Adapting to change for life and for FIRE (financial independence retire early)

 

Chameleon adapting to its environment!

Albert Einstein:  “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.”

My wife and I are recent early retirees at ages 51 and 48.  We’ve been slow traveling with our traveling companion Toby, a 13 pound Pomeranian dog since our early retirement in August 2020.  We’ve spent a month or longer at various destinations on the eastern parts of the United States.

In this post, I’d like to share my thoughts on importance of adapting to change for life and for FIRE (financial independence retire early).

What is adapting?

Online dictionary defines it as ‘make something suitable for a new use or purpose; modify.’

I define it this way...Life is constantly changing.  What was, will never stay that way for long.  Things we do to hold on to the status quo will eventually make us unhappy when they don’t stay the same.  When we can’t deal with that change, then life becomes difficult...

When we work at a job and we’re let go (terminated), most of us are unable to deal with it.  When a loved one dies, most of us are unable to deal with the grief.  When something bad happens, most of us will blame others and despair.  

All of these things happen every single day to someone, somewhere in the world.  Instead of denying things will happen, accept that things will happen.  Good things will happen, but so will bad things.  Some bad things are just out of our control...

I’ve been fired from a job when I sold cars in Pennsylvania, for lack of sales in January.  I took few minutes to process this change (realizing I was unemployed!) on my way home that day, then I set out a plan to see if I can use my contacts to land a job.  I didn’t want to stay in the car business permanently after that termination, and I was hoping to land an IT related job.

Although I wasn’t able to find a job through networking, it did start a chain reaction where I would seriously look to update my IT certification so I can land an IT job in Pennsylvania.  

Long story short, I updated my certification on Windows XP operating system at that time (2007).  This move in turn, would prove critical in landing my final job that would allow me to retire early.  When I got my job, my supervisor mentioned had I not updated my certification to current operating system, I would not have landed the job...

The moral of this story is to adapt to change.  I could’ve just sulked all day and blamed everyone and everything.  Instead of doing that, I took the initiative to do something to better deal with the cards I’ve been dealt.

For me, life was a constant change which I needed to adapt.  I needed to learn a new language coming over to the US.  I had to learn a whole new culture.  I had to adapt to selling cars for a living, then I adapted to learning computers when that didn’t work out.  Like I said, constant change followed by constant adapting, is the name of the game we call life...

Even right now, my wife and I are adapting to our new reality.  When we lived in the townhouse, bathrooms were decent sizes.  After we sold it, we realized how big those bathrooms were compared to our families’ bathrooms, in New York City.

This realization has already repeated itself many times when we went to Ocean City, Atlantic Beach, and Claysburg.  Ocean City’s bathroom was really tiny.  There was barely enough space to take a shower.  We had to make small movements when taking a shower, otherwise, we would keep bumping our elbows and limbs against the shower stall...

We adjusted and adapted.  We realized this was the current situation that we just needed to deal with.  We did the same thing in Atlantic Beach.  We are constantly adapting to new environments as we’re staying at one AirBNB to the next and also one destination to the next...

Change is a given.  Once you accept it and deal with it, you’ll have an easier time going through life...

All of us from when we were toddlers constantly have to adapt.  We have to adapt to walking, talking, asking for things from parents, dealing with annoying siblings and so on.  This process continues throughout our lives.

We meet new friends, deal with school, grades, the opposite sex, etc.  Once we become adults, life changes even more.  You now have to deal with your boss, co-workers, money, parents’ expectations, and on and on and on...I would argue being an adult brings on more changes...

These days changes to technology is changing our lives, for better or for worse, even faster than say 20 years ago.  The internet and the ability to work remote has, and will, profoundly change how people work.  *It’s already happening thanks to the pandemic...

What I’m saying is, without having the ability to change with the times, you will most likely be left behind.  Think about 20 years ago when typists were a thing.  Someone actually took home a paycheck as a typist.  This job is no longer around thanks to word processing programs like Microsoft Word.

Think about all the changes in how we listen to music, from 8 track, LP, cassette, CD, laser disk, USB, to streaming services we now enjoy.  Think about all the people who were employed manufacturing these things at one time or another, who are now unemployed in that industry.  This change in music medium happened within my lifetime!  If that’s not an upheaval, I don’t know what is...

When dealing with your goal to achieve financial independence, change is also a constant thing.  You’ll need to deal with ever changing income from year to year, how much you’re spending, how much you’re putting away towards retirement, how to come together on what it means to retire early, and to how to deal with different investments.

Some investments may do very well, while others may lose money.  I’ve lost 70% of a mutual fund’s value in the year 2000 when I purchased a technology fund.  This was right before the ‘dot-com bust’ happened.  

Everybody loses money sometimes while investing.  Learn to be calm and adapt!  Adapt to how investments perform and make the necessary changes to tweak them as needed.  There’s nothing wrong with tinkering with your ‘losers’ in your portfolio.  No one said you will pick winners every time!

I know I’ve had some investments that did great, while handful either lost value, or didn’t go up as high as much as I had hoped.  I changed with that reality by stop buying the losers to put away more towards winners. 

The ability and willingness to adapt to change will either mean you’ll have a well paying job or not.  If something doesn’t work out, you’ll need to change to get to where you need to go.  Job is obviously one of the most important facets of our lives but this concept applies to everyday life.

Look at it this way.  As long as you have people you know, growing old/being sick/dying is part of nature. It’s better to face that truth and learn to take all things in stride, as this impacts everyone.  No one goes through life and not deal with bad things.  

Like Einstein’s quote, the ability to adapt is the ultimate measure of intelligence.  This quote is even more apt today than ever.  Our world is changing rapidly thanks to technology.  Who knows what new jobs it’ll create while eliminating others...Who knows how all this rapid advancement will impact people in the near future?

The only constant is that change is constant.  Accept change as part of life.  Everything in universe dies, even stars.  Even galaxies will eventually die out...

Understand this simple fact, and you’ll realize how futile it is to hold on to whatever it is you hold as sacrosanct.  It is law of nature that change is constant and it is also the law of the universe.  Whatever had a beginning must also end.

Learn to adapt to change sooner rather than later.  Have your moment of reflection or mourning when bad things happen, but move on as quickly as you can.  It can be practiced as it is a mindset.  

Of course it’s sad when our loved ones die.  Of course it’s debilitating when we’re terminated from our jobs.  All of these changes are just part of living.  No one said it was going to be easy, but learn to accept all these changes as part of nature/universe, and things will look up.

In the end, I would rather have lived this fragile thing we call life, than not lived in the first place...

Thank you all for reading!


Jake 

Wandering Money Pig 


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