By Beth Baer
Those of you who have known me for awhile know this is an expression I use frequently. Often it’s in the context of encouraging (some say pushing) someone to leave the safety of their known universe and courageously move into new possibilities in their lives. Is there usually risk? Maybe, but the risk is manageable by simply being aware of your surroundings and being ready to zig and zag around the perceived threats.
I often encourage especially retired friends and clients to not only consider but actually execute international travel. And, more than once, I’ve heard the response that it’s dangerous to travel outside the country. I wonder how many of those who died in Oklahoma City or New York or at the Pentagon would rather have been anywhere, including someplace exotic, than where they were on those fateful days.
I have made it a personal policy to not let my fear of those who hate and act on that hatred to keep me from traveling anywhere I choose. After all, I could have been in the Twin Towers or the Murrah Building, naively feeling safe from terrorists (both foreign and domestic). Not only would I have been wrong about feeling safe, I would have missed the amazing sights and experiences my frequent foreign travels have provided me since then.
Sometimes, the ‘step off the curb’ encouragement applies to something else. It’s not unusual for us to meet with clients who are afraid to retire, even when we demonstrate that financially they are well prepared to stop working. What they really fear is leaving a safe place, a decades old routine, a familiar life, and stepping into the unknown. In their minds, they ARE what they DO, and when they stop DOING, they might not know who they are or what their mission is.
Our experience with clients and friends who do ‘step off the curb’ into retirement is that, in fact, a whole new world opens for them. They rediscover what made them happy before there were careers to manage and families to raise. They remember how much fun it is to make new friends outside the workplace, to play games long since abandoned, to volunteer, to learn new skills, to travel. They remember how nice it is to not wake to the sound of an alarm clock; to not have to attend countless mindless meetings; to plan something and know it will not be interrupted or cancelled because of the demands of work; to have a bit of idle time to just think; to get to know their neighbors or the couple who frequently sit next to them in church; to move their fitness routines from 6 am to 3 pm.
We can help you decide if you’re financially prepared for retirement. But only you can decide if you’re ready to ‘step off the curb’. Don’t let fear of the unknown or other perceived threats get in your way. There are so many wonderful gifts on the other side of the curb. After the decades you’ve devoted to working, it’s up to you to decide if it’s time to be on the receiving end of those gifts. Find the curb and take the step.