I get into the most interesting conversations here at my bed and breakfast. People come here at all different points of life's journey, savor the beauty and become philosophical. They often talk of change, of the desire to try something new- a new business, a new location, a new start. And a question we often get asked is,
"How did you know it was the right time?"
And the answer always surprises. There is no right time.
We can plan. Make analyses, lists. Come up with our concept. Run it by a few experts or mentors. Dream. We can save our money. We can cut our expenses.
All of those are very necessary parts of executing a lifestyle change.
But if you wait until your parents are in a retirement home, the dollar's value has increased, the property market has come back, your stocks are finally paying a dividend, you get that raise at the job you're not crazy about but are sticking with at least for now, and there is enough money in that bank account to cover every risk you can come up with on paper, guess what?
You're probably never going to do it. Because you can not effect a huge life change and be completely risk averse. The two are mutually exclusive.
This is not to say that planning and staying very realistic about your means are not important. They're critical. But you have to determine whether or not you are the type of person who can live with the risk associated with lifestyle change.
Are you the kind of person who can stop talking about massive downsizing and actually do it? Like maybe going car-free or car-lite. Or possibly living in a quarter of the space you do now. Forgetting about shopping as a pastime and viewing it as a necessary evil only. Getting rid of the majority of your possessions. Losing status in your social group. Because it takes a huge, serious commitment to effect massive lifestyle change.
Changing lifestyles and becoming independent means rethinking your wants and needs. Said more directly, it means taking about 90% of your needs and dumping them into the wants column. How much money you need will depend how well you did separating your needs from your wants.
You will be amazed, if you change your life to become more independent, how luxurious heat feels. Warm water. New socks. Good quality food. Appreciation becomes much more of a heightened sense. The every day becomes special.
Are you the kind of person who can live without a lot of security? Neighbors you know, a steady income, a familiar environment - just a few of the things you will need to be able to give up temporarily when making a complete lifestyle change. Can you depend completely on yourself to maintain your centered attitude? Will you be on Skype to your friends everyday complaining about how hard it is? Or will you be able to get on with it and accept all the consequences of your decisions?
What is your skill set? Does your plan involve buying a house and renovating it? Have you never held a power tool in your hand before? That means you will have to buy services, a lot of them. If your skill set lends itself to the task at hand, say, a writer wanting to become a free-lance magazine contributor or a book author, then you will need less money and have less expenses.
The bottom line: the more you can limit your needs, scale back your expenses and choose an initial business plan that utilizes your skill set, the more able you will be to effect massive personal change regardless if the timing is ideal or not.
And Nike was right all along. There comes a point where you just have to do it.