What the Seattle Seahawks can teach you about getting out of debt

In a hole so deep you can’t imagine ever getting out of debt? It’s never hopeless

seahawksThere were only two minutes left in the half. Pretired Mama and I sat on the couch stunned as the previously unstoppable Seattle Seahawks found themselves down 21-0. We began eating leftover Halloween candy just so we could feel something. Anything.

Already worn out from a very busy week of normal life plus a sick Pretired Baby and forced to spend most of my free time wiping up snot and scraping off the resulting “crustache,” I was exhausted. This game was too much. I couldn’t take it. I briefly considered turning the game off to get something else done.

But then I noticed something. The Seahawks weren’t shaken up. They seemed confident. Determined even. It might not be exaggerating too much to say they looked confident they were going to win despite their current situation. Quarterback Russell Wilson, in fact, almost appeared to be grateful for the challenge. He clearly decided he was going to need to show his team how to win and so he did.

With the ball safely in his hands, Wilson stayed just out of reach of Tampa Bay defenders and ended scrambling for a nice 16 yard gain. A penalty gave them an extra 15 yards and suddenly the stadium knew the momentum had shifted.

“A lot of really cool things that happened,” Coach Pete Carroll said later. “To see that Russell finds a way to get us into position to win again, he’s just a terrific football player and a great leader. He never thought for a second that we weren’t going to win this football game. He made the plays he needed to make to put us in position to do it.”

The Seahawks crawled back little by little to dramatically take the win in overtime. “The biggest thing I’ve learned is, if there’s any time left on the clock there’s still a chance,” Wilson said.

If you’re in serious debt trouble today you probably got there the same way one of the best teams in the NFL found themselves down 21 against the worst team in the league. (Those of you with health care debt get a pass.) They didn’t take Tampa Bay seriously. The Seahawks shouldn’t have needed to even break a sweat beating the Buccaneers. It’s the same way debt creeps up on people. Lack of focus, not believing it could happen to you, and a combination of many small mistakes.

Most people when faced with seemingly hopeless adversity simply give up. Sure, they may keep going through the motions. They may keep “trying.” But deep in their hearts, they haven’t adopted a winning mentality. A championship mentality.

No matter where you are right now, you can get where you want to be. It may not be easy, but it’s always possible. You’ll need to create a strategy and stay focused. In sports, champions aren’t the teams who buy the best talent (although that helps).

You can identify the champions by watching teams struggle through difficult times. Are they lazy and entitled or do they take the responsibility upon themselves to make things happen?

It’s no different for any of us. Sure, there is hard work ahead and there’s no shortcut to paying down debt. But the shift begins when the mentality changes. The first step to getting out of debt, not matter how much you have, is to shift your mindset. Know it’s possible, make a plan and you’ll get there.

Just like the Seahawks. See you next Sunday.

You’re next, Falcons! 

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29 Thoughts on “What the Seattle Seahawks can teach you about getting out of debt

  1. Ok, Nick. I’m not crazy about the NFL, as you know, but I do like your thoughts and writing. And I’m so glad I read on. It really is a series of mostly small mistakes that get us into debt. We’ve been going through documents lately. Now that we’re steadily on our way to debt-free, we look back and say, “What the —– were we thinking?” Oh we had a lot of nerve buying not one but two new cars while we still had two student loans and a mortgage to pay off (two of the three are gonzo! woohoo!). But seriously, it was our fault, and we take full blame. The fun part is crawling, scratching, and biting our way out of it together. It makes our relationship stronger.

    It’s official. I am now a Seahawks fan – even if I can’t watch them.

    • Pretired Nick on November 4, 2013 at 9:37 pm said:

      Ah Tammy, you guys are doing so great! You don’t find out what you’re made of until you hit some rough times.
      I have a love-hate relationship with the NFL (and all corporate sports). It’s rather amazing OSHA hasn’t shut down the whole league already. But it can be an exciting game and the poise and mental toughness of these guys is very impressive. Maybe you’ll tune in if we get to the Superbowl at least!

  2. Sorry to hear about Pretired Baby. We (I and Jr.) are sick too. It sucks to not be able to help them. Anyway, we’ll all be better next week.
    Seahawks are that good this year? Nice. We only watch the Superbowl here. :)
    Joe recently posted…Don’t put all your eggs in one basket when you’re near retirementMy Profile

    • Pretired Nick on November 5, 2013 at 7:19 am said:

      Thanks, Joe! Yeah, hard to not be able to communicate with him, as well! Yep, Seahawks are on fire! You need to get on board!

  3. Great post! Hope is not all lost. I think if you work hard and are determined, it’s possible to persevere.
    SavvyFinancialLatina recently posted…Sailing on a Carnival CruiseMy Profile

  4. Good post, Nick. I have tried a few times integrating football and personal finance but, with the Steelers doing their best to make me punch a hole in my television, I haven’t had the urge to think about them more than I have to. :)

    Great comeback by your boys. They pulled one out of the fire.
    Done by Forty recently posted…Budget PornMy Profile

    • Pretired Nick on November 5, 2013 at 9:52 am said:

      Hey, maybe your lesson is that you stick to it over many (many!) years to get where you need to be. I grew up watching the Seahawks be terrible most of my life while the Steelers dominated the league. You guys will be back on top soon enough!

  5. Nicholas, I feel fortunate to have watched your journey over the last decade, up close and personal. Your ability to plan and execute has always amazed me. I remember the times we would talk about goals, and then within no time I’d see you taking the steps to achieve them. Thanks for sharing you insight, and proving even a poor planner (like me) has a chance to still be in the game.
    Tom | Tall Clover Farm recently posted…Vashon Island Halloween Spills Into the StreetsMy Profile

    • Pretired Nick on November 5, 2013 at 10:40 am said:

      Ah, thanks, Tommy! You also saw all my blunders and stumbles, don’t forget. Your pretirement is going great over there on the island!

  6. I was a little stunned by that half-time score as well. My wife and I like Wilson because we saw how well he played when he was at NC State. He really is a leader. I like how you compared it to being in debt. Nice work!
    Grayson @ Debt Roundup recently posted…Home Loans: Is It Time To Refinance?My Profile

  7. As much as action leads to results, I feel that bringing the right mentality to those actions is just as critical.

    Great analogy here. I think people often overlook one side for another when there is a whole team of aspects that have to play the game through to have any success of winning. Yes, Wilson led the team but each part was integral to the comeback. Not knocking the analogy. Rather adding that there are many aspects that should be addressed and acknowledged for success.

    Enjoyed this article!

    The Warrior
    NetWorthWarrior.com
    The Warrior recently posted…Vanity License Plates – – – Yeah, People Waste Money on ThatMy Profile

    • Pretired Nick on November 5, 2013 at 9:54 am said:

      Thanks, Warrior! For sure all the parts need to be there for it to work. But the most important thing is organizing that mix of stuff to make sure it’s used to best effect.

  8. well they were playing the winless Tampa Bay Bucs so anything is possible! =) But I will admit that was a pretty good come back. Seahawks need to improve their O-line though…well that’s what I hear as I haven’t been watching much football. Hope pretired baby is feeling better.
    Andrew@LivingRichCheaply recently posted…Is NYC Really That Expensive?My Profile

    • Pretired Nick on November 5, 2013 at 9:45 pm said:

      Yeah, that’s why I couldn’t believe we were even behind, but it’s also why we never took them seriously, I think. Yeah, our O-line is crap, mainly due to injuries, though.
      Pretired Baby is all better now, thanks! Fortunately he bounces back pretty fast.

  9. You can read all the finance blogs you want and save as much money but it will have no bearing if you don’t have the right mindset. You’re doomed to repeat previous mistakes if you aren’t committed to a complete change.
    Charles@gettingarichlife recently posted…Should Poor People Live Better Than The People That Support Them?My Profile

    • Pretired Nick on November 6, 2013 at 2:03 pm said:

      Well said, Charles! It all starts with mental attitude and desire. From there it’s just a matter of figuring out how to do what you want.

  10. Good stuff. I love the way you tell stories man! It’s true, and sadly many will always be the whiners who just can’t seem to find spare cash or save for retirement. Still trying to figure out why there is such a black and white difference…
    Cash Cow Couple recently posted…10 Reasons To Get a Credit Card TodayMy Profile

    • Pretired Nick on November 6, 2013 at 2:02 pm said:

      Thanks, Jacob! I’ve often wondered what the difference is myself. It seems to have a lot to do with personality type but also proper financial education plays a part as well.

  11. Being down 21-nothing at the half, that’s a pretty bad feeling. I would imagine some recent college grads might feel like that. Deep in debt, starting with zero experience.

    I bet those that strap on their gear and keep hitting hard their whole lives will make a strong showing, maybe even winning the ultimate title – early financial independence. Those that look at life like it’s a game that can’t be won will never win.
    Justin @ RootofGood recently posted…Join the Military to Retire Early?My Profile

  12. Pingback: I Can Do It When I Try | Root of Good

  13. Great analogy! Personally, am not a Seahawks fan (it pains me to check that little box down there) but Russell Wilson is on my fantasy team and he’s gotten me some great points!
    Lisa E. @ Lisa Vs. The Loans recently posted…Links Lisa Likes – 11/11/13My Profile

  14. The point you make in your last paragraph about the shift in mindset…that’s big. That’s where I was this summer after a series of financial events shook me from the path I’d been on. That really is the hardest part. Or maybe not the hardest, but the biggest part. Once you change the way you approach your debt, you are headed in the right direction, even if you have no idea what to do about it yet. The resources are out there.

    Well anyway, as you can tell I think this is a big deal, and I thought your post conveyed the message well.
    Mark @ Debt, Dividends, and Diversions recently posted…Fat Jack Double Pumpkin Ale ReviewMy Profile

  15. I busted out laughing at the end of this post – as an ATL native, I’m hoping you’re right about the Dirty Birds! Hey, we did manage to squeak by Buffalo yesterday..

    Great post, I enjoyed how you drew a parallel between football and finances. Especially loved your point about how anyone does in times of struggle – how you react makes all the difference in the world. You can sit around and pout and throw pity parties, or you can step up, make a plan, and take action.

    (and I just laughed again as apparently confirmed I approve of the Seahawks!)
    Kali @ CommonSenseMillennial recently posted…Achieving Goals: Power of Positive ThinkingMy Profile

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