One of the most important days of the year for the sports fan arrived, and although my alma mater won’t be participating, I’ll be watching the championship tonight with so many of you. As we judge the performances — the catches that should have been caught, the incredible open field runs, and the ‘what were they thinking’ coaching decisions — I will wonder about the parallels to becoming a champion with our financial planning.

We all know the amount of work that goes into being a champion at anything. Even making a championship team, or making it into a good school, or tackling a major financial topic that weighed on our minds in 2010. Champions are successful because of the importance they put on overcoming their shortcomings on a daily basis. Improving is a constant state of mind.

It’s interesting to hear the press clips of champions. Time and again, successful athletes when asked about the big game, won’t brag, taunt or predict. They will say how they are focused on tomorrow’s practice, or the preparation needed to win the big game rather than the game itself.

There’s an important takeaway here for our personal financial planning. Things like completing a budget, or creating a financial plan, often require grunt work and time to achieve. It’s a frustrating process! And often our success is illusive because we focus on the game, rather than the steps to win.

So, as we become bombarded with noise about the economy, QE2, and all of the new buzzwords we’ll learn in 2011, think about what the successful athlete would focus on to succeed… these items outside our realm of control, or, the daily tasks and attitude we can create?

I encourage you as we start off 2011 with great hopes and expectations, to write down the things you can do on a daily basis to be more conscious about the areas of your finances that need improvement. That is not watching your net worth or investment values on daily basis; teams don’t win by only watching film. But, be conscious of the things that will lead to improvement: spending habits, seeking at all times to increase savings, and improve your own knowledge. They also don’t focus on forecasts (and here is why you shouldn’t either), since the forecasted teams and champion are out of their control (and never correct).

To help, leverage resources like the FPA website, blog, or your local FPA member for any additional coaching you need. Search through the great content that’s been added over the last year for information and guidance for life’s financial challenges.

And good luck for financial success in 2011!

The preceding blog was originally published by the Financial Planning Association®(FPA®). To view the original blog please visit the FPA Web site (

Author's Bio: 

Robert Schmansky has a wealth of personal finance experience in insurance, banking, professional money management, and holistic financial planning.

Rob began his career with a fee-only financial planning firm specializing in investment management and tax planning; he subsequently worked as an advisor for one of Michigan’s largest independent investment management firms before founding Clear Financial Advisors in 2011.

Rob earned a B.S. in human ecology from The Ohio State University, majoring in family resource management, and a M.A. in economics from Walsh College. His professional credentials include CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®), Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC), and Chartered Advisor for Senior Living (CASL). Rob is a participating member of the Financial Planning Association (FPA) and the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA).

A lifelong student of personal finance with a commitment to consumer education, Rob has taught required courses for the CFP® examination as an adjunct instructor at Saginaw Valley State University. He has been a contributing writer to the FPA’s blog All Things Financial Planning; an investment expert for FiLife, a former Dow Jones/IAC joint Internet venture; and a writer for other publications including Yahoo! Finance.

Rob is frequently quoted in the media, including the Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones Newswires, MarketWatch, National Public Radio, and other industry and consumer outlets.

In his free time, Rob enjoys coaching youth lacrosse, reading fiction and books on historical people and events, and jogging.