I’ve recently graduated college and have about 2 months off before I start my first full-time job. I’ve tried to fill this space with as much travel and fun as I can but the reality is, even if you are traveling full time, there will be days that are not action-packed and will be slow days. It is much like the theory of hedonic adaptation. If you are doing something exciting all the time, the excitement will eventually wear off. Because of this, I have had many slow days and I can honestly say I am excited to start working full-time just because I am getting bored at some points.
This leads me to my unpopular opinion: retiring sucks. That is, the type of retirement that most people think of. The type of retiring where you cease all kinds of work for a life of leisure and sleeping in. This is something that I feel many people in the FI community get wrong on their journey to financial independence. They think that if they could just quit their job then everything would be great. This is understandable when you have a mind-numbing desk job, but this shouldn’t be the goal. There are many stats of how most people will die within a few years of retirement and researchers have related it to a lack of purpose.
If you are just lounging around all day you will very quickly get bored and most likely depressed. That is why, I think (again, just my opinion) the goal should be to find a job that you love to do, instead of just retiring. Research has shown that making money will bring you happiness only if that money is bringing you above the poverty line. Extra money beyond that will not make you any happier in the long term.
I think that people should focus more on finding work that is in harmony with what they like to do and brings value to other people. You might find that a job like this can bring in money and even substantial money in some cases.
The research shows that people are happiest when they are doing work that is meaningful to them, provides challenges, and brings value to other people. This type of work does not need to come in the form of a desk job, however, it certainly can. This is not to say that you shouldn’t focus on achieving a high savings rate on your way to financial independence. It just means that you need to remember why you are striving towards financial independence in the first place. You are going for financial independence so that you can design your life exactly the way you want to live it.
This means that if you are on your path to FI and your dream job becomes available to you but the pay is less, you should put some serious thought into why you need financial independence money in the first place. If you want to be financially independent so that you can live life how you want it, and taking that job before you are financially independent will let you live life how you want to, then it seems like a no brainer.
Whenever I think about this topic I remember the story of the fisherman and the businessman:
“There was once a businessman who was sitting by the beach in a small Brazilian village.
As he sat, he saw a Brazilian fisherman rowing a small boat towards the shore having caught quite few big fish.
The businessman was impressed and asked the fisherman, “How long does it take you to catch so many fish?”
The fisherman replied, “Oh, just a short while.”
“Then why don’t you stay longer at sea and catch even more?” The businessman was astonished.
“This is enough to feed my whole family,” the fisherman said.
The businessman then asked, “So, what do you do for the rest of the day?”
The fisherman replied, “Well, I usually wake up early in the morning, go out to sea and catch a few fish, then go back and play with my kids. In the afternoon, I take a nap with my wife, and evening comes, I join my buddies in the village for a drink — we play guitar, sing and dance throughout the night.”
The businessman offered a suggestion to the fisherman.
“I am a PhD in business management. I could help you to become a more successful person. From now on, you should spend more time at sea and try to catch as many fish as possible. When you have saved enough money, you could buy a bigger boat and catch even more fish. Soon you will be able to afford to buy more boats, set up your own company, your own production plant for canned food and distribution network. By then, you will have moved out of this village and to Sao Paulo, where you can set up HQ to manage your other branches.”
The fisherman continues, “And after that?”
The businessman laughs heartily, “After that, you can live like a king in your own house, and when the time is right, you can go public and float your shares in the Stock Exchange, and you will be rich.”
The fisherman asks, “And after that?”
The businessman says, “After that, you can finally retire, you can move to a house by the fishing village, wake up early in the morning, catch a few fish, then return home to play with kids, have a nice afternoon nap with your wife, and when evening comes, you can join your buddies for a drink, play the guitar, sing and dance throughout the night!”
The fisherman was puzzled, “Isn’t that what I am doing now?””
It is a simple reminder of keeping your goal in mind.
My Ideal World
I think that my ideal career path would be to work an engineering job with a decent salary for a few years while saving as much money as possible and dumping it into stocks and real estate. After I have built a small amount of wealth and I have some financial runway I want to take a little more risk in finding a job that I love. This could mean an engineering job that is challenging and fulfilling, it could mean going full-time into real estate investing, or it could mean anything else.
“If you want to see God laugh, tell him your plans” -Woody Allen
I hope to never lose sight of the goal and to always be designing my ideal life.
The Money-Life Manifesto
Going Back to Work After Early Retirement