Why FIRE? // The Search for Options

The FIRE, or Financial Independence Retire Early, community thrives online, with many memorable and incredibly helpful personalities out there to shine the light on their personal financial journeys. FIRE people are so incredibly varied that it’s pretty easy to find someone whose situation parallels yours; you’ve got everyone from Millennials looking to retire in a few years to folks who have already retired. Some people are just getting started on their journey to independence  and some only have a few months left. (And all of them are super friendly!)

But why? Why are all of these people stashing away money like crazy (woah! lookin’ at you, 70-80% savings rate)? Are they all going to quit their jobs in 10-20 years? What are they going to DO?

And wait a minute. I’m only 20. I haven’t even hit my quarter-life crisis stage yet! What’s up with that?? Is it true that while I’ve only just entered the workforce (I’ve been working for a little over 3 years now), I’m already eyeballing my exit?

Not quite. Well sort of. What I’m really looking at is options. And by options, I really mean freedom. And by freedom, I really mean freedom to not freedom from.

Wait what?

I’m not looking for freedom from work. I still want to work, but I want it to be meaningful and enjoyable. After all, good work brings purpose to life and what would there be for us humans without purpose?

I suppose I am looking for freedom from some things. I’m looking for freedom from 40-60 hour work weeks and freedom from a desk job. There’s work out there that doesn’t involve cubicles or conference calls and that doesn’t constantly wear on your psyche (ugh, burnout). Meaningful work can be found in all sorts of projects and endeavors – blogging, child rearing, commissioned artistry, etc.

Mostly though, I want freedom to- freedom to keep my options open and focus on the grander things in life. Things like:

  • Family of the nuclear variety. If I decide to have children (c’mon! I’m 20; it’s all up in the air) I want to have the freedom to spend time with them and focus on building those relationships as much as I absolutely can. I want to have as much time during the formative years and have the ability to be flexible throughout their childhood.
  • The Great Outdoors. The natural world has always brought me a sense of wonder and awe that nothing else can match up to. The Earth is amazing and there’s so many ways to explore it and rejoice in it. I don’t spend nearly as much time as I would like breathing in that beauty even with my regular weekend hiking expeditions. I want the freedom to hike and ski as much as I’d like (hint: it’s a lot).
  • Other relationships like those with the rest of my family (immediate and extended), my friends, and the community I live in. I’ve been blessed with a large, loving family and I want to be able to spend as much time with them as possible – wouldn’t it be great if I could regularly spend time with my cousins once removed? I want to cultivate those relationships in a way I’m not currently able to.
  • My art. So often I come home from work too tired to draw and barely able to focus on what my hands are doing as I crochet my latest blanket. I don’t have the energy to take up new crafts that I’ve been thinking about for awhile – knitting, cross-stitch, maybe even sewing. Maybe I could even get back into fiction writing.

I want to get to the point where I could retire early if I wanted to, even if I don’t take up the mantle of the retiree right away. Some lovely bloggers have taken up the term fully funded lifestyle change (FFLC) to best express this; we’re not looking to retire early, we’re looking for options!

What are you guys looking for? FIRE? Just FI? FFLC?  What is your meaningful work?

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