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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