A couple of days ago I found out I actually really like my current job. That shouldn’t be too weird now, would it? It is weird though, mainly because I’m one of the laziest people on the entire planet. I absolutely hate putting in any effort at all to reach a goal, unless it is of direct benefit to me. Hyperefficiency is the name of the game, so why in the world would I enjoy a demanding job with lots of unpaid overtime?
Many financial independence seekers state not having to work or being able to retire as one of the main reasons for building enough financial firepower. I am one of those people. My about page explicitly states that “I [want to] enjoy what I value most in life instead of having to offer up my valuable time for a regular monthly paycheck”. Just a month ago I confirmed that point of view in a post of mine on the monetary value of your own time.
You can imagine how confusing it was for me to discover that lately I’ve really enjoyed going to work early in the morning. On top of that, I also didn’t mind the long hours and unpaid overtime of the past few weeks too much. Genuine fun, challenging assignments and a bunch of growth opportunities in a pleasant working environment do that to a person, much to my surprise.
But what about financial independence? Don’t you want to quit your job as soon as possible?
Being able to quit a 9-to-5 job was definitely the main goal in the beginning. There’s no reason denying that. My goals aren’t as purposeful as the Frugalwoods, who moved to a rural homestead to enjoy the peace of the great outdoors, or as entrepreneurial as Jason from Dividend Mantra, who quit his job at a luxury car dealership to enjoy life and become a full-time writer – you can see how insipring Jason is to me since I constantly seem to link back to his blog.
However, over time and especially within these last couple of days I’ve come to realise that seeking financial independence is not just about a single, lofty goal. It’s about trying to maximize the, quite frankly, limited amount of time you have among family, friends and random strangers. It’s about focussing on what you like the most and prioritizing your time accordingly.
And those priorities may very well be a satisfying job, like in my case at the moment. But how likely is it that I’ll continue loving my job or work environment? Will I gleefully walk on roses to work in five years? Ten years? Thirty years? Will I enjoy having to work until 67?
I couldn’t tell. And neither can you.
Maybe the 50+ hours of going into the office, the daily commute or the workfloor politics will burn me out in a couple of years. Maybe not. In my book, that’s a textbook example of an uncertain situation in which you should take action to maximize the chance of a positive outcome. That’s where the freedom financial indepence provides us with comes in.
Let’s imagine you save and invest rigorously just like I’ve been doing the past few months. You turn 50 years old and have a big-ass piggy bank filled to the brim with high-quality index funds or a sizeable dividend growth stock portfolio. Pretty cool, right?
If you, on the one hand, continue to enjoy your full-time job at 50, good! That’s a positive outcome. If you, on the other hand, find yourself less and less motivated to drag yourself behind your work desk every day, good! That’s also a positive outcome because you can quit. Thank you, financial independence.
You have afforded yourself the freedom to quit your job and spend your valuable and limited time some other way.
Of course, there’s no sure-fire way to be able to spend your time how you like at any given moment in the future. That’s why I said you should take action to improve the chance of a positive outcome, not just the outcome. Nobody can prepare for what’s going to happen in a couple of years. The only thing you can do is sway Lady Fortune to tilt luck in your favour.
If you look back at the statement on my about page, you’ll find that I defined my ultimate goal with that perspective in mind, although without even realising it at the time. Maybe doing the best I can as a civil servant is my passion – it certainly is now – but honestly, I couldn’t tell. Nevertheless, what I do know is the fact that I want to be ready for anything life throws at me.
And that’s the ultimate beauty of seeking financial freedom. It offers us the possibility to deal with most of life’s choices in the most optimal way you can think of. Suboptimal decisions become a thing of the past when you don’t have to worry about finances or time management. Your savings provide you with all the time you need to do exactly what you want when you want. The choice is completely yours.
How do you feel about your full-time job? Is reaching financial independence simply about wanting to leave the office behind because you don’t like it or not?