You Don’t Know It, but Your Big Risk Controls Your Life.

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Life is either a daring adventure or nothing — Helen Keller quoteEverything you do carries some risk. The things you’ve done today? A multitude of things could’ve gone horribly wrong.

When you drive a car, you accept the risk of running into a traffic jam, a bad driver or freak weather. When you shop with a credit card, you accept the risk of becoming victim to a fraud (even if you only shop at big, reputable retailers like Target).

There’s a risk to everything, but not everything seems risky.


What do you consider risky?

As a traveler, you may have friends who think you’re taking a risk by going to places they consider to be dangerous. In return, you may think they’re facing a more serious danger of not really living life.

If you freelance to fund a nomadic lifestyle, your friends may think you’re crazy for saying no to the security of a stable income. But you may think they’re putting all their eggs in one precarious basket by depending on just one employer.

Over the course of your life, what you consider risky defines who you are and what kind of a life you live.


What do you think are the risks of travel in retirement?

A while back, I wrote about how multiple studies found that many people wouldn’t be able to travel much in retirement, mainly because people don’t do enough to prepare for a life of travel on their retirement savings.

From these studies, I took away the message that I should get my finances in order, so that I could travel as much as I want to when I retire.

Life is inherently risky. Denis Waitley quote.

I was surprised by the way other people reacted to the story. In the Comments section and on Twitter, they told me that because they might not be able to travel when they retire, they would rather travel now. They also brought up the issue of health — that maybe by the time they retire, their bodies wouldn’t be able to withstand much travel — and how that also meant that they would rather travel now.

These are valid issues, but I didn’t see things from that angle at first. I started to wonder why.


There’s no right or wrong; only the opportunity to learn more about yourself

For a 20-something, I think about retirement a lot. I want to secure my financial future now so I won’t have to worry about money ever.

For me, there are few things more terrifying than the sight of miserable old people struggling on public transport, working minimum-wage jobs and shopping at thrift stores. That’s where I’m coming from; that’s my Big Risk.

I can see how growing old without having had the opportunity to travel can be someone else’s worst nightmare. This might seem weird, coming from a travel blogger, but that is not one of my biggest fears in life. As much as I love travel, not having had the chance to travel is not my Big Risk. That’s why I saw things differently than my commenters.


How Big Risk controls your life

Perhaps more than anything else, your Big Risk steers your way through life and makes decisions for you.

Because my Big Risk is not being able to retire, I design my life in such a way as to make early retirement a priority.  To prevent my Big Risk from happening, I’m willing to take on other risks that don’t scare me as much.

I make sacrifices like cutting down on my biggest expenses and recurring bills. I forgo a regular job because I don’t care for the “corporate ladder”. Instead, I put my money and time toward building passive income. I also work on creating a career as a freelancer so I’ll have some enjoyable work to do in semi-retirement. I even put off full-time travel until I’ve built enough financial safety net to fully support a location independent lifestyle.

Any one of the things I do could seem unacceptably risky to someone else.

Jeanette Winterson Quote: There is no discovery without risk and what you risk reveals what you value

But, for me, those are the small risks I’m willing to take in order to avoid my Big Risk of not being able to retire. As a bonus, early retirement also means I’ll be able to avoid my other Big Risk of having no time to spend with my loved ones. Two birds, meet my one stone.


What’s your Big Risk and how does it affect the way you live your life?


Images: 1. Laura Hadden (CC BY 2.0 License); 2. Courtesy of ProQuoter ; 3. Justin De La Ornellas (CC BY 2.0 License).

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  1. Just stumbled upon this latest post on you blog. You are a fantastic writer. Even though I haven’t started traveling yet, posts like these make me want drop everything, and get on an airplane tonight.

    I totally hear you about trying to come to terms with coming home. I spent 2 years in Northern Peru, and it was fantastic. I was incredibly sad to leave the people behind, the memories, and especially the food! 4 years later I returned to visit and it was just as glorious as ever. I’m on the eve of planning for a summer stint in Asia, and this post completely echoes the thoughts I am having right now.

  2. I should probably think more about retirement or the future in general. I would like to think that travel is a lifestyle and I don’t want to have a year of travel and then the rest of my life settled down… nor do I want to wait until the end of my life until I travel. I strive for some sort of happy medium I guess.

  3. I travel (part-time, unfortunately), and am always thinking about retiring too! I dream of retiring early and moving somewhere warmer, and cheaper. We save as much as we can now, so that we can get to retiring soon. Maybe one day we’ll take the plunge into full-time travel. We often get people thinking we’re crazy for saving a lot, but we live a lot too… just in moderation. I think the key is, like you said, to reduce your large expenses. People often forget about that! Great post!

    • Glad I’m not the only one! ;) Living a lot doesn’t have to mean spending a lot — I think that’s an important distinction. Instead of spending money on stuff, I just choose to spend my money on an early retirement. :D

  4. Funny of how my perception of risk has changed with a family to support. When I was younger, I didn’t worry about protecting assets or living like a nomad. Then you work to retire, get the kids self-supported and return to those days of freedom!

    • It’s crazy how things change over time. Five years ago, I wouldn’t have seen myself living the life that I do now. :)

  5. People fear running out of money in retirement, more than death. I sometime fear I will get lazy in retirement, which is two years away. Or after living a bit frugal for so long, not being able to spend.

    My plan is falling into place nicely. I should have more money in retirement than while I am working. I just need to make sure I am able to enjoy it. (I can’t just sit around and blog all day…)

    • I definitely think I’ll be one of those people who will continue to be frugal even when I don’t need to be anymore.

    • I agree that you have to plan…just don’t spend all the time planning. I used to work with people who had early onset dementia…so I said to my husband…Let’s not wait and see if that or something else happens to us, let’s go now. So we did. rented the house a few times, sometimes not, depending on how long we go for – and are busy living our life now. We figure by the time we can retire, we’ll hopefully have ticked off all the majors that would require great health and mobility…and if not then we’ll have a bonus. People say to us how do you do it? We just travel smart and cheap, and don’t acquire ‘things’ when at home or away. Can’t take it with you. get out there and have fun!

      • That’s a great point, Rae. I guess it’s all about balance. And the tricky thing is that point of balance is different for everyone. :)

  6. My big risk would be living a budgeted and unfulfilling life in retirement because I didn’t plan enough. However, I can mitigate this risk by being smarter now. I’m willing to do what I need to in order to achieve my bigger goals. No risk, no reward, right? Excellent post Deia!

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