Financial Planning and You: Three things we can all learn from Chris Borland’s Retirement

chris-borlandYou may have heard this week that Chris Borland retired. Why is this important and what can we learn from his decision? Well first, you need to know who he is. Chris Borland is 24 years old, which may seem a bit young to retire. He retired from the San Francisco 49ers football team. He cited concern over long term negative health effects from playing professional football. He was a rookie last season and had a very successful year, and by all accounts had a bright future and could expect to earn a lot of money during his career. Since his announcement, radio, television, newspapers and social media have been weighing in on whether this was a good decision or not. Besides the folks who are upset with him because they are big football fans, the biggest complaint people have is that he is walking away from millions and millions of dollars in potential earnings. He had a contract through 2017 that would have paid him nearly $3 million, as much as an average person earns in a 40 year career! So what can we learn from his decision?

First, have a vision for your future. He knew what he wanted for his life. He is going back to school to finish his degree and get a graduate degree in sports management. He told this to his parents and let them know he was only going to play for one year. Because of the clarity and vision he had for his future, he was able to make a tough decision much easier. If you have that vision for your life it will make financial decision making much clearer and easier. It is because of the context created that allows you to readily know if a decision serves your vision.

Second, do your research. He spent time researching the health risks associated with playing professional football in addition to what it takes to succeed in the field he wants to work in, sports management. He felt that a year of experience would make him better in his chosen field, but after analyzing the risk/reward relationship, he decided that the risks of playing beyond one year outweighed the reward. When making financial decisions, this is a step that is often overlooked to the detriment of one’s wealth. Make sure you understand the risks you are assuming and that they are worth taking. 

Third, communicate your decision to trusted friends and advisors. By discussing his decision and thought process to his parents and close friends, people who had his best interests in mind. This helped him to stay the course when faced with the uproar of negativity about his decision and stick to his chosen path because of the support he had available. If you build a team of trusted advisors and family members, it will help you to stay confident in your decision making. If you are confident that a decision is good for you, you won’t second guess yourself when others question your decision making.

All too often people find themselves chasing markets and strategies based on what others are doing and saying. They end up making decisions in order to fit in or make someone else happy. Worse yet, they make decisions without having a context to see if that decision is serving your greater plan and purpose. If we start with the end, we can set the path, which will make decision making far less stressful. By doing this, your choices are more likely to work out better than those made without this context. If you find you are having trouble accomplishing this, contact us, as we have a process to assist you in figuring this out. Here’s to your success, and Chris Borland’s too!

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