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Last weekend at a men’s retreat with my church I was able to do something that I had never done before. We went zip lining and let me tell you it was a blast! I had always thought that zip lining would be fun but it was great to do it together with a bunch of friends who had never done it either. Having reflected on the whole experience, I noticed many parallels between zip lining and how we can handle our finances.
Considering I was a novice, the whole zip lining experience was pretty dramatic. You start by connecting a rope to your harness and climbing up a pole 40-50 feet to the platform that you descend from. Because I am not a climber, believe it or not the hardest part for me was probably the climb. It seemed like every step I took the metal pegs got smaller and smaller and my friends got farther and farther away. The key was to take it slowly, step by step, and not to look down.
When you get to the top however, it is not over. I still had to stand up on the platform and walk across to the other side where you zip down from. Even though I was connected, standing up and walking those 5 feet when you are 40-50 feet in the air made my knees tremble! Finally comes the fun part of falling off the ledge and zipping down the line. It should be all down hill from here, but you still have to nudge yourself off the ledge while looking down at the ground below. It just takes one second to do it, but it feels like an eternity just to get the courage to get off the platform. Finally you do and the rush of adrenaline is amazing as you zip down the line! You just enjoy the ride down and are thankful that you put yourself though all the discomfort to get up there in the first place.
The parallels between our financial decisions and zip lining are many. First the climb up the pole is a lot like when we take that initial step in trying to get our finances in order: it is VERY SCARY! Even though we have a budget as our rope to guide us, we often feel like we are out of control and could slip any second. That is because we are going somewhere we have never been before. So even when we get to the top we still feel scared because we have never had control over our finances and it feels out of our comfort zone. Even when we get to the point where we can see the finish line, it is still terrifying to make that last leap. We are so close but we do not want to let go of that last credit card as our security blanket in case of emergency, or drive that beater of a car for 6 more months until that student loan is paid off, or postpone that vacation so you can finish building your emergency fund. But when we get over the hump and cross the finish line we look back and see that the climb was worth it to get out of debt, pay for your car, or fund your child’s college education.
All in all, after looking back at it, whether it be actual zip lining or the financial climb you take, it is all worth the adventure in the end. The key is to take that initial step and put yourself out there by beginning to climbing that steep pole. The great thing is that after you do it for a few times, it gets easier and easier and you can then climb any pole or conquer any financial situation.
So what have been some of your experiences zip lining? Anybody have any successful financial stories of making the “leap?”