The FIRE (Financial Independence/Retire Early) unicorn and its impacts on your career

The FIRE unicorn is ruining my career!

I loved my job

Before I discovered the FIRE (Financial Independence/Retire Early) movement, I was somewhat of a workaholic. Consequently, getting ahead at work and securing a better position were hugely important to me.

 

In fact, my beloved used to complain that my work and work colleagues were the most important thing to me. This is probably because this was the truth in a lot of ways.

 

My career was very important to me. As a result, I used to put in long hours, obsess over work matters during and after work, and talk my beloved’s ear off about work.

 

The benefits of caring so much about my career were that I enjoyed going to work, didn’t mind the commuting time, and just accepted the daily grind as an inevitable part of life.

 

Why did I love work?

I think in those days I required the intellectual challenge of work; and the feeling of achievement that my work provided.

 

Obtaining a pay rise or permanent promotion were the most important things to me. The idea of not going to work didn’t even register as an option.

 

So, what happened???

Then I discovered the FIRE movement. A community of people dedicated to achieving financial independence as soon as possible so that early, or partial, retirement can be pursued well before conventional timeframes.

 

Once my mindset started to shift into FIRE mode, my perspective changed. Suddenly, I wanted to spend all of my time with my beloved, and the idea of going to my job every day became a chore.

 

Additionally, I stopped caring about work. All my answers to my beloved’s daily question “how was work today?” became “fine”. And, I stopped thinking about my work and colleagues outside of business hours.

 

Why is that a bad thing?

Discovering the FIRE ideal has had a significant impact on my career aspirations. I’ve essentially spun the wheel and put myself on a 180 degree career trajectory in terms of motivation, enjoyment and interest.

 

Things have become so bad, that I wasn’t even excited about a 12 month promotion I recently received. I should have been incredibly excited about this as I didn’t have to apply or interview for it, which is not the usual procedure at my workplace.

 

Instead of being excited and proud, I was a bit ambivalent about it all. The only thing that did excite me was the prospect of a pay rise as this would enable me to get closer to my FIRE aspirations.

 

Obviously, this is not good. Work becoming a chore is not what I need as we are a looonnggg way from achieving financial independence.

 

Additionally, achieving FIRE relies on my career. Being motivated and passionate about my work helps me earn promotions… And promotions = $$$.

 

So… What’s a unicorn got to do with FIRE?

If you’re not familar with the symbology of unicorns, here’s the low-down…

 

Unicorns are the symbol of infinite possibilities. The unicorn is said to give you the ability to see all possibilities and the unrelenting faith to push you to pursue and achieve all possibilities. As a result, summoning the unicorn results in success in whatever it is you desire and pursue.

 

Somewhere amongst my personal finance epiphany last year, I summoned the unicorn. I went from having no interest in FIRE, to becoming all about FIRE. I developed an unrelenting belief in the FIRE ideal and its achievability.

 

This has helped us become better money managers, savvy shoppers and frugalistas. However, it has also tainted my reality.

 

I mean, if it were as easy as just spending less than we earn, then why isn’t everyone doing it? Why would the vast majority of the population choose to spend 40-50 years of their lives working 5 days a week if there really were a simple option not to?

 

Here’s just some of the reasons why FIRE isn’t being chased by everyone:

1. People don’t want it. Some people feel that they need to work, not for the money, but for the intellectual challenge it provides, social interaction engaged in, or sense of achievement they get from it.

2. People can’t achieve it. Minimum wage sucks. For some people, just putting food on the table is an achievement. The minimum wage in countries like Australia just isn’t sufficient enough to allow people to get ahead with the cost of living.

3. People don’t believe it’s possible. The idea of FIRE as a result of simply spending less than one earns is an incomprehensible concept.

4. People aren’t willing to sacrifice what’s needed now to set themselves up in the future. After all, the term YOLO exists for a reason!

 

My reality

Chances are, I’ll not achieve FIRE anytime soon, if at all. My beloved and I haven’t been smart with our money in the past and let the Lifestyle Creep get the better of us. As a result, we are starting on the back foot at a time when having children (AKA, expensive little buggers) is at the front of our minds.

 

So… What should I do?

Now that I’ve taken the unicorn mask off and put the reality monster mask back on, let’s get real…

 

Should I give up on FIRE? Absolutely not! Life is unpredictable; with the only true guarentees being birth and death. 

 

Despite my realisations, I’m still going to try my bloody hardest to achieve FIRE. At the end of the day, the worst that can happen is that we’re more financially prepared for the disasters that life may throw our way!

 

Cheers, TFC.

Posted in FIRE and tagged , , , , , .

The Flawed Consumer is a Gen Y consumer that is on a mission to achieve wealth simply by changing spending and lifestyle habits.

10 Comments

  1. You missed out one of the certainties of life – taxes!

    But I think these are some good points, it’s important to keep motivated and performing at work alongside achieving FIRE. And congrats on the promotion – that’s ace that you didn’t even need to interview. You are rocking it!

    • Of course! You do make a good point… Taxes are indeed a certainty of life! Thanks for the encouragement. 🙂

  2. Discovering FI/RE bumps up against a reality that you have had since you saw your parents work and every commercial about retirement with the same actors as a Cialis ad. When your worldview is challenged, it is painful.

    As you said, being responsible with your wealth is much more than early retirement. You can still find meaning in the challenge of your job as well as the challenge of FI. They complement each other. But, as you’ve seen, you can also find a lot of meaning in the challenge of being in a relationship and it sounds like soon the challenge of being a parent. All those struggles can and will provide meaning.

  3. I know that “fine” reply about the work day well. It’s hard to balance goals. I’m sure I can find more exciting work but chances are the pay or hours won’t be as good. It’s interesting that FIRE has set you back. I think many of us become more motivated at work to excel and earn more. Good luck trying to sort through it all. Happy to chat one day if you think it would be helpful. There are not many people in our day to day lives that get the FIRE mindset.

  4. Just discovered your blog! Good article. I think there are lots of fringe benefits to pursuing fire: financial stability, being able to take more risks as your savings getting higher, barista fire, sabbatical (mini-retirement), etc.

    I’ve been dealing with the same reality recently where FIRE isn’t close. I really believe it’s better to get there a bit slower and enjoy your life along the way.

    • Thanks for stopping by! I’m in the same category… Still enjoying my present, while setting myself up for FIRE in the future. You never know what’s going to happen in life, so I’d hate to sacrifice my now and then never get to experience the future I’d sacrificed my now for.

  5. I am 76. I retired at 65. I had a paper route at 10. I/we had 7 figures in the bank and or invested by the time I was 40. We had a beautiful home (not a McMansion) 2 nice cars etcetcetc. Sent 4 children to premier private universities. Still have 7+ figures in the bank. Children graduated debt free.
    Two things. We lived well below our income. Saved, saved, saved. 2) my life between 40 & 65 were the best years of my life. Met fabulous people, traveled well, drank well, laughed well and worked with some of the brightest minds in Medicine. Things that I said in January of that year that would never happen in my lifetime were “standard operating” procedures the next January.
    What I am saying is life gets better as you age. Had I retired when I hit my “number” I would not have made fabulous lifetime friends, missed wonderful advances in my field, and probably missed using my mind.
    FIRE was not for me.

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