I watched my girlfriend jump out of the plane first. Was she as scared as I was? Now it was my turn. I waddled over to the door attached to my skydiving instructor. Dave was his name. He had been doing this for 13 years. And he is still alive!? What if this is the one time something goes wrong? Is my harness done up right? Is our parachute ok?
At this point we were sitting at the edge with my feet dangling out of a perfectly good plane. What am I getting myself into? 12,500 feet from the ground which I missed so dearly at this point. There was no going back.
Dave then shoved us out of the plane. I screamed for my life, which I was convinced was about to come to an end very soon. But after a few seconds of horror, adrenaline kicked in. It felt liberating. After 45 seconds of free-falling, Dave pulled the parachute. For the next five minutes, I enjoyed amazing views as we glided at a more reasonable speed until our feet touched the grass again. I survived. And I loved it.
So there’s my story. On May 31st, 2015 at 3 PM, I jumped out of an airplane.
This was my first time skydiving. It was a spontaneous decision. I had just finished my last week of university. I figured why not. This was something I wanted to do for a while. I don’t know why I continued to put it off. “It’s expensive.” “It’s dangerous.” “Next month.” Next Year.” I’m sure there were many other “valid” reasons I came up with to put it off. This experience reminded me of when I was trying to start investing…
“The timing isn’t right.”
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” ~ Chinese proverb
Even after I booked my slot for skydiving, I still had my doubts. “It is a bit cloudy outside. Maybe I should wait for a sunnier day.” “I’m not feeling 100% today.” I continued to think about why the timing wasn’t right. But I did it.
The same idea applies to saving and investing. “The markets are overvalued.” “I will start to save when I get a raise.” “So and so said it’s not a good idea.” “I’m not intelligent enough.” “I’ll start next month.” “Next year.” It is easy to want to wait until the conditions are perfect until you get started. But there will never be a perfect time.
“It is too risky.”
There is risk involved with skydiving. In 2012, 19 people died in parachuting accidents in the United States. It works out that if you make one jump per year, your chance of dying is 1 in 100,000.
So you’re saying I could die? Yes.
But let’s compare this fatality rate to other activities. Roughly 34,000 people died in car accidents in 2012 in the United States. So if you drive 10,000 miles per year, your chance of dying in a car accident in any given year works out to be around 1 in 6000. So you are taking on a higher level of risk by driving on a daily basis than you would by occasionally skydiving.
There is risk with investing too. Corrections happen. You could lose 20%, 30%, 40%, 50% of your portfolio’s value in a short period of time. But if you look at the long term history of the stock market, there is an undeniable upward trend.
Just take the jump
David Schwartz, in “The Magic of Thinking Big” said that “a good idea if not acted upon produces terrible psychological pain. But a good idea acted upon brings enormous mental satisfaction. Action feeds and strengthens confidence; inaction in all forms feeds fear. To fight fear, act. To increase fear, wait, put off, postpone.”
Once you get started, you begin your learning process. You can only learn so much from standing on the sidelines. I decided about a month ago that I wanted to start a personal finance website. I had no coding experience. I had no WordPress experience. I had written a few essays throughout high school and university, but I had never written a blog post before. I do not have a background in writing. But I started Quest for Billions anyway.
I am still by no means an expert in any of these areas. But I have learned significantly more in the last month by doing than I did by researching what to do before getting started. I have made many mistakes already. I accidentally deleted my initial two posts when switching themes on my website. I also didn’t realize that my comments were turned off for the first couple weeks. These seemed like massive mistakes at the time. Looking back, I know they are just a couple minor hiccups along the journey. I will make many more mistakes. With my investing. With my website. With my life. But I am learning.
So what is it that you have always wanted to do but have been putting it off? Saving money? Investing money? Starting a side business? Starting a blog? Skydiving? Bungee-jumping?
To fight fear, act. Just take the jump.