I’ve met many people both in person and in online forums that think they will always be stuck where they are. Why do these things always happen to me? Why can’t I get ahead with my finances? I can’t be happy because…., they lament.
I feel for them, or rather, I understand their plight, but I believe that defeatism is the only thing that actually makes their statement true. They believe that they cannot change, and that life will always be the same and therefore they never make the choices necessary that would actually change their lives.
But life does change, sometimes we bring on the change ourselves, and sometimes they happen around us.
Sitting here in Sucre, Bolivia, I think back to the many cultures I have come in contact with. Some have reinvented themselves. Some have been impacted by changes surrounding them. Others appear to be on a path to extinction.
TRANSFORMATION OF MEDELLIN
Medellin, Colombia is an excellent example of self-transformation, a city reinvented. Formerly regarded as the murder capital of the world, it is now a beautiful, clean, safe city. The people of Medellin, tired of the violence and crime, did what it took to transform their city. I was so impressed with the change in the city that it warranted an article all of its own on Violence and Resistance
CHANGES IN THE ENVIRONMENT
Then I think back to the Maasai village I had the privilege of working in back in 2006. The Maasai people have historically been nomadic. They wander through large regions of Tanzania and Kenya. They move around this area subsisting on their cattle herds. But the world around them is changing. The landmass on which they wander is shrinking. If they don’t adapt to changes the people group will die.
I joined an organization that adopted a village. This organization impressed me because it had a long-term commitment to helping a specific village. A commitment not to teach them our ways, but rather, ways in which the Maasai could adapt to the world-changing around them, ways in which they could continue being Maasai, but with cleaner water and more options for food supply and income.
WHAT IS REINVENTION
Reinvention: The action or process through which something is changed so much that it appears to be entirely new. – Oxford Living Dictionary
A reinvention of life is often a series of small steps or choices made each day that lead to major changes. These choices can change an entire community, country, or civilization. It all starts with individuals who change things around them or change themselves. They observe, they learn and they adapt. They have a vision and they do what it takes to get there. “Where there is no vision, the people perish” -King Solomon
I have always hated the saying, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” I simply don’t agree. Things happen that are out of our control and those things can make us weaker.
Victimized people can choose to be a victim the rest of their lives, or chose to be a warrior and overcome it. We choose our attitude every day and we can choose to turn those things that might kill us into opportunities that make us stronger.
Medellin did not change overnight. It took work and sacrifice from all sectors. Both victims and the perpetrators had to choose forgiveness and join together to transform their city. Every day they had to choose forgiveness. They also took a hard stance against current violence. Indeed, the thieves there today are in danger of mob retribution. The residents are determined to keep their city clean.
Examples of Individual Reinvention
“JimJim’s Reinvention Revolution” Is a podcast that explores the process of reinvention in the digital age as it relates to career, creativity, and technology’s impact on daily life.
When Jim asked to interview me about how I “reinvented” my life I was excited to be a part of his work. He is seeking to provide examples of how people can change, to give stories of encouragement to help others.
So over cyberspace between Sucre, Bolivia and the United States, Jim and I talked via google phone and found that we connected personally. Jim invited me to be interviewed on his show where we talked about how Trin and I reinvented our lives.
I mentioned in the interview that I really didn’t feel like selling everything, quitting our jobs, and taking off to travel the world was a reinvention, but rather just a series of choices we made in our lifelong track of adapting. We didn’t have the savings overnight to make this leap. It took us years to save up enough to retire by 43. On the other hand, according to the literal definition of reinvention, our lives are drastically different than they were just three years ago.
Reinventing your life is not just the result of a good day. It is a result of all the choices we make along the way.
We saved 75% of our income for years. We didn’t do it to retire early. Saving was just a mindset about money as I mentioned in our “Financial Independence without ever writing a budget” article.
We saved to make sure that whatever door of opportunity came our way we could take it. Financial independence gives us freedom. When circumstances around us changed we had the opportunity to walk away from them and “reinvent” our lives. Living below our means is a huge part of our freedom today.
One of my basic philosophies of freedom is based on change.
If something is not working don’t complain about it, fix it. If it can’t be fixed, be willing to walk away. – Click to Tweet
CHOICES THAT GAVE US FREEDOM
I loved my career and was having fun. Five years ago if you told me I would be writing this from Bolivia I would not have believed you.
When the environment of our company changed and we no longer felt that working there was a valuable use of our time, we reviewed our finances and decided to just retire. Living frugally and saving a large portion of our income had given us the freedom to just walk away. We wanted to find something more valuable to spend our time on. Time is one of the most valuable resources we have as humans.
I am passionate about freedom. Not just financial freedom, but freedom in the way we live.
THREE KEYS TO REINVENTING YOUR LIFE
Every day it seems I come across someone else who has made a series of choices that ultimately transformed and reinvented their lives. They have walked through their door of opportunity to live a more meaningful life. As I review their stories, I identify a few key things about what they have written that I believe are very important.
1. CHALLENGE YOUR OWN THOUGHTS
Steve Adcock owns a blog about financial independence called ThinkSaveRetire.com. He and his wife Courtney retired in their 30s because they cut out spending on all the things that really didn’t have a lot of meaning to them. They had a laser focus on what was important to them: being free, that is, free to travel, free to spend time in nature and with people they love, and free to choose how and where they wanted to live.
In his article titled “The world according to this middle-aged white guy,” Steve talks about how “we gravitate towards those similar to us.” We tend to hang out with people who think the same way as we do. If we want a change, we need to challenge our own thinking. If you feel like you are stuck, then perhaps a dose of new ideas is what you need. Read an inspiring blog from people like Steve who reached financial independence early and have a different outlook on life.
This brings us to my first challenge to you:
|Challenge: Make a New Friend Outside Your Circle I challenge you to start a friendship with someone who thinks entirely different than you do but has a habit or trait you admire. Maybe somebody that you wouldn’t normally be friends with. Be willing to discuss differences. Please, chose someone who is open-minded about having differences of opinion. Don’t subject yourself to a bully (and don’t be a bully with your opinions).|
2. LIVE WITH A PURPOSE
Then there is Tanja, the author of Our Next Life, and her husband Mark, the accomplice. That’s how they put it. I love that, “the accomplice.” They did not want to be tied to a desk their entire lives. They wanted to climb mountains and see places most Americans may not ever see. Tanja and Mark changed the status quo and did something different. They now live a life pursuing adventure, service, and creativity.
Tanja and Mark retired early and now run a blog and a podcast. They don’t do it for money, they do it for the community. They also feel that researching and writing about early retirement has been personally beneficial to make sure they cover every aspect of it for themselves. For them, it fulfills their creative goals, but primarily it fulfills their love of community.
I think their article about “what do you want on your tombstone” pretty much sums up their ideas on leading a life full of purpose.
|Challenge: What are you Most Passionate About? What is one of your talents that, if developed and put to good use, you believe could really help others? I strongly believe that everyone has talents. Maybe it’s fixing things, maybe it’s simply being a good friend. How can you use your talent now, no matter what your current circumstances are?|
3. SPEND LIFE DIFFERENTLY
Or what would happen if we did something like Jillian and Adam who sacrifice to give to others? They are people who show up when others are in need. Jillian is the author of Montana Money Adventures. Her blog is an extension of what she has spent her life doing: sharing what she has learned and supporting others in their journey.
She has written many tips on financial freedom. One of my favorites is her article “Don’t buy everything you can afford” where she states, “You aren’t just spending your cash, you’re spending your options.”
|Challenge: Look at your spending What was the last non-essential thing you purchased? Will you still have and love that item in five years? Are you spending your money on the things that mean the most to you or simply limiting your future options and opportunities?|
While everyone’s story is different, they are also all personal and filled with choices and opportunities. Reinventing your life is about the choices that you make every day. None of us have the same exact opportunities, but we all do have choices. Choices in our thoughts and in our actions.
You may not retire early like we did to travel the world, which may not even interest you. You do have a choice to be kind to those around you, to be encouraging, and to be a force that can change your life and/or the lives of others. Maybe you will even change your culture for the good.
Are You Stuck?
Do you feel like you are stuck? Does it feel like your opportunities are limited? Challenge yourself on how you see your own situation. Make a friend who can help you see it differently. Find what you are most passionate about. Find out what you can give to this world. You don’t have to drastically change your life. Maybe it’s just that one thing.
A meaningful life looks different to everyone. I felt I had a very meaningful life as a full-time employee working for someone else for many years. When it stopped being meaningful we changed it.
It is never too late (nor too early) to change. Well, once you are dead, it is too late – don’t wait until then.
Why We Blog
Trin and I started this blog for fun. It was an easy way for us to share our travel experiences with friends and family. From an interesting ride on a chicken bus, and being threatened in Ometepe by gangsters, to walking in dinosaur footprints or reveling in the beauty of death road, telling travel stories has been fun. I hope it encourages our readers to think just a little bit differently, to appreciate what they have, and understand others just a little bit better.
No two stories are alike. Your story will be different. My hope is that you are encouraged to find your own blue door of freedom.
|I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Are you going to take a challenge? Which one and what do you plan to do?|