Upon moving down to the Western Cape, I joined a triathlon squad to stay active, meet new people and shed some of the kg’s gained in lockdown. Last Sunday I joined the squad on one of the popular bicycle rides from Stellenbosch to Franschhoek – and quickly realised where the Hellshoogte pass got it’s name from. We faced a strong headwind leading into Franschhoek and it really tested the endurance of the novice riders – myself included. Luckily we all made it to Franschhoek, save and sound.
After a nice strong Flat white coffee we started the journey back to Stellenbosch. We barely left and within 5km from leaving Franschhoek one of the beginners in the squad got a flat tyre. A flat tyre is fairly common in road cycling and the entire group quickly stopped to assist.
As we waited for him to start changing his tyre, he shared that he had no spare tyre or the tools needed to change the tyre (one of the cardinal sins of cyclist) and insisted that we should continue without him and he will phone a friend to come and pick him up.
Immediately one of the friendly ladies in the squad offered him her spare tyre and presented him with the tools needed. He then revealed that he’s got no idea where to start & how to change a tyre (an even bigger sin).
From experience, luckily I know how to change a tyre and offered to assist him in changing the tyre, and in the process he can learn how to do it in the future. He once again insisted that we should continue without him as he didn’t want to be a nuisance and keep up the whole group.
And then it dawned on me: This cyclist didn’t want our help, he did not want to continue, he is tired. He had all the tools available to him, he had all the assistance and support around him, yet he found one excuse after another not to continue. He made the decision to stay where he is and not to improve.
It’s unfortunate, but I see this happen in so many other areas of life too – especially when it comes to managing ones finances.
One of the areas I focus on in the last quarter of each year, is to assist the final year medical students to set up a financial plan as they start their career as a doctor. These student’s financial situation changes drastically from earning some pocket money as student to earning a more than respectable salary as a 1st year Doctor. Within minutes I can almost tell where each of them will be financially in 5-10 years’ time. You get students who really value your input and advice as they work on their plan to set themselves up for future success. Then unfortunately you also get those who doesn’t want to be helped. They will pay attention to it ‘one day’ or they will do it themselves or they first want to enjoy life and buy that car.
They have all the tools available to them. They have their parents, teachers and advisors who all trying to manage their finances, yet they don’t want their help. They are deciding to stay where they are, to not improve. I guess we all have been guilty of doing this in some area of our lives, whether it be health, wealth or in relationships.
But perhaps this week we can pay more attention to our decisions and excuses. Do we really want to move forward, do we want to improve. Do we really care enough to help ourselves?
Geo Botha B.Com Honours, CFP ®