"Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing."
Security has a price. Everyone talks about how risk is dangerous and sometimes unthinkable. It seems that everyone wants unmitigated surety -- the 100% guarantee.
But security never makes one courageous, nor does it make for life-changing experiences.
We all want our bases covered, and no one wants to be left in the land of the lost. But there is an energy about taking risks and facing the possibility of failure that adds dimension to our lives and creates memories that we share with our children and grandchildren and that we can reminisce about when we grow old. Sticking to a carefully laid-out plan that avoids challenges at every turn makes for a dull story.
To make my point, I'll share with you a couple of big risks I took over the years.
In 1971 I was 19 years old, and my then-boyfriend wanted to make an extensive summer motorcycle trip from the Midwest to California through a semi-Southern route, then up the West Coast to Alaska and back again via northern roads. At the time, this sounded like the most exciting thing imaginable.
I had $400 dollars saved and a vinyl, fleece-lined coat my father had given me. My boyfriend had $500 and a pair of warm gloves he let me wear when it snowed or rained. We owned sleeping bags and a tent. He had a 550 Triumph (oh, the electrical problems!), he was a good driver, and gasoline was $0.40 per gallon. What could go wrong?
We ended up traveling thousands of miles in heavy wind, rain, fog, and unbearable heat, but also on perfectly crisp mornings and brilliant sunlit days. We traveled the Alaskan pipeline before it had been completed and helped a friend build a log cabin on his property in British Columbia's Queen Charlotte Islands.
We tested our mettle, and we tested our relationship. Everything survived.
The memories of that summer don't fade into oblivion like the summers I worked in a department store and ate pizza on Friday nights.
I took the courage I garnered from this trip forward with me into my future. I found out that I was not a lightweight, and that spirit has served me many times over the years.
Similarly, after a six-month trip to Europe almost a decade later, my husband Billy and I purchased a restaurant with some creative family financing. Everyone told us that we should not pursue this venture and that we had surely overreached. We were 27 years old, and our financial futures were on the line. Failure wasn't an option.
Our blood, sweat, and tears paid for that restaurant, and it certainly was not an easy career choice. We didn't have holiday breaks, a 401(k) program, or an employee-sponsored pension. We paid for our own health care.
But, on the other hand, we matured young and built a sense of self-reliance that money can't purchase.
We still hold the perspective that if there is a choice between taking a chance that will enrich your life or staying put in entrenched security, one should take the chance.
When you look back on your life, the most colorful and outstanding memories are the ones where you reached for the stars -- where you put yourself on the line and took a personal or professional chance.
Risk has a price, but so does security. I think risk pays better.
About the authors
Billy and Akaisha Kaderli are recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance and world travel. With the wealth of information they share on their popular website RetireEarlyLifestyle.com, they have been helping people achieve their own retirement dreams since 1991. They wrote the popular books The Adventurer's Guide to Early Retirement and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible.
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