Client Name: Mara Thon, Age: 26.2

As the sulfur from the fireworks at the 43rd annual Honolulu Marathon intermixed with the ocean salt, a cluster of runners (including myself) burst onto the route.

Long-distance running is very similar to financial planning, both require persistence, consistency, proper pacing and the ability to trust your process. For my first marathon, I treated the race as a client. Here are a few lessons from marathon running that might help you understand your advisor's financial strategy.

Quarterly Checkups:
My plan was to stop at only four water stations, as I wanted the stations to represent the four quarterly reviews I have with my clients. I felt guilty when I was three hours into the race, only halfway done, and had already stopped three times. So, I decided to change my approach by planning the duration of each break. I would stop as many times as needed, but for my shorter breaks I'd only spend a few seconds getting spackled by the volunteers' water hose. My longer breaks were reserved for drinking water and stretching. In business, lengthy conversations with my clients usually include market developments and portfolio performance details, while interim updates discuss more volatile market conditions. It's always a good idea to evaluate a plan, but long discussions with no conclusion can deter us from our goals.

Focus on the Long-Term Goal:
I was easily distracted by the signs and shouts from supporters on the sidelines. At one point, I was tempted to stop and listen to a band playing carols. I also had a good laugh at the young man who yelled at us "eat more chicken". Like the television stations and newspaper articles that proffer investment advice, we can't let every opinion distract us from personal goals. As my parents say, "You won't reach your destination if you throw stones at every dog that barks." You don't have to tune out the noise, but don't let every opinion become a distraction.

Find Motivation
There was an older woman whose pace I admired, so I used her as a benchmark and copied her stride for a few hours. She was my S&P 500, my NASDAQ, and my Dow Jones. When I lost track of her, I didn't panic. Maybe I outpaced her, or maybe she finished ahead of me. I didn't care because I still reached my long-term goal. In finance, we have to remember that every stock market index is a guide, not a leader.

What's your financial advisor's track record?