As you may have read, I recently returned home from the Adventures to FI Retreat in Whitefish, Montana, where nearly 50 FI-seekers from around the US and Canada got together for a weekend of thoughtful interaction and deep thinking. While I have never been good at taking notes in school or in meetings at work, I knew that this weekend was going to be an important turning point in my life, and I wanted to have some hand-written notes of things that caught my attention. I even left my laptop at home in Florida so I would have to write things into my notebook.
There were several things that were mentioned by the panelists (Mr. Money Mustache, Ed from ChooseFI Foundation and Kerry Ann from The Best Chapter) that caused me to nod in agreement, tear up, or laugh aloud. I won’t cover all of them here, but I wanted to write about a few of them and how I’ve tried to put them into action in the few weeks since I’ve been home.
The first came from Kerry Ann, and she encouraged all of us to “Fall back in love with being a beginner.” She admits that being a beginner isn’t easy. It can be really hard to try new things! But when you’re brand new to something, there’s no expectation that you’ll be perfect at it. There’s no expectation that you won’t make mistake after mistake, but you will learn and grow through those mistakes. Plus there’s the excitement of trying new things, making progress and building new skill sets.
Along those lines, another lesson from Jillian was the concept of “dipping your toe in” versus “the cannonball” method. We can all be dainty little flowers and creep ever so slowly into a new task, or we can jump in with reckless abandon and fully immerse ourselves in that endeavor. I chose the cannonball method earlier today at my Toastmasters meeting at work. I’ve been doing the “dip my toe in” method for about 4 months now, and have had moderate success only participating during the “table topics” portion where I get a random prompt and have to stand and speak for 1-2 minutes without any preparation. But today, our Toastmaster (leader of the meeting) volunteered me to give an impromptu speech. I had the option to decline, but I decided to embrace the proverbial cannonball and jump right in for a minimum 4 minute speech. After some nervousness and a shaky start, I had to quickly wrap up the ending of my speech because I had reached 5 minutes and 43 seconds, where 6 minutes was the maximum deadline (technically 6:30, but the red card goes up to say “STOP” at 6 minutes). And I got lots of good feedback, telling me I did a good job, to slow down when I talk, and they want to hear more. I even got multiple suggestions to give a prepared speech soon on the topic of Travel Hacking – one of my favorite topics. I guess they could see me light up with excitement as I introduced the basics!
And the third lesson I want to touch on today is a much broader one: “I want to make a dent in the Universe,” again from Kerry Ann. I often feel like what I do is not important – personally or professionally. Sure, I know that by regulating development in floodplains, I am protecting some future occupant from drowning or sustaining massive flood damage from some future flooding event that could be decades and decades away from now. And personally, I just share some of my investing mistakes or random thoughts around the concepts of money. But I am more than that. I’m a friend, a homeowner, a philanthropist, a safe ride home, a free hug anytime you need one, a fan, and an investor. How can I share my unique gifts and talents to make this world a better place, even for just one person? That’s what I want to continue to explore as I plot out my next steps on the road to FI.