Success stories are regular features of The Motley Fool's Rule Your Retirement newsletter service, where we share profiles of people who have become financially independent. One of the most remarkable stories we've come across is that of Akaisha and Billy Kaderli, who retired two decades ago at the age of 38 and began traveling the world. They wrote the popular books The Adventurer's Guide to Early Retirement and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible.
"Here, try this."
"Oh, no thanks. That's OK. I'm good."
It's so easy to say "no" to new things. We get comfortable in our lifestyle, our viewpoints, and our expectations. Trying something new just upsets the applecart. And who wants to do that?
We have our favorite hangouts, the foods we like the most, TV shows we prefer, and our cherished ideas of how our future should be playing out. But meanwhile, life continues to offer us alternatives that don't fit into our plans, so we say "no."
Being afraid of the new
It can be nerve-racking to place ourselves in novel situations, meet someone out of our social circle, or even try out a new menu item. And it sounds so silly or even annoying to suggest, "Just say yes to life!"
I would venture to say that most people don't realize they are resisting anything at all. Circumstances in their lives might be comfortable (or not), but the last thing that would occur to them is to open up to the new. The human tendency to dig our heels in creates a feeling of stability that can be very attractive.
As humans, we want what is dependable, something we can count on -- the predictable. If things are spelled out, we know what's in store, and we pretend that we can build on a firm foundation. The desire for security is strong in all of us, and there is nothing wrong with that inherent need. This motivation propels us to build cities, hospitals, schools -- whole societies.
However, the longer we live, the more we recognize how life shakes us up, whether we wish for it or not. Children leave home, divorces may happen, illness makes appearances, financial circumstances change. We get to the point where "new" means "risky" or "regrettable." Better to stay with what we know. It's safer.
What if change were beneficial?
Going through major changes in our lives can be tricky. We will often find ourselves hanging onto familiar ways of doing things, but perhaps those choices no longer work in a new situation. We hang on because it's the devil we know, and it feels safe.
Retirement means change
If you would like to retire anytime soon, chances are that this decision will require you to say "yes" to lots of new things while letting other things go. There is no way to avoid this, because you will be moving into the new. Perhaps you will be looking at relocating to a more affordable city, state, or even country. Unless you spend your retirement in the same town in which you are currently living, weather patterns will probably be different. The places you shop for groceries, places you go for entertainment, and maybe even local customs could be a far cry from what you considered to be an everyday experience.
One of the benefits of being financially independent is the option of opening doors that you did not have access to previously -- and maybe didn't even know they existed.
The more you say "yes," the more new things will come. Saying yes requires a sense of adventure, a sense of possibility. It also requires personal flexibility. Staying flexible helps to keep us mentally fresh and physically vigorous.
Moving into the extraordinary
While on occasion you might find that these choices are challenging, they can also be inspiring and fill a mundane living style with more energy. The ordinary can become extraordinary.
Being in exotic surroundings, perhaps learning another language, meeting interesting people outside of your previous neighborhood, and generally being open to happenings that aren't routine all cause your brain to adjust. You must now think differently, combining novel information and patterns with what you already take for granted. This process is very healthy and can make you feel more alive, even younger.
A different perspective
Are you exhausting yourself by pushing against a situation you may have outgrown? Why not open up to fresh opportunities and unfamiliar circumstances? Or at least not hang on for dear life? When was the last time you did something original or untried?
Loosening our grip on routine -- even just a little bit -- allows life to become a continuing educational opportunity, bringing with it unexpected rewards.
Why limit yourself? Open up to the new and find hidden treasure waiting for you.
Go ahead -- open up that door.
Billy and Akaisha Kaderli appreciate your comments. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
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