Success stories are regular features of our Motley Fool 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 Billy and Akaisha Kaderli. At age 38, they left their fast-track lives and started traveling the world. We caught up with Billy and Akaisha in Mae Hong Son, Thailand. Here, Akaisha explains how to make the most of a volatile market.

Now is the perfect time to commit to your retirement goals. But with volatile markets giving us whiplash, and the talking heads in a seeming panic, your first thought may well be, "How can you say that?"

Yet you tend to find out the most about what matters to you, and why, in just such a crisis. If early retirement is your ambition, then remove any obstructions to that destination. Stoke up your internal fire and resolve to bring it about.

Sitting back and letting yourself be buffeted by circumstances over which you have no control is like admitting that you have little influence in bringing about your own future. When you place the responsibility for your life in someone else's care (or lack of it), you are excusing yourself from taking vital action.

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Instead, become a part of the equation by being an active player in producing the result you are looking for. Your passion for the future you desire can take you to a different thought process altogether, one that will lead you to take essential action steps.

But you have to stop just wishing. Wishing is akin to running your motor with the brakes on; you will simply exhaust yourself and have nothing to show for it in the end. Wallowing around in a low-grade malaise will never bring you to the conclusion you want. Here are some things you can do to focus your mind on the goal.

  • Benefit from market downturns. If early retirement is your long-range goal, then take advantage of these market declines by continuing to invest into it. You will be able to buy more shares in these downturns, and mathematically, you will be better off in the long run. Forget about timing the market, because jumping in and out is costly to your portfolio. Know your personality and risk tolerance, and ignore the daily noise of the markets to stay the course.
  • Make your dream yours. Give your dreams substance. Don't hide in a holding pattern or delay striving for your ideal future until "things get better." Know what motivates you toward your dreams, and write them down. Post them up and keep them in mind every time you get the urge to give up, or your interest flags.
    If you create a personal relationship with your particular bright future, then no one can take it from you. If you know why your dreams are important to you, it will put power behind figuring out how to achieve them. Don't let anyone drive a wedge between you and your dream.
  • Chart your goals. Know where you are going. Have specific financial objectives. Give yourself mini-goals for positive feedback along the way, and allow yourself modest rewards. But make sure the reward is proportional -- no fair taking a two-week cruise in the Mediterranean just because you saved your first $500! Motivation is far more productive than discipline, and lots more fun.
  • Involve your spouse in a friendly competition. We are all competitive in nature, at least a little. Take advantage of this part of our human nature by using it to fuel your goals. Set up a friendly competition with your spouse. See who can save more dollars, each week or month, or see who can save a certain percentage of their income.
    If you are single, or your spouse is less than enthused, then chart your goal and compete with yourself from month to month. Or join an online group, like the Fool discussion boards; it'll keep you motivated and give you something in common with others, especially if you are not getting enough support elsewhere.
  • Find inspiration on a daily basis and monitor negativity. We all talk to ourselves, but many of us are not aware of what we're saying. Start listening. If you find yourself thinking negatively, stop and replace these thoughts with positive, inspirational ones. Negative thoughts will conquer you if you don't conquer them, and you will never achieve your goal that way.

Passion is what will help you realize your success, not sitting back on your heels. Taking forward-moving steps is the bridge to your outcome.

It's never too early or too late to begin planning for your own retirement. To begin your journey, try a risk-free trial to the Fool's Rule Your Retirement newsletter.

Fool contributors Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired in 1991 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.