It's been 14 years since I consistently played golf. It's been more than 2 years since I picked up a golf club. Despite this absence, I am still confident I can hit a golf ball better than most people.
Where does this confidence come from?
I played golf from the age of 6 to 17 several times a week and every day during the summers. Out of every activity, it is probably the one I've spent the most time on.
Practicing putting and chipping in my living room. Hitting into a net in the backyard. Every day, standing 3-4 hours in the same spot 3 feet from the hole on a practice green to make sure I never miss a short putt.
The time that has passed since I was 17 is longer than the years I spent playing golf, but my confidence still remains.
Confidence, in my experience, either comes from pure stupidity (not knowing the risks) or from experience.
The results of diving head first not knowing the risks are that sometimes you get lucky and the results are good or you misjudged the risk and the results are bad.
But when confidence comes from experience the chance of getting "lucky" is much higher. Knowing what risks to look out for allows you to negate the negatives before they happen.
With golf, I've practised the fundamentals so much. I've drilled them into my head. I have rules of thumb I've learned to rely on to ensure a greater chance of success. How I draw the club back, the angle of approach when swinging the club back down, how I place my hands on the grip, how I relax my hands before I start my swing, my pre-shot routine to align my body to my target and where on the ball I'm focusing on to make a good strike.
These 6 things were discovered during my years of practice. As a result, they are what gives me confidence. It's the little things that you discover on your own about yourself that give you confidence.
I bet you there is something in your life that you have a high proficiency at, something that you know better than most others around you. Something you have a lot of confidence in. It may be a sport or hobby. It may be a very niche knowledge or a general knowledge. You know it better than everyone else. Maybe it's a proficiency in board games, art, travelling, electronics, working with your hands, solving problems.
Definitely, there is something you have spent a disproportionate amount of time on during your entire life. By the time you're 20, you have spent 58,000 hours sleeping. The other 117,000 hours had to be spent doing something more than just breathing.
Everybody has something they have confidence in. Think about what gives you that confidence.
The answer is probably time and experience. The other thing may be a mentor/coach/teacher. Someone to guide you for the next step.
Financial confidence works the same way.
The first time you learn how to buy something you want. You probably just got all the money you needed in one go and then bought what you wanted. You probably had some help from a parent to push you to pay at the cash register.
It doesn't take that much to buy that video game you want. Work a few hours, get a paycheque and buy your video game. It's pretty simple.
I remember my dad used to bring my brother and I to eat Pho, he would give me $20 to go pay after we finished eating. I was always the one to go pay since my brother is much slower and more calculated in how he eats his food. After dozens of times paying for our meal, I learned how to count the change we got back and how the process of buying stuff worked.
But bigger things take a little more effort, planning and patience.
Most people probably won't get a million dollar cheque for working a two week pay period so they can buy a house.
Naturally, we work small amounts and get paid small amounts. So to buy bigger things we need to manage our finances. That means saving money from each paycheque, investing that money, then using that money at a later date to buy the things we want.
Doing this is not easy for someone who has never done it before. It feels like a mountain to climb.
But with each successive paycheque, you get an opportunity to practice financial management. This builds your financial confidence. And in a few months and years, you'll gain the confidence and experience to make bigger and bolder financial decisions.
It's like how you are an expert in breathing and sleeping and eating. You've just been doing those things longer, so you forgot how hard they are for someone that has never done it before.
It doesn't take as long as you think. Financial confidence can be built up in just a few months of consistent practice. It'll become natural in no time.
Save Money Retire Early is written by Jon Lo, a barely 30 something change optimist, and personal finance guy. I believe anyone can be rich or poor, it's what you save that makes the difference.