Pete’s Path Pt. 1: What I learned from soccer: Conquer one thing at a time.

May 28, 2019 | Peter Galbraith


Conquer one thing at a time. In soccer, life, investing, and planning, it's amazing what can be accomplished when you refine one thing at a time. Each skill or step completed, automatically puts in you a better position tomorrow.

This is part one in a series called Pete’s Path where he explains some of the important lessons he learned in sport, and how he applies them everyday with clients.


As many of you know I consider myself a pretty sport-focused individual. I’m not a super fan, and I don’t follow any league in particular; I just love to play. I grew up playing sports, despite the fact that I was never the tallest, fastest, or most skilled. I enjoyed the competition and I really liked improving. I made my way through competitive soccer, volleyball, rowing, and now ultimate frisbee, and have competed and coached at the provincial level or higher in all of those sports. I’ve been lucky enough to learn lessons from some outstanding players and coaches, and those lessons have helped form my approach to wealth planning and investing.


Pete’s Path Pt. 1: What I learned from soccer: Conquer one thing at a time.

Like most kids I started playing soccer with a gaggle of other kids chasing a ball around the fields in a clump. Rather than trying to learn how to do everything all at once my dad helped me conquer one skill at a time. First, kicking, which was especially hard given that I had a brace that put a bar between my knees, a little like Forrest Gump. With all those reps I developed a pretty powerful boot and quickly was playing with kids older than me as soon as the brace came off. Next came defence where I practiced slide tackling every practice to learn how to do it successfully and safely. On my competitive team we always lost to Belleville and their star player. I spent much of that season learning to play defence against this one person, and while I was able to make sure he didn’t score against us in that big final game, someone else did. Finally, taking corners, and again practice makes perfect. I worked on the skill, envisioned it in my head, and in my last game of competitive soccer bent the ball inside the far post for the goal that would win my team the championship.


In soccer I could have tried to learn everything all at once, but my dad, smart guy that he is, helped me refine one or two skills at a time. In life we are often presented with many challenges all at the same time. It can be overwhelming to try to address everything all at once. Work, kids, friends, family, parents, health, home; it’s not surprising that retirement planning often gets put by the wayside when it won’t happen for 10, 20, or 30 years. But we can actually accomplish a lot when we just try to refine one aspect at a time, and it is very empowering to gain ownership of a new skill or strategy.


For young families what might that look like?

  1. If your employer matches your saving, do it! You can’t get that back later so you’re leaving money on the table if you don’t.

  2. If you have kids, open an RESP. The government will match 20% of the first $2,500 per kid every year. (I won’t even mention the tax-deferred saving and tax-reduced income paid on the growth.)


For adults starting to think about retirement what might make sense to conquer?

  1. Ask for help to build a plan. You’re hitting the time where your expenses are going down and income is going up. Ask an advisor to work through your yearly spend rate and figure out how much you need to save to support that.

  2. Understand your investments, pension, CPP, and OAS. Most people have no idea what their retirement will look like or how they will transition from saving to spending. Building your retirement paycheque is critical.


I’ve just hit retirement what can I conquer now?

  1. Have you implemented any tax-optimized withdrawal strategies?

  2. How long will your investments last and are they indexed with inflation?

  3. You can also consider whether you want to pay a lot of tax on your estate or a little bit of tax now. Helping children by building RESPs and TFSAs are fantastic methods of generous giving, helping them understand how to invest and plan for themselves.


There are many other options but conquering even one thing today, will automatically put you in a better position tomorrow. If you’re interested in conquering one new idea, or know someone who might be, please get in touch. We want your team to succeed.