Who is Stealing from You?

Personal Money Planning |

By Gary Silverman, CFP®

I know you’ve been anticipating more life lessons from me since I ran the Oklahoma City Marathon (other than my talk about the museum). It is my pleasure to oblige. (Okay, none of you were holding your breath, but here it comes anyway.)

There is a saying, with questionable origins, that goes like this: Comparison is the thief of joy. I’ve found that to be true. When computers were becoming more prevalent, for example, I knew that once I got a new machine, I absolutely should avoid my friends’ newer machines, because suddenly my machine that I thought was a fast and speedy beast now felt slow and sluggish.

I am a very mediocre runner. Check out my stats from any major race I’ve been in and you’ll see that at best I come in the middle of the pack in my age group. In other words, average. It used to bug me. It seemed that the more and more I’d train, eat right, and study the course for the next race—you got it, I continued to be average.

Now if I had been some college phenom, winning NCAA championships and such, maybe coming in average at my age would be surprising. But that was never a problem I had. I was the guy in high school who was picked last for the team—and rightfully so.

Fortunately, early on I got the picture. I wasn’t racing everyone else. I was running for me. One of the greatest athletic joys I had was when I finished my first 5K race. I didn’t care what place I came in (at the time, I didn’t even know there were age-groups and medals), I was just happy that I could run the whole thing without passing out. Sure, I felt like puking as I came into the finish line. But I made it.

Then a little under two years later I finished my first marathon. Again, I didn’t care about the time, I just cared that I made it to the end.

Then this month I was shooting to finish the Oklahoma City Marathon in under 5 hours. I did it…barely. The fact is 4:58 is less than 5:00. I couldn’t care less that 666 others crossed the line ahead of me. My battle was with the course and myself. And I was happy—in pain—but happy.

In life, there are a lot of folks who aren’t happy. They look at others who the world says looks nicer, wears better clothes, drives a more expensive car, has a beautiful home, whatever. They are comparing themselves to others and not liking what they see. Why can’t I look like that, have that, live there, do that?

My suggestion (which I must remind myself over and over) is to enjoy you. Enjoy those around you. Enjoy where you live. Enjoy what you own, what you can do, how you can live. And stop the comparisons. Don’t let them rob your joy.



Gary Silverman, CFP® is the founder of Personal Money Planning, LLC, a Wichita Falls retirement planning and investment management firm and author of Real World Investing.