What’s wrong with work?

We want to retire early- in approximately six years to be exact.

Is this because we hate working? We hate our jobs? We just want to sit on the couch all day?

Definitely not.

Neither of us hates our jobs. Poopsie actually doesn’t mind his at all and he has achieved a lot throughout his career. I don’t hate my job either. I have been in some roles that have completely bored me, but even then, I wouldn’t say that I hated it. There has been an aspect to every single job that I’ve done that I’ve enjoyed- even if that was just the people I worked with!

Neither of us are particularly lazy people. We have achieved a great deal, both professionally and personally. Poopsie is at the top of his career trajectory, and he reached it in a fairly short space of time. He’s also a fitness fanatic and is currently studying for a Masters degree.

I obviously haven’t been working for as long, but have still achieved a lot. I have an Undergraduate degree and a Masters degree, and I have received promotions, pay rises and high praise in my chosen field.

So why do we want to retire?

To put it in the most simplest terms possible: freedom.

We want the freedom to do whatever we want, whenever we want. We currently do not have that freedom. We have full time jobs that sometimes require out of hours work and we only get four weeks of holidays per year. Occasionally, we have to travel for work and, particularly in Poopsie’s case, that often includes weekends as well.

Yes, there are many things in life we can do while working full time, and we make sure we do, but there are also a lot of things we can’t do because of the demands of our jobs. Our time is certainly constrained. We can’t wake up in the morning and decide, based on the weather, that we’re going to spend the day at the beach. Instead, we have to go to work. I have a window in my office that I often sit and stare out of. On beautiful, sunny days, it completely bums me out that I am at work.

Bring on more beach time in retirement.

We also want the freedom to do work that we want to do, if that opportunity presents itself. Based on the timeline we’ve set, it’s entirely possible that just before we retire, Poopsie may be offered a position that he has always dreamed about. He may decide to take it, thus delaying our retirement. But, it’s just as important that, if he is not offered that position, he can say “no thank you” and submit his resignation.

I have always wanted to work in a library. I think that would be such an enjoyable job. I doubt it pays very much though, and I wouldn’t necessarily want to do it five days a week. Being financially independent and retired may give me the opportunity to work in a library one day a week. That sounds awesome to me!

We want to walk the Camino de Santiago, but can’t necessarily get the two/three months off from work to do so. We’d like to be able to pick the time we do it as well- doing it over Christmas (the most likely time we would be able to get a significant amount of time off work) does not appeal to us. If we finish the Camino and then decide to walk all the way back to the beginning, we want to be able to do that! Not have to rush back to Australia to work at a job we have no passion for.

We both want to spend time living overseas, perhaps in the United Kingdom. While Poopsie might serve beer in the village pub, he will be doing this for the experience, not because we need the money. If we decided to move to the UK now, we’d have to live in a large city, just so we could maintain a high enough paying job to support us. Doing it as a retired couple is much more affordable and means we can do it exactly as we want- in a sleepy village about an hour from London. Perfect!

There are just so many things we want to do, and working full time doesn’t allow us to do them. A lot of our time will be spent at home. I love to write and hope to do a lot of that in retirement- but just for fun, not to make money. Poopsie wants to build an enormous vegetable garden and make our home sustainable. Yes, these things can be done when you work full time, but we both think they’ll be a lot more enoyable when we don’t have to stop doing them to head to work.

Do you plan to stop working earlier than most? If so, why? And if not, why not? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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7 Responses to What’s wrong with work?

  1. Steve Green says:

    Great post there, I have only recently stumbled on your blog so haven’t read that many posts yet but I think you have nailed it with this one.

    Many seem to associate the concept of retirement as suddenly finding yourself with no direction or goals, doing nothing all day and losing your day to day contact with the community. I find this type of opinion is sometimes used by those that don’t wish to take responsibility of striving for financial freedom. It is easier to cope by pretending to yourself that retiring is not good and you need your full-time job.

    You have highlighted that it is about choice and not necessarily giving up on goals and working. As you say your husband may accept a great job offer, but the point is it sounds like he may have the choice to not have to. You can have the choice of working in a library, and your husband in a pub in the UK so it doesn’t have to mean giving up work and it may be that such choices vastly expands your social network rather than the opposite.

    I quit my full-time job a couple of years ago and didn’t think of it as retirement. Although many still probably think I do nothing all day I still find myself at least as busy. The difference I find is sure I don’t earn as much money, but I choose how to spend my time which means I enjoy everything I do. I still work but I have chosen my projects to work on, and when occasionally I have had enough I have the flexibility to drop things very quickly for a few weeks or even a month here and there if I really wanted to slow down.

    For me at times it has involved charity work, blogging, spending my time on investing, writing investment research, consulting, freelance writing and even chicken farming. I have also got to experience more “slow travel” in various countries. This can be a refreshing change from taking a couple of weeks annual leave and rushing around ticking the box of tourist attraction highlights that everyone is saying you must see. And I also never hated my job, in fact enjoyed it. I sometimes still miss parts of it, but don’t ever wish I had it back at the moment.

    Sorry for my long reply, I think I might have waffled on longer than your post but find it an interesting topic!

  2. Ashley says:

    I dream of retirement for the exact same reason!

    When I had my first job out of college, I knew something didn’t sit right in my gut when I too stared out the window and wished to be elsewhere for a large part of the day. I was introduced to ideas and perspectives about work from a magazine I picked up on the suggestion of a friend called The New Philosopher (It is out of Australia!). They had an issue on work and an article on “wage slaves” which I found fascinating (I think it can be found here: http://www.newphilosopher.com/articles/masters-and-servants/) for framing what it is to have to trade your time for currency.

    I thought Nigel Marsh (who resides in Australia– I really love your country) in his talk at TEDxSydney hit the nail on the head when he said, “…the reality of the society that we’re in is there are thousands and thousands of people out there leading lives of quiet, screaming desperation, where they work long, hard hours at jobs they hate to enable them to buy things they don’t need to impress people they don’t like”

    My husband and I don’t have a solid plan to retire early. For us, the road is still quite long (we plan on starting a family in a few years and have just purchased our first property), but (unlike a lot of Americans) we do have a retirement plan that will allow us comfortably maintain our standard of living. And as we continue to make smart financial choices (I hope!), we might someday be able to quit the life of full-time work and become part-time librarians– it is the sweetest of dreams!

    • So glad you’re getting some great info out of Australia, Ashley! You should come back for another visit 😉

      I’m glad to hear you’ve got a retirement plan, so many people don’t. Retiring early is not everyone’s goal, but we all accept that eventually, we won’t want to work anymore (and possibly won’t even be able to), so it’s so important to have a plan.

      Congratulations on the purchase of your first property!

  3. You both have such great plans when you retire. They sound lovely – especially the library and vegetable garden. I’d love the option to retire early, or to ‘retire’ for 6-12 months and then return to work. I’d like to work in Japan for a little while, on a farm or other work hand (something simple and hands on), not for the money but just as a delightful way to spend time and experience the country. I’d even love to retire formally at 70 or so but have had mini retirements along the way, travel more through Europe and the UK. Partly because I’ve started my working life so late and because I enjoy my work etc. I don’t think I’ll retire before 50, but the option to would be awesome.

    • You have some great ideas for either early retirement or a short sabattical. I think you’re definitely able to give yourself the option of retiring before 50, just keep plugging away, saving away. But you’re right, sometimes it isn’t necessarily about the retiring early, but rather about having the option to do so if your situation changes.

  4. Mrs. ETT says:

    I sometimes wonder whether FIRE has contributed to some job dissatisfaction. After all, before FIRE I didn’t know that there was another possibility. I definitely feel the restrictions of work a lot more now. I must start at this time, finish at another, only take 1/2 hour break for lunch, have to explain myself if I am sick, ask permission to take time off…

    I do know that I haven’t enjoyed a job as much as I did in the first 10 years of work. I used to love working, I would wake up with a spring in my step every day, glad to be going to work. I don’t know if I was naive, or just low enough on the totem pole back then that the vagaries of bureaucracy never touched me. I’ve never had a job that I hated – only ever people where I felt the only solution for me was to leave.

    I enjoyed reading more about your plans for the future, and how different life will be in 6 years for you guys!

    • I think you raise an interesting point, Mrs ETT. Before knowing about early retirement, we probably weren’t as disatisfied with work- we simply didn’t know there was another option. So on the one hand, it’s FIREs fault we don’t like work but on the other hand… we are pretty happy to be FIREing!

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