When we told our friends about our decision to ‘retire early’, we had all sort of reactions. Envy, happiness, sadness, incredulity, stress, and so on. These reactions didn’t surprise us; in a way they were all expected.
It typically emerged a few days after breaking the news. Several friends (who had originally reacted in the ‘expected’ way) came back to us to tell us they had found our decision ‘inspiring’.
This felt very strange, almost alien. Maybe it’s because we normally associate the ability to inspire someone with fame, success and the like. I don’t know, Bono Vox of U2 can be inspiring; but us, very normal people?
Yet the feedback came from enough friends to make it ‘real’. Apparently, our decision kickstarted something in their minds. Knowing we were actually going, spurred them into action. Who knows, maybe we had been in their way all this time?🤔
People see, people do
There is something powerful about seeing other people do things. We weren’t just talking about going – we were actually doing it. Our decision was made, so there was no need to ‘discuss’ it. We weren’t asking for their opinions. As a result, I imagine many of our friends automatically bypassed the typical reactions (the objections, the questions, the scenario-analysis), and just focused on the esilarating feeling of freedom.
Each person has a different sense of freedom; but in general it is associated with ‘doing what you love’. So, our friends where inspired to do the things they always wanted to do. Someone decided to start writing that book they always had in mind. Others decided to pack their stuff and travel around the world.
All have thanked us for giving them the inspiration. But we are not special – we haven’t made them do these things. They had them within themselves already.
They just needed a catalyst. Something – or someone – to give themselves permission to do what they always wanted to.
Being a catalyst
And this – being a catalyst – is a great reason why you have to do bold things: to show other people that it’s possible, and maybe even easier than they think.
For the ones of us who have kids, this is even more important. We keep telling them it’s important in life to do what they want, to follow their passions, etc. But what’s our credibility if we say this while still working a full-time job we hate?