Winter vacations are at hand, and many of us will be eager to get in some skiing.
The very first time I went skiing, a friend took me up a tall peak in Aspen, Colorado, saying, “Don’t worry, I’ll get you down the mountain.” He meant well, of course, but let me encourage all inexperienced skiers to avoid this mistake! I was not injured, thankfully, but it was a traumatic experience, to put it mildly.
So, I thought about my experience, and how to plan better in the future. I wanted to learn to ski. I did, and have become an enthusiastic skier in the years since I began – but it was done properly and with a process that let me develop based upon my abilities and risk tolerance, as well as the amount of time I can commit to skiing each year.
Like so much in life, a happy – and healthy – skiing experience begins with knowing yourself, your skill level, and what you want from skiing. If you just want to have fun, great! If you want to master double-black slopes, that’s great, too – but that may take more time and practice.
If knowing yourself and your skiing goals is the first step, the second step is planning ahead. Almost everyone will arrange their air travel and lodging arrangements well ahead of time, but you should also consider firming up your lift tickets, instruction time, any equipment rentals (skis, boots, helmets, etc.), even restaurant reservations, if you’re planning to dine out. Be sure to check the weather forecast in advance, too, and pack accordingly.
Set realistic expectations – if you are new to skiing, or you haven’t skied in a while, spend a day, maybe two or three, with an instructor. Don’t head directly for the double-black slopes if you are not ready for it – you don’t want to end up spending your vacation in a hospital bed with a broken leg or collarbone.
“Proper prior planning prevents poor performance” is one of my favorite phrases, but it is also important to build flexibility into your plans.
You may find the boots, or skis you’ve reserved don’t fit quite right, or don’t work well for you even if the fit is good. You may find you need more, or less, instruction than you anticipated; there may be more fresh snow on the slopes than you expected. Planning is essential – but plans must be able to accommodate needed changes. If your boots or your skis don’t work for you, whatever the reason, be quick to notice that, and exchange them! Make the adjustments you need to, so you do not end up with sore feet or ankles, and a miserable skiing experience.
Proper preparation for a skiing holiday can help make your trip smoother. It’s a form of risk management, and planning and preparation for risk management in your financial decisions is equally vital – you don’t want a broken IRA any more than you want a broken collarbone! Both can be extremely expensive (and painful).
Invest with amounts, and at a pace, that works for you – taking into account your current financial condition, your risk tolerance, and your investment goals. You will also want to allow for necessary changes in your financial planning, just as you would during your ski trip – because, if there is one thing we can count on, it’s the fact that we all will hit bumps, and it’s important to be able to adjust when circumstances change.
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