Runnin’ Down a Dream: Lyrical Advice for Financial Planning?

Jamming out to Tom Petty’s song “Runnin’ Down a Dream” the other day, I found myself reflecting on the life and financial lessons I found within its simple but profound lyrics.

Imagine the scene; I’m driving to the Los Cabos airport after dancing until 2 am in La Paz, Mexico. The windy road made me reminisce about my journey to get to this particular spot, and my sleep-deprived mind started to wax philosophical.

For the uninitiated, the song’s hook goes:

Runnin’ down a dream that never would come to me. Working on a mystery, going where ever it leads.

Petty reminds us that dreams rarely unveil themselves when we’re stationary. Walk, jog, or out right run – we have to pursue them. Elusive and ever-changing as they may be! And financial mastery, I believe, can be the fuel for this lifelong marathon.

I was dreaming of traveling and trying to figure out how to afford it when I first put “how to save money” into a google search. It took ten years, a lot of effort and willingness to navigate the unknown – but I was able to leave my job and travel full time for over a year now!

And it turned out, mastering my finances was the foundation of it all. Of course, only in hindsight can I connect-the-dots that got me here. The path was certainly not straight, without potholes or pit-stops.

Like the song says, chasing dreams is like trying to solve a mystery! We cannot know before we start exactly where we are going. We just have to move and feel our way through. Sometimes, it requires a little faith.

Had I waited for the path to where I am today to be clear – I would still be sitting in my cubicle today. Likely on a zoom call with annoying Larry from marketing, or something equally odious!

Tom Petty probably did not have financial planning in mind when he wrote this song. But I like to think that he wouldn’t argue that having a little cash would help you be ready for wherever the mystery leads. I know I feel more ready to follow whatever is next on the horizon for me, having put effort into getting my financial life in order.

So, whatever your dream – whether you’re looking to retire early, have a career change, start a business or aren’t exactly sure – start by securing your financial footing.

Here’s a few moves you could make today:

  • Start tracking your income and spending through an app like Empower.
  • Write down a short-term, achievable financial goal.
  • Read Your Money or Your Life, by Vicki Robin

Ready to start running down your dreams? Share it below! Put it in writing for the world to see. Maybe I can help!

R.I.P. Tom Petty. Thank you for your music and poetry. Hope you and Del are singing somewhere.

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