One sunny Saturday afternoon I decided to go for a walk in the woods with Oliver my six year old son. He is very adventurous and loves to just run and explore pretending he is a warrior of sorts. I’m never quite sure what he is mumbling or screaming, but from the way he swings sticks around and the sounds he is making I am pretty sure he is in the midst of conquering the world.
Being a Dad is the greatest joy of my life. I love watching my kids discover and learn and remind me how to play. This particular afternoon we came across a very large tree that had blown over in a wind storm the year prior. The tree was strewn across the forest floor and stretched out about 20 feet over a large ravine. We jumped up on the log and started to walk toward the ravine.
As I walked out on the log I became increasingly aware of how very high we were, and how a fall from this height would likely result in a broken leg or something. So I turned around and said come on let’s go back. Oliver being Mr. Tough guy said, “Oh come on Dad. Are you scared?” Now I don’t know about you, but I’m not one to admit fear to my little guy. I just said, “Oliver, we are turning around because if you fall from here, you will get hurt and your Mom will kill me.”
He then asked, “How will she kill you?”
“With her bare hands,” I replied, “Now get going.”
Once we were back to safety by the base of the tree he asked if we go out again just a little further. So I said, “Okay, one more time.” This time I let him take the lead, but I kept one hand on his shoulder so I could grab him if he started to fall. We made it out a little further than we had the time before, and I started getting the uneasy feeling in the gut of my stomach that says, “this isn’t safe I need to get out of here.”
So I told him once again, “Come on were going back.” Of course there was the, “Ahhhh Dad,” but we turned and started walking. I made him hold my hand. Just when we were almost to safety he shook his hand free of mine. He wanted his independence and so I let go. I turned and was watching him as he confidently strut down the remainder of the log when all of a sudden he lost his balance.
Everything happened so fast that I didn’t have time to reach out for him. But as I think back to that moment in my mind, it was in slow motion. Instead of just falling off the log, he made a little hop expecting to hit the ground. Little did he realize he was still several feet off the ground. He made a semi-safe landing. Legs tangled in the twisted broken branches, and he lost his shoes trying to climb out.
I grabbed him and pulled him to safety. Other than a few scratches on his arm he was safe and uninjured. Needless to say we won’t be making that little trek any time soon.
I meet with people all of the time who have a bad gut feeling about something they are doing in their financial lives. They know the ever so familiar sensation in their gut that is screaming at them to make a change and to head for safety, but they are afraid to death of making an irreversible financial mistake.
One of the biggest challenges many people have in retirement is overcoming the hurdle of change. If your gut is saying to make a change, then don’t let fear or greed stop you from doing the right thing. Because frankly, if your Mother finds out, she will kill you with her bare hands. :)