I was a Lieutenant at SEAL Team 1 when we got word that an op in Afghanistan had gone sideways. Three SEALs were killed, and one, Marcus Luttrell, was missing in action. Soon, I learned that the reconnaissance team leader who was killed in action was my friend and one-time roommate, Navy SEAL LT Michael Murphy.
Murph was awarded the Medal of Honor after he was killed in action trying to save his squad during Operation Red Wings in Afghanistan. Immortalized in the movie Lone Survivor, Murph’s legacy lives on today in the thousands of people who complete the workout in his name every year, the #Murph.
Every Memorial Day, along with tens of thousands of people, I complete the #Murph workout. The Murph workout is a grueling physical test. The event consists of a 1 mile run, followed by 100 pull-ups, 200 push ups, and 300 air squats, followed by another 1 mile run. Oh, and the whole workout is done wearing a 20lbs weight vest. It is a physical test of both stamina and strength.
So, why do a select few American’s put themselves through this hellacious ritual on a day that for many is mainly about BBQ’s and drinking with friends and family? They do it to honor those who have worn the cloth of the country and paid the ultimate sacrifice.
But few know it all started back on the beach in Coronado.
The #Murph Workout
In August 2001, I reported to Basic Underwater Demolition SEAL training class 237. When I showed up they crammed some of the officers into a dorm room in a building called 618. As I walked into my new home I noticed a pristine triathlon bike and a squared away, super-fit officer named Michael Murphy who was preparing to start the SEAL training class just before mine. Mike and I started talking and he said, “wanna catch a workout?” We headed out down the beach and sprinted a mile down the sand to the pull up bars. There we did a grueling pyramid of pull-ups, push ups, and squats. We sprinted back to the barracks at 618 after that. The Murph was born.
As we commemorate the bravery and sacrifice of our fellow service members on Memorial Day, it’s essential to consider the overall well-being of our military community. Just as we prioritize physical fitness to maintain a strong and healthy fighting force, it is also important to focus on our financial health to ensure that we are ready to be in the fight.
The good news is that the same techniques we can use to get in shape for a workout like Murph, are the same tools that we can use to become financially fit. It takes work though. Just like it’s hard to get in shape fast, it’s also hard to get rich overnight. Over time though, by adopting the principles in this article, anyone can get fit and financially secure.
It’s time to get ripped and rich. Here are some techniques for increasing both your Murph and your Money game.
Setting SMART Goals
In physical training, setting SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) goals is crucial to ensure consistent progress. Similarly, establishing SMART financial goals can pave the way for a stable and prosperous financial future. Just as you might set a goal to run a mile in under eight minutes or complete a certain number of push-ups, you can establish financial goals like paying off debt or saving a specific amount for your EAOS date.
SMART GOAL for Murph:
Complete ¼ Murph, ½ Murph, ¾ Murph each week prior to running the event.
SMART GOAL for Money:
Contribute $25, $50, and then $75 to a savings account over the next 3 respective pay periods.
Nutrition and Savings
Trying to get fit without a nutrition plan is like trying to invest without a savings plan. You need good diet habits to build a good body, and you need good saving habits to build a good bank account. In your diet you can achieve greater performance by things like eating at home, minimizing sugar, increasing protein, and not binging on junk food. Similarly, good saving habits, like staying in your budget, not overspending, not binging on liberty nights; will keep your bank account in good shape.
NUTRITION GOAL for Murph:
Skip dessert 6/7 days for the next month. No Fast food for 6/7 days for the next month.
SAVINGS GOAL for Money:
Switch from coffee to tea for 30 days. A Starbucks coffee costs avg. $3.65. A tea costs $1.95. That’s a savings of $1.70 per day. After a month, you have saved $51. Take your $51 savings and open a Guild investing account.
*Note, in both savings and dieting it is important to set goals you can achieve. An unrealistic goal is harder to achieve. Setting up a cheat day is ok. The same is true with spending. Buying a small reward for all your hard work is ok, just don’t let it become a habit!
Developing Financial Endurance
Completing Murph and making money are endurance events. Just as you build cardiovascular endurance through regular exercise, improving your financial endurance requires consistent effort, discipline and time. Consistently saving and investing, even in small amounts, can help you grow your wealth over time. Remember making money is a marathon not a sprint!
ENDURANCE GOAL for Murph:
Run 15 miles per week in the weeks preceding a Murph event
That is 3 mi per day 5 days a week.
ENDURANCE GOAL for Money:
Fund your Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) to the maximum match contribution for the next 365 days (Hint: Its free money!)
Diversify your workouts and your investments
A quick sea story. When Murph and I were in BUD/s there was this super ripped guy who trained almost exclusively shoulder press to prepare for log PT. He was strong as hell. He was strict pressing 315 overhead easily. Funny thing is, he failed the first two 4-mile timed runs. He washed out of training in the first couple of days, and never even made it to Log PT. He was too concentrated in one area of his fitness. Your finances are the same way, you want to be strong across different domains, in order to be able to weather whatever challenges life presents. In investing, we call this diversification. You want to have a balanced portfolio, not concentrate all your resources in one investment (strong legs, strong arms, good conditioning).
Just as a well-rounded fitness routine includes various exercises to target different muscle groups, a diverse investment portfolio can help protect your wealth from market fluctuations. By spreading your investments across different asset classes, you can reduce risk while still pursuing potential gains.
CROSS TRAINING GOAL for Murph:
Complete 1 non-Murph training workout per week. Yoga, Kickboxing, Tennis. A workout that involves non-linear planes of movement, will help balance out the body from a hardcore training regiment.
DIVERSIFICATION GOAL for Money:
Invest in at least 10 different stocks with your Guild account (You can invest as little as $1 per stock.) Once you have 10 stocks in your portfolio you will earn a diversified portfolio ribbon on your account.
Watch out for landmines
Life is full of landmines. In combat, the enemy often will plant hidden landmines to try and disrupt your operations. Part of the secret to operational success is to avoid landmines. In life, there are also landmines. The rock on your running path could lead to a twisted ankle putting you out of commission for training. Similarly in your financial life there are a host of landmines you have to be on the lookout for. Used car lots, payday loans, high interest credit cards are all sneaky ways to blow up your financial health. There is an entire predatory industry out there designed to take your money when you’re not paying attention.
It is important to arm yourself against life’s landmines. In operations we use ballistic protection to help protect our bodies. In finance, we use intelligence and preparation to protect our bank accounts.
INJURY PREVENTION GOAL for Murph:
Spend 10 min before and after each training session using a foam roller.
PROTECTION GOAL for Money:
Cancel any high interest credit card. Watch one financial education module using the knowledge tab on the Guild platform.
As we honor the sacrifices made by our fellow service members this Memorial Day, let us also take the opportunity to invest in our own well-being, both physically and financially. By applying the principles of physical fitness to our personal finances, we can build a strong foundation for financial success and security. Remember, we build wealth the same way we build strength, small gains over time. Strengthening our financial muscles will not only benefit us individually but will also contribute to the overall resilience and readiness of our military community.
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