Never Say Never

Never is such a polarizing word.

Why do we say we'll never do something?

“I'll never wear short socks.”
“I'll never wear looser fitting clothing.”
“I'll never eat eggplant.”

I've said each of those things in the past. The funny thing is, I've done each of those things and actually enjoy them more than the alternatives. Ok, maybe not about the eggplant but at least I tried it.

Never is such a divisive word.

What most people mean to say when they say never is “I don't like ____/I find ____ offensive”. When I said I'll never wear short socks, what I meant was I don't currently like short socks and I don't see the point of them. Time and experience has a funny way of changing people's outlooks and opinions. In the case of the Great Sock Debate, I discovered I didn't like how calf-high socks kept losing their elasticity so quickly and never stayed up. Having to pull them up all the time and dealing with saggy socks made me irritated. I tried short socks and found out all of those problems disappeared. Sure, occasionally my shoe rubbed my ankle, but I fixed that by finding a different brand that came up a bit higher.

Never is a very close minded way of looking at things.

You're saying, I know everything there is to know about the subject, I am SO RIGHT I will always know best, nothing you can say to me will change my mind and anyone who thinks different is WRONG.

I've found that people who use the word never are correct. Their use of never becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

“I'll never be able to afford college/a house/have kids.”
“I'll never pay off this debt.”
“I'll never be able to retire.”

A better way to think about things is to only say never for things you don't want to happen, and phrase your nevers in a different way.

“I never want to be on food stamps again.”
“I never want to have consumer debt again.”
“Housing in my area is really expensive. I need to cut expenses/save rigorously/move cities if I want to buy a house.”
“I have $40k in student loans. If I get a second job, I can pay them off in 30 months!”
“Retirement is a long way away, but I'm going to start saving $100 a month and gradually increase that over the years.”

I've long been a fan of the book The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. I first heard about it early in college from a friend of mine in my Guard unit. At first….. I totally thought he was full of crap. But I promised him I would read it, so I did and found my view shifting. I'm not saying it's why I've been so successful at all the things I've tried for in life, but it's full of good exercises to do to change the way you think about things in life. I was reminded of it recently when I found the video below on Facebook. I recommend watching it! The clip from Jim Carrey is especially good.

In my (probably too long) search for the exact video I watched on FB, I ran across one with LMFAO where they described how they made such a splash in the music industry with Shots. Apparently, they're also big fans of The Secret. It sounds ridiculous, but it's a way of thinking I've integrated into my life now.


I've been working towards financial independence for going on 4 years now. There are still people who tell me I'll never be able to retire early, and to them… they're right. But only because they say it's never going to happen.

Yes, some people will genuinely struggle to retire early due to a low income. Make some sacrifices, take some risks, and they could work their way up the income ladder too. Yes it might require a lot of hard work (going to school after work, not having much of a social life for a while, moving across the country for a better job) but the beauty of this time is anyone can change their fortune. Now that kind of thing takes a lot of courage. I am not sure I have that kind of courage. I don't necessarily need that kind of courage right now, since I am comfortable in my job, location, and life in general.

That being said, I am A LOT closer to financial independence than I was 3 or 4 years ago due to all the hard work I've put into it. If you told 18-year-old me I'd be doing so well at age 26, I would've laughed in your face. To me at that point in my life, it was never going to happen. (Then again the thought of me eating AND liking asparagus was also a completely foreign idea soooo….)

But I opened my mind, changed the way I think, focused on what I wanted, and worked hard to direct my life into something I wanted. Now I am financially secure, and well on my way to being financially independent. So just like Henry Ford said way back when, “Whether you think you can or you can't, you're right”. Preach it, Henry!

What do you want from the world? Have you noticed anything different about your life after changing your thinking? Do you say you'll never be able to do something? Sound off in the comments!


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23 thoughts on “Never Say Never

    • But, all activities that save you money, are better for the environment, and are healthier for you! Internet high five for being open to change!

    • I feel like someone needs to make a hype video for FI. “Can you…… RISE TO THE CHALLENGE OF RETIRING EARLY!?!?” **trumpets go crazy**

    • It’s surprisingly difficult to do if you analyze all your thoughts. Definitely something to practice!

  1. This is actually very relevant to my situation. I was generally told when I was younger by people in my family that I “wouldn’t amount to anything”. I personally used that as my drive and I think it is what caused, or helped nudge, much of my outlook on life. Many of these people are very pessimistic by nature and I’m more of an optimist.

    • Reverse motivation! I love it! I have a friend who was told the same thing….. but she believed them and is surprise! not doing much with her life.

  2. Never is such a dirty little word! I am removing it from my vocab, unless of course it is something that should never happen in the first place. Great post Gwen! I hope you feel better soon!

    • I think I’m over the worst of it now, thank goodness. Glad I could have an impact on your vocab!

  3. Having a goal is very motivating and that’s kind of what Jim Carrey talked about in the clip. He used visualization but any technique works, even just writing it down and making a plan.

    My wife and I paid off our mortgage in just five years because we made that our goal (initial goal was actually 7 years). We broke our goal down into 4 month chunks. We made all sorts of lifestyle changes because of this goal. We were motivated by this specific, insane goal. More so than if we just set a goal to “save more”.

    Owen @ PlanEasy recently posted…Budgeting Tips: Are You Suffering From Budget Fatigue?My Profile

    • Yeah! Do things like the SMART goals! Too bad we can’t just achieve things by sitting around haha

  4. I am forgiving of “never” because it is loaded with hyperbole. People *never* really mean it ;).
    I worry more about the thinking behind it. It isn’t the never, it’s the defeatist attitude. “Fine, there is a very slim chance I could win the lottery. Does that make you happier?” No. It doesn’t because the problem isn’t the never, it’s the fact that you are focused on that rather than what you CAN do, and the positive changes you can make.
    Since we’re on the subject, the phrase that bothers me is “[X] RUINED MY LIFE!” Really? Your life is over? There is no redemption for your life from here? You have no control over making it better? Bad things happen in life, but this is defeatist, negative, and abdicating responsibility all rolled into one! Life isn’t always what you want it to be, but I have met too many people who used a debilitating loss as a starting point for great things: Divorces that lead to self examination and discovery, job losses that launch businesses, foreclosures that lead to getting your financial life together, death of a child that leads to saving hundreds of other children. These things are objectively BAD THINGS that happen to a person, but they only “ruin your life” if you let them.

    • I love everything about this rant. Just like the graphic that occasionally pops up on Facebook: “Did you have a bad day? Or did you have a bad 5 minutes that you’ve been milking all day?”

      • I’m surprised I’ve never come across that line in my travels, Gwen. Couple of thoughts on this subject, which is near and dear to my heart. I always felt that playing sports taught the mindset to overcome minor missteps. You miss a shot, you keep shooting…swing and a miss, welp you get 3 strikes for a reason…it’s not supposed to be easy.

        I have lived most of my life with my mother being severely depressed and knowing that her DNA is part of me. I could have given in and decided that I had no power to change it, but I chose not to accept that fate. So my theory is to try and not let a bad moment turn into a bad day, to not let a bad day turn into a bad week/month/year, etc…all about creating positive momentum by first preventing negative momentum. Much the same way that if I can’t hit a shot playing basketball, I’ll go bust my a$$ on D, if I have a tough day at work I’m probably going out for a hike and to catch a sunset.

        Never let a bad day make you feel like you have a bad life.

  5. Great post. One thing that I’ve been thinking about quite a bit lately is the right balance of “The Secret” philosophy and Stoicism. For example: The Secret encourages positive visualization as you talked about, which can be very effective in bringing those positive thoughts into reality. On the other hand, Stoicism encourages negative visualization – thinking of things you don’t want to happen – in order to appreciate and want what you already have and helping you to better live in the moment. The two practices seem to contradict each other, but both can be so powerful if done correctly.

    • Interesting! I don’t think I realized that was the foundation for Stoicism. Totally makes sense though!

  6. I’m not going to ask you about your backdoor [Roth], though never say never.

    Anyway (hahahah just joking), recently, I’ve been asking myself, “Why not?” instead of “Why?” If you have a goal, take action, right?

    Thanks for the article, I really enjoyed it.

    • “Why not?” <--- I love it! So many times we just let ourselves get beaten down by what we think we'll happen that we don't even try whatever it is. Shocking things result! (sometimes good, sometimes bad!)..........and thanks for not inquiring about my backdoor [Roth]. Kinda rude to bring up to a total stranger! hahhahaa

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