A few years back, a friend and coworker gave me a print out as a gift to hang in my office. It has this quote on it: “The expert in anything was once a beginner”. When she first gave it to me, I was almost offended by the phrase. I thought to myself, “Oh yeah? Well, maybe that applies to some people, but I’m no beginner. I’m the exception. I’ve got this!”. I realize now what a lack of maturity that was on my part. You see, my wise friend knew that I’d just taken an important risk in my career. She knew that I’d need the day-by-day encouragement of this little piece of paper to keep me from being afraid to fail. There was only one problem: I hadn’t actually failed at anything …yet. Mostly because I hadn’t really tried.
Those first few weeks, it was easy to slide by – hiding behind other responsibilities in my job, and avoiding those new things I knew would be difficult for me and increase my probability of failure. Eventually it started to bother me: I wasn’t even trying to be the professional I had said I wanted to be. I was hiding. Strangely enough, this fact didn’t seem to bother anyone else. It was clear that I couldn’t wait for others to motivate me beyond the fear of failing. The only solution was to grab some courage, mix it with some integrity, and take a leap!
Risking in private is one thing, but risking with witnesses --- that’s character development. Expertise is gained by repeated practice. Failure is the most common result of practice. It sounds like an unfortunate and bothersome byproduct, but failure builds the character necessary to maintain success. A favorite saying of a colleague of mine is, “it took me 30 years to be an overnight success”.
Risk has rewards. Failure is a sharp tool and though it’s often painful, it’s quite efficient. You can’t avoid it and achieve growth - might as well embrace it and hang on for the ride! Keep others by your side who have also embraced this ability to “fail-forward”. They’ll help you process the failure correctly and remind you to get back up when you feel like giving up. Oh, and it is true, no expert started out that way.
What Unique Challenges Do Women Face In Achieving a Financially Secure Retirement?
Women can face special challenges when saving for retirement. Generally speaking, women tend to spend less time in the workforce, and when they do work, they typically earn less than men in comparable jobs. As a result, women's retirement plan balances, Social Security benefits, and pension benefits are often lower than their male counterparts. In addition, women generally live longer than men, so they typically have to stretch their retirement savings and benefits over a longer period of time. What can you do to maximize your chances of achieving a financially secure retirement? Start saving as soon as possible. The best time to start saving for retirement is in your 20s; the second best time is right now. At every stage of your life, there will always be other financial needs competing with the need to save for retirement. Don't make the mistake of assuming it will be easier to save for retirement in 5, 10, or 15 years. It won't. Start small, with whatever amount you can afford, and contribute regularly, adding to your contribution when you can.
If you're in the workforce, an employer retirement plan like a 401(k) plan can be a convenient, no hassle way to get started and build your retirement nest egg--contributions are deducted automatically from your paycheck and may qualify you for employer matching funds. If you're out of the workforce and married, you can contribute to an IRA (traditional or Roth), provided your spouse earns enough to cover the contributions. In many cases, your job is your lifeline to being able to save for retirement. Before leaving the workforce for family obligations, consider exploring with your employer the possibility of flexible work arrangements, including telecommuting and part-time work, that might enable you to continue to earn a paycheck as you balance your family obligations. Start planning now by taking the following steps: (1) set a retirement savings goal; (2) start saving as much as you can on a regular basis, and track your progress at least twice per year; and (3) find out how much you can expect to receive from Social Security at www.socialsecurity.gov.
Content prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2013
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