And Steady Wins The Race

slow and steady

“It does not matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop” – Confucius

When I was in my early 20’s I fell into the trap that many young people fall into; the got to have it right now mentality. I wanted the high paying job, luxury car, nice clothes, fancy jewelry, exotic vacations and everything else that comes along with being successful. There was only one small problem; I hadn’t actually yet become successful. Unsurprisingly, I did not build up much wealth during those years. It wasn’t until my late 20’s when I finally realized the importance of patience and hard work.

The Tortoise and the Hare

Most of us have probably heard the children’s story about the tortoise and the hare. If not, the story goes as such; there once was a speedy hare who bragged about how fast he could run. Tired of hearing him boast, the tortoise, challenged him to a race. The race begun, and the hare, being such a quick runner, soon left the tortoise far behind. About halfway through the race, it occurred to the hare that he had plenty of time to beat the slow trodden tortoise. He decided to relax and take a nap. The tortoise walked and walked. He never, ever stopped until he came to the finish line. The animals who were watching cheered so loudly for Tortoise, they woke up Hare. Hare quickly got up and began to run again, but it was too late. Tortoise was over the line

Moral of the story: Slow and steady wins the race

While the tortoise and the hare is clearly a fictional story, the ideology behind it is not. I often find myself taking on all of life’s challenges one after another. Sometimes it feels as if my body is going 1,000 mph and I have to remind myself to slow down. Otherwise I know that I will eventually get burnt out and crash. If you work slow but constantly at something you will achieve greater success than if you work fast for only a short while. The same applies to building wealth and financial success. There are no shortcuts. There is no quick and easy path. Let’s take a look at some of the ways we can apply this concept to personal finances.

Advancing In Your Career 

When I first graduated college I was super stoked. I was going to get a job in Corporate America where I would be making buku dollars and work my way into a senior management role in no time. Then reality set in and hit me like a ton of bricks. This whole high paying job thing right out of college with zero experience wasn’t as easy as I thought. I ended up taking an entry level position with a great company which I am still with today. Since then I have worked my way up through several promotions. It’s been a slow climb over many years but I finally feel like my career is on the right path. I know many people who are miserable working at jobs they can’t stand. Instead of spending your life being miserable, focus on the end goal and take small steps in that direction, one at a time.

Investing for the Long Haul

Many people wrongfully assume that the key to successful investing is being able to find the next Amazon or Google. Don’t get me wrong, many people have made a lot of money this way. However many people have also made a lot of money playing the lottery. And several others throwing down small fortunes on black at the roulette table. I think you get the picture. This type of investing lends itself to taking on greater risk where the chance of success is greatly stacked against you. The vast majority of people who have built wealth through investing have done it the old fashioned way. Investing small amounts of money consistently into index funds or building a diversified portfolio of dividend yielding large cap stocks. Remember when it comes to investing, it’s a marathon not a sprint. Eventually you will begin to realize the amazing effects of gains and dividends compounding themselves. There is nothing exciting or sexy about this approach but it has proven itself to work time and time again.

Saving and Paying Off Debts A Little Bit At A Time

If you are trying to save or pay off a large amount of money you will most likely feel completely overwhelmed and stressed out. Rather than focusing on that daunting lump sum of money you are trying to come up with, instead focus your energy on smaller weekly or monthly goals.  This will make your task seem much more manageable. Those small insignificant amounts of money will add up to large significant amounts of money over time. Each step you take towards your goal puts you one step closer to achieving success.

Winning The Race

Instead of expecting to accomplish everything at once, recognize that meaningful change takes time. The next time you want to accomplish something that seems unachievable just remember the Tortoise. Be patient. Work hard. Don’t give up. 
Do you agree that slow and steady is the path to success or did the tortoise just get lucky?

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16 Responses

  1. Gail Poyner says:

    Making sure you don’t overwhelm yourself is very important, especially when it comes to your finances. It can be hard to take it slow when you’re looking to pay off a large sum of debt, but making the weekly goals like you stated is a great idea because you can see your progress and it helps keep you motivated when you accomplish a goal. Great article!

    • FrugalFamilia says:

      Agreed, it can be hard to stay motivated when you don’t see immediate results. Just ask any new blogger! Glad you enjoyed the read.

  2. Good points. I looked for the quick fix when I was younger, mostly trying to trade stocks. But accumulating wealth takes years of dedication and investing for the long run.

    • FrugalFamilia says:

      Thanks for stopping by MCK. When I was younger I tried my hand at options trading. I’m lucky I didn’t lose much but looking back I realize how risky it was. Slow and boring is definitely the way to go!

  3. NZ Muse says:

    Consistency matters! It’s amazing how things can build up over time. That said, I’m struggling a bit with patience at the mo – as a new homeowner there are so many things I want to do, as well as kill the mortgage…

    • FrugalFamilia says:

      Congrats on the new home! As a not so new homeowner you will soon realize that there is always plenty to do around the house so might as well go at your own pace. Killing the mortgage sounds like an ambitious but achievable goal, just need to develop a plan to get there, good luck!

  4. I love this and it’s definitely a great reminder for me since I’m slowly paying off my student loans. I’m hustling hard, but steady. Eventually I will get to the finish line. Thanks for this reminder:)

    • FrugalFamilia says:

      Glad that you enjoyed the read. Be sure to let us know once those loans are all paid off, I’ll be waiting 🙂

  5. I can’t agree with this more! So many of us get into this “go big or go home” mindset and forget that all the little decisions add up in the long run! There are so many things i was intimidated to do a few months ago that I wish I just started small everyday and they’d be done now!

    • FrugalFamilia says:

      While you may wish that you had started a few months ago, better late than never! Thanks for stopping by MB

  6. The thing that I love about slow and steady is that it could provide someone with a retirement account that they can retire on with 100% probability. Getting extra returns is great and all, but I would choose a rate that would get me to where I want to be, without fail. That’s almost risk-free, in my mind and it all depends on how someone looks at it!

    • FrugalFamilia says:

      Exactly. Finance 101 tells us greater return equals greater risk and we should only take on as much risk as necessary to get where we need to go. Thanks for stopping by FS!

  7. Rachel says:

    Nice article and very well written. I find that I can easily let myself get overwhelmed when considering my financial goals of paying off student loans and building my savings up for the future. As you said, I have to continually remind myself that I have to make small steps and that eventually I will make it if I keep plugging away. Thanks for the tips!
    – -Rachel @ Tidy&Teal

    • FrugalFamilia says:

      Rachel, keep crushing those goals one week at a time and I am confident you’ll get there in no time! Thanks for stopping by, hoping to see a progress report on those goals at some point!

  8. Ms. Montana says:

    The start is always slow. Our first 100k in net worth took almost 5 years (although we were 50k in debt.) But then things started to move faster. The key is not getting discouraged by the work to progress ratio. Because it gets so much easier! Saving our first 10k was so slow and difficult, but now our investments might grow 10k in a months time.

    • FrugalFamilia says:

      Very true, the hardest part is definitely getting started. Once we do though there’s a snowball effect and we pickup momentum quickly. I too remember trying to save my first 10k and it was a slow, difficult path. Things have definitely sped up a bit for us since. Thanks for stopping by MM!

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