A regular feature of the Motley Fool Rule Your Retirement newsletter service is our success stories -- profiles of people who have become financially independent. One of the most remarkable stories is that of Billy and Akaisha Kaderli, who, at age 38, left their fast-track lives, moved to the West Indies, and started traveling the world. We caught up with the Kaderlis, currently in Thailand, and in this article, Akaisha emphasizes the importance of knowing who you are and what you need from a partner when pursuing early retirement as a goal.

Some people have the idea that Billy and I planned our early retirement for years before we made the leap. We didn't. Our noses were to the working grindstone so long, they were flat. It was actually fatigue and thinking that there had to be more to life than work that led us to this point.

It was Billy who first proposed getting out of the 60- to 80-hour work week. I don't remember exactly how he presented the idea to me, but I think it was along the lines of what Groucho Marx said: "I've had a good time. This isn't it."

For years, I assumed I would "retire early," but to me that meant age 55. Thinking I would have a nice life in the meantime, I expected to have a great career with a respectable place in society, be there for my folks, family, and friends, and then slip into my new life with ease. But that's not how it happened.

We had been working days, nights, weekends, and holidays for years, and by the age of 37, this lifestyle was taking its toll. Something needed to change, and it seemed that Billy had the answer for us. He's like a bulldog with a chew toy -- a bulldog who also knows how to crunch numbers. He's the one who sat down, simplified our personal infrastructure from a what-does-this-cost-us point of view, and then laid out his findings to me.

Billy brought to our marriage his extensive knowledge of finances, numbers analysis, leadership ability, perseverance, and love of the new. I'm no slacker myself, and I don't give up easily. I'm organized, optimistic, and enthusiastic. I'm also willing to put off immediate gratification for a later reward. Fortunately, we're both independent, creative, willing to take risks, and full of wanderlust.

It was from here that we hammered out our plans for leaving the daily grind. Trade-offs between one lifestyle and another had to be made. We had plenty of what we fondly call "high-volume discussions." We had to make sure our financial boat would float, and we depended on each other to substantially contribute to this goal, in one fashion or another. At 37, we were at the peak of our careers. And in the late 1980s, the notion of chucking the rat race aside seemed absurd. People told us we were committing financial and social suicide.

In our situation, neither of us could have created this unique lifestyle alone. Both of us had to be willing to endure growing pains and come back to the discussion table again and again. And now, we have no regrets about our choices.

If you're like us and want to pursue the early retirement path, you'll need to know your strengths and weaknesses. You'll also need to know whether your family is on board with you, or whether you feel you're reaching for this goal on your own.

A satisfying retirement, early or not, doesn't just happen. Take heart. Become engaged in your life, clarify your plan of action, and be willing to ask for the support necessary to make your dreams come true.

Whether you want to retire at 38, 55, or 75, a 30-day free trial to Motley Fool Rule Your Retirement can help you reach your goals of financial independence.

In 1991, Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired from the brokerage and restaurant businesses to a life of international travel. Visit their website at RetireEarlyLifestyle.com, and check out their new CD book, The Adventurer's Guide to Early Retirement.