Our company decided to do Paintball as a team building activity. No one guessed it until a day before the event (they like to keep these things a surprise) so I was not fully mentally and physically prepared. Nevertheless I thought it was exciting and challenging as I have never done anything like it before.
I have always been competitive at everything. I like being one step ahead, making strategies, and surprising the opponent. More often than not I win at competitions – whether through effort or sheer luck. You should see me compete at kiddie party games!
A number of things came to mind while playing and I thought to share some lessons I learned and how I can relate them to personal finance:
- Discipline. To play effectively on a paintball game one has to be fit, and to be fit you need to exercise, and it takes discipline to commit to your fitness goals. You have to get yourself moving! You also have to learn to focus, stay on track despite distractions (like pizza and potato crisps). The same goes with finances – you lack self-control and discipline when you are struggling to pay your debts, you have no idea how to save, you always seem to run out of funds, and you don’t have ready cash in your account. You have to take control of your finances. It is about knowing your needs and controlling your spending on your wants, and figuring out how to save and invest. It is about discussing your financial state with people who might be able to guide you – family, friends, or financial advocates. Make it a point to discipline yourself so you can achieve freedom from debt and financial independence.
- Decision Making. In order to make the right decisions, you have to have the right tools. To enhance your game, ask for advice and tips from people who played Paintball before, read about the game, study the strategies and practice them. Putting into action what you have learned is what is going to make you succeed. In finances, there are so many free videos and podcasts. Subscribe to emails about budgeting and saving, attend training and seminars, read books, ask the experts. Join a social media group or page that will keep you informed. Learn all that you can. The right knowledge will help you to make informed decisions on your own.
- Be Prepared for the Unexpected. When you play paintball you have to wear the right gear to reduce the likelihood of accidents and protect yourself from injury. Your body needs to be covered in overalls that allow movement, wear goggles and the right footwear. In a sport such as paintball, the main aim is to hit your opponent; so if you are not wearing the proper gear, you could get hurt. I remember being shot in the arm and it hurt! I can imagine it could have been worse if I was not in overalls. The same is true in finance – you have probably heard about Emergency Fund and Life Insurance over and over again. These are important to prepare yourself for the unexpected.
- Patience. One of the greatest lessons paintball can teach us is patience. Learning a sport takes a lot of hit-and-miss, adjustments, even failures. Learn from these mistakes and move on. You need to practice and have patience – a lot of it. Growing wealth takes time. We should not get enticed by get-rich-quick schemes that guarantee great returns. Know the risks of what you are getting into and do a lot of research. Start saving small and create the habit, until you are comfortable to put away more as months pass. It took years for successful entrepreneurs to get where they are now. They started small and eventually grew their net-worth.
- You Don’t Win by Hiding and Not Taking Risks. Getting hit by a paintball hurts and leaves a mark on your skin. I admit the first time I got shot was a bit scary. After a while the pain subsided and I thought I would take another bullet if it meant my team will win. So don’t be so worried about being hit that you spend all of your time hiding behind a tree. Hiding won’t give you a good view of your opponent either. When you have just started learning how to manage your finances, spend less time on time wasters such as the internet and television and instead focus on participating on things that you wish you had more time for. Attend group discussions, seminars and workshops, and meet with successful people and learn from them. Learn about investments and know the risks. Start investing your money instead of keeping it in the bank.
Know Your Limits. You don’t just go out and start shooting at your opponents without a plan. You only have a few bullets to use, so use them wisely. At times we get too excited about our investments that we don’t think long term. We assume that because we have a job now, we will keep getting paid the same or more for the next 15 to 20 years. What if, God forbid, something terrible happens to our company’s structure and financial status, to the country’s economy, to our health? Do you have a back-up plan? Do you have enough money to sustain our lifestyle? Do you have insurance to cover our medical expenses? It is good to invest but you have to know when to take it easy. Know what you’re getting into, ask questions, and learn to say no when you know you can’t afford it. It is important to diversify your portfolio and find other sources of income, such as owning a rental property (more on real estate later).
- Teamwork. Your team should have a common goal – to get the flag. Paintball teaches us to communicate and decide what strategies are effective. Surround yourself with people who share the same goals as you. As Jim Rohn said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” There is another favourite quote from Warren Buffett that goes, “It’s better to hang out with people better than you. Pick out associates whose behavior is better than yours and you’ll drift in that direction.”
Paintball, like managing finances, gets easier over time. Expect to face challenges along the way but with the right tools and attitude, you will get there.