Welcome to our experience with The All Powerful Motivator….FEAR!
My wife and I lived in Illinois our entire lives…until February of 2014. We grew up in the same small town of 5,000 people, on the same street even, less than six blocks away from each other. A town where everybody knows everybody. Three stoplights. After being together for a few years, we then moved two hours from home during the summer of 2010, remaining in Illinois, in order to attend college. We had this idea that small town living wasn’t for us anymore and, while in college (in a town of about 90,000 people), decided that once we graduated, we were heading for the city…Houston, TX to be exact.
You see, my wife knew early in her teen years that she wanted to live in a city. I, on the other hand, always felt like a more rural area suited me better. My grandparents live near the Garden of the Gods in Illinois and, spending a lot of time with them as I was growing up, that type of area is what I always thought I wanted.
My wife and I love concerts, live theater, and other amenities that are most often attributed to the urban scene and, due to our many adventures during the early years of being together, my desires for rural living began to wane. So, as we approached graduation, we began developing our plans to move to Houston. I couldn’t immediately apply for nursing positions there because I had to take boards first and then, to be quite honest, getting a Texas license is a little bit of a P.I.T.A. and the process took some time to complete. Because of this, we temporarily moved back home and I took my first job in Indiana, to which I commuted most days (nearly two hours each way :-|…otherwise, I stayed in an extremely cheap/sketchy motel, somehow managing to avoid getting loaded with bed bugs :-S) while working to secure a job in Houston.
During that time, I had also applied for every Indian Health Service (IHS) position I was qualified for, primarily due to the Loan Repayment Program, but never heard anything for months. Finally, two hospitals in Houston wanted to interview me so we drove down in January of 2014; I was offered a position and moving plans kicked into overdrive.
Within a couple weeks, we were all set to move and then, late one evening, my phone rang…literally six days before packing the U-Haul and heading to Houston (thank God we hadn’t signed a lease yet!) It was an IHS facility in South Dakota. Fear of changing our plans paralyzed me, kicking my “fight-or-flight” response into overdrive. I stammered through the initial call, nearly turning down the chance for an interview in lieu of holding true to my prior acceptance of a job in Houston. Thankfully, my wife was sitting there with me and told me to take the interview. Within a 36-hour window of time, our plans went from moving to Houston to my participating in a phone interview, receiving a job offer, accepting it, and adjusting our compass to the middle-of-nowhere South Dakota…exactly the type of rural area I had always envisioned.
The moral of my story: if the opportunity is right, take a step (or a leap) outside your comfort zone and be prepared to run the hell away from what you think is your dream.
Don’t be so dead-set in your ways and risk-averse that you lose sight of the opportunities staring you directly in the face. It would have been far easier and less horrifying to stick with our original plan, play it safe, and move to Houston. But honestly, we’d be friggin’ miserable if we were living in Houston right now. We’d be near our best friends, which would be incredible, but between “normal” bills, higher rent, student loans, and the like, we’d barely be treading water. Worse yet, I’d probably be working two jobs or my wife would HAVE to work just so we could make ends-meat. F.I.R.E. wouldn’t be anywhere on our radar and, without a doubt, I sure as hell wouldn’t be writing this blog.
Instead, we took a chance and ran away from what we thought was our dream. We have been immensely fortunate that our roll-of-the-dice has paid off tremendously well and we couldn’t be in a stronger position because of it. Because of our willingness to adapt our plans and take calculated risks, we are able to position ourselves in such a way that we will one day have the freedom to go anywhere and do anything we want, whether that may ultimately be living in Houston or, quite literally, any other spot on the map…or globe, for that matter! Having that freedom is both motivating and incredibly empowering. It has taught us a lot about ourselves, our willingness to do whatever is best for our family, and has brought us incredibly closer and stronger in our relationship. My wife and I are an incredible team and I know, without a doubt, that we can achieve anything we set our minds to…even if it’s out of shear stubbornness! 😀
If you’re part of the personal finance or FIRE community, new to the game or a long-time veteran, I’m sure you can relate to our situation. You are choosing to live outside of what has become the societal norm. No more do we accept the notion that we must work until 65 and beyond, saving a mere average of 5% of our income, succumbing to the whims of marketing and spending the remainder on frivolous crap that continues to rob our future selves of freedom, with ever-increasing lifestyle inflation, and thereby keeping us on the never-ending hamster wheel of chasing the elusive and almighty dollar.
Tell me about a gamble you took that paid off. On the flip-side of that coin, what have you done that didn’t quite go as planned? If you’re facing a big decision in your life right now, I’d love to hear about it. What’s holding you back from making a big move in your life? If you’re not up for sharing publicly in the comments below, please feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. While I may be out of fairy dust and magical wisdom to truly solve your concerns (nor am I really an expert at much of anything,) or necessarily ease your fears about whatever decision you may be struggling with, I’d be happy and honored to be your sounding board and give you my honest, impartial view of whatever situation you may be facing. I look forward to speaking with you soon; have an awesome weekend!