The past year my wife and I have been exploring various aspects of redesigning our lives. Cyndy is miles ahead of me on healthy diet and exercise, so I have been doing my best to be more disciplined. (Just can’t seem to give up the occasional bone-in ribeye though, sigh.) Another option we have been discussing has been early retirement. For us, that would mean giving up my salaried job and it’s health benefits. Our goal would be to achieve more independence in our daily lives, a slower pace, and the opportunity to pursue other interests. The cost, clearly, is security and predictability.
David Kekich observed “Security is the lowest form of happiness.” Tennessee Williams went further, “Security is a kind of death.” The American Dream was modeled on security, though. Most of us learned at home or in school that we should get a job with a good company, work there for 30+ years, collect a paycheck, and earn a pension.
I’m not sure that plan is still viable for most of us anymore. Most companies don’t offer pension plans any longer. Government employee pension plans are under attack as well. For me, however, I am revisiting my “American Dream”. And it may not include a 9 to 5 job and a pension.
The questions running through our minds include: What does my version of the dream look like? Is it similar to my wife’s version? If we abandon security, what are we abandoning it for? What is our risk tolerance? I would need to earn some money so I can pay for our daily needs – including buying health insurance. My personal goal is not to simply stop working, I’m more interested in “what’s next”. We have explored options of moving out of the US, adopting a RV lifestyle, or staying put but simplifying and economizing. Regardless of what we decide, we ultimately have to take a chance. Right now I feel like Bill’s rhesus monkey. My handful of security is keeping me tied to my job.
Change is usually anxiety provoking. We have a comfortable life. Walking away to chase a somewhat abstract dream might seem ridiculous to those around us. Just discussing our options has led to some sleepless nights. My father worries that we will lose our sense of connectedness to friends and family. My wife is concerned she will miss out on being the World’s Greatest Aunt. I worry about…everything! But I need to feel like my life is progressing. There is lots of life left to live. Changing things up really appeals to me. The irony is that the very thing that motivates us to redesign our lives is also the biggest barrier. I’m curious how other people handle change. Where do you place security on your priority list? Do your fears keep you stuck in that coconut?