I’m not waiting until my FIRE date to do the work I love.
So often, the story of someone on the other side of FIRE-dom consists of a person in a well-paying but unfulfilling job working hard for around a decade until they reach FI, then they retire, and start to do passion projects part or full-time. Part of the glory one feels when they reach FI comes with the knowledge that they will never have to work for someone else ever again. They will never have to get a job just to pay the bills. Instead, they will do the type of work they want to do. I’m not waiting until I reach financial independence to do things that fill my cup. Instead, I will find a way to weave the things I’m currently interested in into my current life. Here’s what I’m thinking so far:
Pivot my Research
Before I joined the FI community, I was passionate about supporting the use of affinity groups in schools, especially for Black students. While I am still passionate about that work, I don’t know if I want to research it for some years. I think I want to research something that brings the concepts of FI to school-aged students. I want these tools in the hands of students who need it most. I’ve seen this content taught in suburban high school classrooms, and that’s great. But I know I didn’t have access to this content as a student in a predominantly Black low-income school system and community. I want to be the change I’d like to see, bringing tools for personal investment and finance to communities that need it most. I don’t have to wait until I reach early retirement to do this work.
It’s easy for me to get excited about, well, just about anything. If I had to wait 10 years to take on extra projects big and small, I would not be a happy camper. Although having the option of early retirement will allow me to have up to 100% of my waking hours dedicated to pursuing my passions, I can use 1%-5% of my time on these things now. I am a very busy person, but I don’t have to use that as an excuse to put off the work that challenges and fulfills me. Plus, by dabbling in different areas of interest now, I can get a feel for what types of projects have the potential to become prosperous side hustles or full-time entrepreneurial ventures once I reach FI.
Podcasts and Books
I am a very late bloomer when it comes to podcasts. I never understood the concept when they came out, why listen to someone talk about random stuff? So young, so naive. I started listening to podcasts in late 2020. I started with two podcasts from one of my favorite authors and social researchers, Brene Brown’s Unlocking Us and Dare to Lead. I was hooked, she has fantastic guests. I highly recommend them. It’s not until January 2021 that I found another podcast, Choose FI. Listening to this podcast makes my commute to and from work feel so productive. I used to listen to music, the same music I’ve been listening to for years. Now I get to learn something new and feel connected to the FI community.
I am also a late bloomer when it comes to audiobooks. This is strange for a person who loves books. I used to call books my best friend as a kid. My favorite place was the book store. Nothing compared to the high of getting a new book. Thinking about it, I am a book purist. This is my issue with audiobooks and ebooks. When ebooks and kindles first became a thing, I hoped they were a trend that would come and go. Nope, they are here to stay. Although I still prefer actual books, I do have a kindle (it was a gift!) and I use it daily.
I will not wait until I reach financial independence to explore interesting ideas and to educate myself. When I used to think of the word ‘retirement’, I would imagine myself sitting in a cozy chair reading a book by my fireplace. I don’t have to wait until retirement to live out that fantasy. I can read cozily now, and I will.
My Actual Job
Unlike many in the FIRE movement, I actually love my job. Even if I had never discovered FIRE, I would be content staying in my career until 65. I’ve worked diligently over the years to seek employment at a place I am proud to work at, surrounded by mentors and colleagues I admire. I work with smart people who work hard, and all of them work tirelessly and selflessly to serve young people in our community. We do work that matters. Of course that feels good. I don’t work my butt off for some soulless reason. The work that I do directly and indirectly helps people. Also, I make sure to take on projects at work that interest me. I don’t get to choose every single task I have to do, but I do get to choose some things.
We are travel hacking. My husband and I just received our first high rewards credit cards. We have plans to meet the bonus redemption minimums. We will be traveling to Costa Rica next year, staying at a super classy resort, and it will all be free. I am not waiting until retirement to travel, through travel hacking, and some eager grandparents ready to host their granddaughter, we can do this now, while our bodies can still climb the Costa Rican volcanoes and mountains.I will write about our plans, and how to travel hack in 2021 in future posts if people request it.
On my path to financial independence, I will not wait to reach the finish line to live my best life. After all isn’t the FIRE movement about living out our best years in the ways we want to, doing what we enjoy while we’re still young enough to do so? I’ll holla!