It’s been more than four years since I quit my job in search of greener pastures.
The greener pasture I was most in pursuit of is, of course, FIRE.
FIRE is so green because that pasture is filled with money.
Am I right?!
All kidding aside, quitting my job the day after my 32nd birthday was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Sure, I’d have more money if I had stayed on at the dealership – a lot more money.
But since I view money as a resource that’s worth much, much less than my time is as a resource, it’s a no-brainer for me.
FIRE has been the greenest pasture I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing with my own two eyes, which is why I try to inspire and provide tools for others to reach for their own version of FIRE. My most recent best-selling book on the subject, 5 Steps To Retire In 5 Years, is a great example of that.
Now that I’ve had more than four years to experience FIRE, I wanted to report back on something I recall a few people telling me when they had heard my plan to quit my job:
But you’ll be bored…
That’s right. Some people thought I’d be bored out of my mind once I quit my job.
It was as if without supervision from a boss, I’d be a directionless, depressed slug of a person without a reason to exist. There couldn’t possibly be anything to life other than a job, for I was put on this planet to clock in and follow the instructions of my superiors. Nothing was waiting for me out there. The grind was the end-all, be-all. Without wage slavery and a 9-5 slave mindset, you couldn’t possibly live a meaningful life.
That is, of course, an exaggeration. But it does speak to the heart of the matter: many people honestly believe that boredom awaits those that quit their jobs.
Well, I’m here to announce, more than four years into this thing, it’s not true.
The Status Quo Is Boring
First, let’s get something right out of the way.
The only thing that’s ever been boring to me was my job!
They say only boring people are bored. Maybe. Maybe not.
I’d like to think I’m a pretty interesting person, but I can say that my job was super boring.
I mean, we’re talking about doing the same repetitive tasks, over and over again, for decades of one’s life.
Isn’t that the very definition of boring?
The status quo – a job – is boring. That’s what’s boring to me.
To even think about being back at the dealership today, where I’d be dealing with the same issues and people that I was dealing with 5-10 years ago, is a total snoozefest to me. I have a hard time thinking of anything more boring than that.
Where’s the growth? The change? The new?
There’s an old saying in business that goes like this:
If you’re not growing, you’re dying.
Well, I’m not sure what better example of not growing there could be than a job, where it’s doing roughly the same set of tasks for years on end. This is probably why I felt like I was dying back then. It felt like a slow, painful death.
The Opposite Of Boring
FIRE, to me, is the opposite of boring.
It couldn’t be less boring.
FIRE opens up your entire world. Whereas a job limits, constrains, and insulates you, FIRE unleashes you and your inner potential. Your precious resources (like time and energy) no longer being sucked up by repetitive tasks allows you to more creatively and passionately allocate yourself.
There’s almost unlimited growth available to you in FIRE.
There’s financial growth (practically guaranteed by the inevitable nature of a compounding snowball), physical growth (like getting in the best shape of your life), mental growth (like learning about totally new and exciting concepts), etc.
Being the best version of yourself and living your best life requires the availability of all of your resources. Something as exhilarating as becoming your best self isn’t even close to boring.
Since I quit my job more than four years ago, I don’t think I’ve been bored even once. I couldn’t imagine being bored when there’s so much to take advantage of.
My life is now full of memories I wouldn’t otherwise have if I had been spending most of my waking hours over the past four or so years jobbing it up.
For example, I’ve been able to move abroad. This is a very un-boring thing that wouldn’t have been possible back when I had a job.
Now living in Thailand, I’m able to experience a totally different culture, lifestyle, and perspective. It’s been fantastic.
I’m not totally positive where this boredom line of thought comes from, but I think it’s partly out of innocent ignorance and partly out of the crab mentality.
There’s envy at play, so some people will naturally try to bring you down to their level. And citing “boredom” is a pretty easy card to pull, in a passive-aggressive way.
While the crab mentality is just an unfortunate part of how some people react to the good fortune of others, the ignorance aspect is, in my view, out of the false belief that no job equals no structure.
Since most people only know a job, and the structure it provides, it’s easy to assume that boredom awaits those that step outside that box.
Without some structure to the flow of our lives, we can become lost. And when people just ignorantly bring up boredom, I think it’s this that they might actually be thinking about. They think people going after FIRE are purposely aiming to lose the structure, and those still operating within heavily structured lives (structured by/around their jobs) believe this is a bad idea.
FIRE isn’t a one-size-fits-all idea, so your idea of FIRE will naturally vary a bit from mine.
However, almost everyone I’ve talked to that are successfully FIRE (which is, admittedly, a small pool of people) have structure in their lives. Actually, the most successful people (in all arenas of life) I’ve ever studied have very structured lives.
While I initially was excited to lose the routine, I realized later that the routine wasn’t bad at all. It’s just that having a routine that’s not suited for me was bad. Having someone else structure my life for me isn’t very nice. It’s like someone else telling you where you’ll live, who you’ll date, and what you’ll eat. It’s not nice. It’s like being in prison.
Indeed, I’ve pointed to my own ignorance on this subject, noting that I’ve come around to realizing that reprogramming my mind to enjoy a routine has helped me become happier and more successful. A routine is something I used to think was the enemy, when it was actually just the wrong routine that was the problem.
FIRE gives us the options to create a life that’s customized for us and by us, and that means we can live an authentic and content life.
Structure isn’t bad.
Bad structure is bad.
FIRE gives you the opportunity to restructure your life in a way that’s more suitable for your unique DNA.
Furthermore, that structure can be more appropriately right-sized.
My afternoons are heavily structured around my daily visits to the coffee shop, content production and consumption, and exercise.
However, my evenings are pretty open. I’m able to fully enjoy my evenings because I’m no longer recuperating from the overwhelming and incorrect structure that used to drain me for ~11 hours per day.
So it’s not only a more correct structure, but it also allows for the non-structured time to be more enjoyable.
Lastly, there seems to be some kind of belief that no job equals no passion.
It’s almost as if whatever job you’re doing is by default your passion, when that’s actually almost always not the case at all.
Most people don’t enjoy their jobs.
A job isn’t a passion; it’s a paycheck. There’s a big difference between a passion and a paycheck, just like there’s a big difference between a job and work.
Being FIRE allows you to work on your passions. It’s precisely the act of not allocating so many resources toward a non-passion that frees you up to finally get cracking on your true passions.
Indeed, I believe there’s a ton of value in discovering your passions way before you quit your job. And there are many methods to go about finding out exactly what your passions are.
Being FIRE (or at least partially so) means you can do meaningful and productive work that aligns your talents and interests with your time.
And these passions will often result in some kind of monetary benefit, keeping you busy in an enjoyable manner while also making money.
Furthermore, doing work rather than showing up to a job is arguably making the world a far better place in the end. It’s a huge win-win at both the personal level and societal level that shouldn’t be discounted.
Retire early? But you’ll be bored!
Maybe you’ve heard this from someone. Maybe you haven’t.
Either way, I hope this short piece gives you some insight into not only where this line of thought is coming from, but also how incorrect that thought process is.
Believe me. FIRE is anything but boring!
I’m living the most interesting, productive, and exciting life I’ve ever lived. And I’m a far, far better version of myself today than I was back when I was engrossed in the boring 9-5 (or 7-6, in my case).
I’d argue the world is a lot better off with Jason the engaged FIRE writer, investor, and philanthropist than it would be with Jason the bored service advisor.
What do you think? Has anyone told you that you’d be bored if you FIRE? Has FIRE been boring for you?
Thanks for reading.
Image courtesy of: saphatthachat at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
P.S. If you’re looking to become financially free, which could allow you to live a much more interesting life, check out some amazing resources that I personally used on my way to becoming financially free at 33!