Doing the “Impossible”

I think we as a society tend to limit the potential of people by using the word “impossible.” Whenever I talk about retiring VERY early people tend to just smile and nod and you can almost see the thought behind their eyes of “this guy is trying to do the impossible, he is crazy.” Yet to me it is not even remotely impossible, in fact I think my dream to retire at 45 is likely to happen depending on a few variables.

So what is impossible? Well just about nothing is truly impossible. There are a huge number of things that are unlikely or statistically remote, but can still happen. Even if your odds are a 1 in a billion, it is still possible. Unlikely, yes, but still possible.

Perhaps this is why I tend to do things with little regard for what’s impossible. I reach almost daily for my dreams and more often than not I do reach them. For example, I mentioned to my boss the other day I wanted to take some time off when our baby is born. He almost choked when I mentioned a 4 to 8 week leave, but then he thought about it and said “We should be able to work around that to give you the time off.” I had just happened to hit the perfect time where the future workload wasn’t set that far down the road yet.

Then I stumbled upon two other things to help my dream. First our Christmas shopping is currently way under budget and we are two thirds done. If this continues I should be able to make up my $50/month short fall to finish off my saving fund to take off 8 weeks after the baby is born. Then a left hook took out my plan when I realized I would still have my deductions from work for my medical plan and other benefits. So then I found my second item that helped my dream. I realized I was literally staring money in the face. I currently run my chequing account one month in advance so November’s pay is used in December. By dropping that cushion slightly and taking out my mortgage payments out when I get paid, rather than the month after, I can move an extra $1000 to my savings.

So now I’m well on my way to taking an extra two month leave next year in addition to my regular holidays. If I add up our recently reduced work week and my leave I’m going to actually work 400 less hours next year in total. Not too bad for a dream, eh?

In the end I challenge everyone to forget what’s impossible and embrace being ‘crazy’ to others. You will likely be happier from reaching your dreams more often and more wealthy since you won’t have the slightest interest in keeping up with the Joneses. After all when you are living your dreams, who cares what you drive?

This post is now part of the 128th Carnival of Personal Finance.

8 thoughts on “Doing the “Impossible””

  1. “After all when you are living your dreams, who cares what you drive?”

    I think looking at life as a quest to fulfill a dream can be somewhat limitting and misleading. A lot of people create a dream as a solution to their current problems, and see the their dream life as being unrealistically free of problems. Unfortuantely, its not usually that simple. In your case for example, how do you know that early retirement will make you happy? What if the novel you have been dreaming about writing all your life turns out to be terrible? What if its great but no one will publish it?

    I think plans and goals are important, but I think its also important not look at the future as some sort of escape from the present. I don’t have any idea where I will be in 20 years or what my life will be like, but I know that every day I try to make my life better, be a good person, and most importantly enjoy being alive.

  2. It was excellent analogy in “Total Money Makeover” by Dave Ramsey (http://www.amazon.com/Total-Money-Makeover-Financial-Fitness/dp/0785289089/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1195574835&sr=8-1).

    He is talking about science experiment with monkeys: they put monkeys in some deep place which they cannot climb from and the only way to get out was to climb the pole. As any monkey tried to do that, guy with water hose washed the monkey down. After a while they get an idea it’s pretty stupid to try to get out: you cannot do that and get cold shower instead. So as any other monkey tries to climb up, other monkeys pull it down.

    Now interesting part: they take one monkey out and put new one in (this one doesn’t know about cold shower). It tries to climb up, but other monkeys pull it down. Now, one by one they replaced all the monkeys. All those monkeys have no idea about what prevents them to climb up, but as soon as one try to do that, other stop it.

    Now, back to people world: somebody says you that debt cannot be paid down or you cannot retire at 45 – he is a monkey who know nothing about cold shower, but won’t give you to climb up! Don’t listen to him!

  3. CT,

    I think you’re slightly off in idea of early retirement. I think CanadianDream’s and most early retiring hopefuls are not so much about leaving the workplace to sip margaritas on the mexican riviera all year. The idea of early retirement is all about freedom to live the life that you want rather than being forced to work for a pay cheque to pay bills.

    Everyone who is setting these goals may be optimistic but I also believe they are realistic. They have realistic goals set forth to achieve success. No one is under the impression that life will be without stress or setbacks.

    The most important word to realize is “Freedom” not retirement.

  4. Your like the guy who had the nerve to say the world was round when everyone else believed the world was flat.

    Don’t let your idea opponents stop your search for a better way…rather – use their comments to help you ask the right questions and where necessary…change you plan to make it stronger.

    Oh…taking time off for your children is a little bit like “extreme early retirement”. Maybe, in a way your already there, at least temporarily.

    No one ever knows for sure how happy they will be in retirement. Some men go crazy, then go back to work, others end up working at min wage jobs just for something to do. Knowing who you are is a big part of the decison.

    You obviously like learning, thinking and writing. You could easily spend a second entire lifetime on a writing career. Like that dividend stock guy…Derek what’s his name? It could easily become a source of income.

  5. CT,

    I completely agree with you. You shouldn’t retire to escape things. As to me knowing early retirement will make me happy? Well that’s a easy one, as CM mentioned I’m going to do a little test drive of it next year for about 8 weeks. So I’ll keep you all posted if I start going insane and want to go back to work. I got the feeling I won’t want to go back.

    MM,

    Thanks. You covered my vision of retirement well! Freedom is the key word.

    CM,

    You hit it on the head. I love learning, thinking and writing. I visit my library at least once a week to get new material, so I don’t think I’ll be getting bored with my extra two decades in retirement.

    Tim

  6. Hi CD,

    This is the first time I am posting but I have been reading your blog everyday for probably the last 4-5 months. Just wanted to give you some first-hand info from EI. I believe the weekly payment increased to $423 this year and you can ask to reduce the amount of tax holdback to as little as $18/week (for a weekly payment of $405). So depending on your yearly salary, and how much tax has been withhled by your company (I assume that they are taking off tax based on a full year of salary), this may help you make up your $50/month shortfall

  7. Farouk,

    THANKS! That will help out a little bit. I forgot that the limit was going up next year!

    Tim

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