Are You Hitting Your Braking Points?

Life presents an endless series of twists and turns for us to negotiate. They range in size, importance and frequency and they’re often unwelcome. While we might not see it immediately, they almost always have a money implication. How we contend with these transitions goes a long way towards our degree of satisfaction and harmony in life. Strangely enough, the world of auto racing may have something to teach us here.

The perfect cornerAuto races are often won or lost by how drivers handle the turns because that’s where much of the passing takes place. Drivers know that to win, they need to find the “racing line” through the turns. Experienced drivers know the racing line depends on the characteristics of the car, the cornering strategy, and the conditions. In other words, every driver has to plan her own line through each turn. Anticipation and balance are the key ingredients.

To assist drivers, markers are placed alongside the track to indicate the remaining distance to upcoming corners. Through practice, drivers use these markers to establish their “braking points”. Braking markers are a reminder to act.

To pass in a corner, opponents engage in a high risk contest to “out brake” each other. Time it perfectly and they overtake their opponent. Wait too long and they risk running into the weeds, or worse, the wall. In racing, a perfectly negotiated corner is artistry, a true thing of beauty.

Kind of sounds like life doesn’t it? As I see it, the difficulties we have negotiating the turns of our lives often arise because we miss the braking markers. Here are some examples:

  • An annoying noise coming from somewhere under the hood of our car
  • Feeling pain in our chests or arms
  • The smell of smoke
  • Recurring arguments with loved ones
  • Dandruff

In the realm of money, the markers we ignore include:

  • Debts that don’t reduce
  • Savings that don’t increase
  • The need to retire somewhere in our future
  • Our children’s eventual need for secondary education funding
  • Recurring arguments with loved ones

In life, unlike on race tracks, our braking markers can be hard to detect. That’s problematic because missed braking points have the potential to turn into breaking points. Sometimes, the best thing to do is anticipate the coming transition, take our foot off the gas and apply some brake. If we’re lucky we’ll maintain our balance, avoid the wall and put ourselves in position to accelerate smoothly down the road until of course, we hit the next turn.

Are you missing any braking points in your life?