Would you like to be financially free from a job you hate? If so, you are not alone. Only a small minority of workers are engaged at work.
What are your options? You could suck it up.
Grind away for 30+ years. Get your enjoyment on weekends, evenings, and after you retire. That worked for a whole generation.
Don’t Waste Your Life at a Job You Hate
But do you want to suffer almost all your waking hours? Your evenings and weekends end up being recovery and preparation time. Work still dominates your life for decades.
And what if you never make it to retirement? Or you may be too old or sick to enjoy it by then.
Should you Follow Your Bliss?
What about finding work you love? It sounds great, but few have actually achieved this. Working for a company and having a boss has downsides. Working for yourself gives more autonomy. But it comes with financial risks, headaches, and long hours.
Should you FIRE?
The desire to be financially free from a job has accelerated the “FIRE” movement. FI stands for Financial Independence. RE means Retire Early.
I used to dream about FIRE. And that was before FIRE was “a thing.” There were 1-2 obscure books about people who reached FIRE in their thirties. That was about it.
No mainstream books or magazine articles. Blogs didn’t even exist yet when I started planning for my own path to FIRE. There was certainly no Physician on Fire to show me the way.
I Once Wanted to FIRE
I consulted one of those few people who had done it (Gillette Edmunds) for some financial advice in 2001. My question was, “Did I have enough to retire immediately?”
Unfortunately, he felt I had not stacked up enough Benjamins at that point. He made it clear that I would have to work for at least another decade or two. I was discouraged.
Without the option of early retirement, I kept working full-time. It wasn’t all bad. I was learning, growing, and earning. The work was meaningful and I jumped into it with both feet.
Get Rich Slowly
A few years ago I came to a startling realization. The investment income exceeds our expenses. Actually, I make more from investment income than from working.
If I stopped working, we could live for the next 25 years or more. Hey, doesn’t that mean we reached FI?
Financially Free From a Job
Yes. I achieved the FIRE state that I had shoved under a rug long ago.
Okay, so now what? I was FI. I could RE. But did I want to? The shocking answer was NO.
I kept working full-time at my regular job. Why? Wouldn’t most people dream of telling their boss to shove it and walk out?
Why didn’t I? Was I afraid? Was I a workaholic? Did I have no life or hobbies that could occupy my time? Was I trying to play it safe?
I realized that -without the financial stress and strain of having to make a living- I loved my work.
I Didn’t Hate My Job
There is a lot to like about it.
- The staff treat me with respect
- I meet new people daily
- My income is high (top 5% in the U.S.)
- It is safe and not physically taxing
- Awesome co-workers
- Opportunities to use my brain and knowledge
- Daily challenges
- I’m finally getting good at what I do
- Helping people
- Receive appreciate, praise, and gratitude
I enjoy the work more now that I don’t need to work. I want to work. It feels different.
“To find joy in work is to discover the fountain of youth.“ -Pearl S. Buck
My Plan is FINER
People think FI and RE belong together. I disagree.
FI is what makes you free, not RE.
A brief time away from work or a change in career can be helpful. Stopping work can be disastrous for some. We should focus on FI, but not RE.
In fact, I argue for a FINER plan. Financial Independence, Never Ever Retire!
Financially Free from a Miserable Job
Step 1. Reach Financial Independence (FI).
Step 2. Figure out what part of the job you hate.
Step 3. Figure out what part of the job you love.
Step 4. Do more of what you love and less of what you hate.
Step 5. If you can’t control it, limit it. Go part-time. Don’t quit.
Life Without Work Isn’t Appealing (To Me)
Being financially free from a job doesn’t mean you have to stop working. Without work, I would feel a loss of structure, purpose, and sense of contribution.
I understand why some retirees become depressed and unhealthy.
What About Burnout?
Burnout is real. 20 years of grinding away as a doctor and 13 years of hard work before that can wear you down.
As can the constant wave of change the rushes over us weekly. Our bosses expect more from us each month.
The stress becomes palpable. Burnout creeps in. One study showed 54% of all physicians have signs or symptoms of burnout.
Or Even Worse
That is scary. I don’t want to be heading down that road. Especially when I know that 400 physicians per year take their own life. These are smart and successful people – like me.
My compromise was to downshift but not come to a full-stop retirement. The word retirement means different things to different people.
Some of the definitions follow generational lines of thinking. I tend to think of it in the older definition. Retirement brings to mind a complete withdrawal from paid, productive employment. That is not for me.
The Rewards of Serving Others
I suspect I will always earn some money. I enjoy serving the needs of others.
If you do that, you will get paid. That is how it works.
Give and you will receive. In the process, I gain value, other than the money. But the money is good too.
And it increases over time. I like the idea of having some inflation protection built into that income stream.
Part-Time Work is Great
For now, I work part-time (three days a week) and I’m loving it. Having time for my family and to work on my own health, happiness, and fitness is priceless. I’m more productive at work when I am there since I’m strategic with my time.
When I’m at work, I’m glad I’m there. I don’t get worn down as much as the week goes on (I do feel a difference at 50 compared to age 40 or 30).
Make Time For a Non-Work Life
I now have more time for investing and blogging. Those income streams are growing. This, in turn, will make me even less dependent on my employer.
Everyone should be aware of the option of becoming financially free from a job. We all should work towards Financial Independence.
At age 30 you may feel you will work full-time to age 70, so why bother? You may change. Or the work may change.
Your interests change and your body slows down. Who knows what the future holds?
Don’t close off options before they start. Become FI so you will have options and choices.
If you choose to Retire Early, then good for you. It isn’t for me, but people differ. Retirement may be the best choice for people who can no longer stand working for “The Man.”
Being financially free doesn’t have to mean you are jobless.
As for me, my plan is FINER.