A common argument against FIRE I’ve heard goes like this:
“Why not just get a job you love?”
Well, there are a number of issues with this idea.
And I’ll break them down today.
Keep in mind, this comes from the perspective of someone who’s had dozens of jobs over the course of his life. I picked up my first job at eight years old.
So I have plenty of experience with jobs, yet I was never able to find one that I loved.
It’s pretty easy to understand why.
A Job Is Not The Same As Work
First, there’s a mental framework I operate with regarding this subject.
That framework is this: a job is not the same as work.
A job is simply a place you go to for many hours per day so that you can exchange your time, effort, and skills for money.
Clock in. Clock out. Make money. Go home.
Very straightforward stuff here.
But work is something altogether different.
Work is something you do because you’re passionate about it.
Work, when done correctly, allows you to be productive and progress forward as a person.
A job is usually (but not always) not fun. Most people don’t like their jobs.
Work, on the other hand, is almost always highly enjoyable.
There’s a big reason for this.
On Your Terms
That reason is pretty obvious.
Work is something you do on your terms. Work usually allows for almost complete autonomy.
A job is not something you do on your terms. A job usually allows for very little autonomy.
That makes for a world of difference. It’s huge.
I always saw my job like being in prison.
I’m told when to show up, what to do, when to eat, when to wake up, when I should go to bed, etc. I had a couple hours per day of “free time”. My boss was akin to a warden. That totally sucks.
But the work I do these days is all on my terms.
I do what I want, when I want, where I want, with whom I want.
I work on projects that fill me with joy. And I work with people I love working with. Plus, I do all of it when and and how I prefer to do it.
A job cannot provide that kind of flexibility, which inherently limits the enjoyment one can find in it.
Just imagine other relationships in your life working this way.
If someone loves me, they should want me to be free to do things as I wish them to be done.
I couldn’t imagine being with a partner who told me they loved me, only to then command me to do the things they want done at times that work best for them.
But my partner pays me money to do what she wants…
That’s not love. That’s control.
I honestly don’t know how I could love something if it doesn’t love me back.
A Unicorn Job
I’ll use a real-life example to illustrate this lack of control for you.
I love working out. Exercise, for me, is a huge passion in my life.
I’m in the gym six days per week, at about 45 minutes per session. It’s a source of real satisfaction in my life. I consider it hard work that keeps me grounded. And it offers me a ton of ancillary benefits across the rest of my life.
Now let’s play pretend for a moment and convert this passionate work of mine into a “job”:
- I now have to show up to the gym at 7:00 a.m., lift a certain amount of tonnage throughout the day, fulfill quotas, attend meetings, make sure my co-workers are happy with my productivity without making them look bad, deal with gym drama, eat within a 30-minute break around noon, and clock out at around 6:00 p.m.
- I have to repeat this process five days per week. Maybe even an occasional Saturday, too.
- Oh, and I have to do this 50 weeks per year, until I’m in my early 60s.
How long do you think it’d take until I got sick of working out?
I’d be burned out within a week!
Jobbing up a passion would turn something I love into something I loathe.
The problem is, there’s no such thing as a unicorn job that you’ll love. That’s because a job will never be something you do totally on your terms. You’ll never love it, because it’ll never love you.
You might like your job well enough to do it for a very long time. That’s if you’re really lucky about it and plan things out just right.
But if you honestly ask yourself if you feel a deep sense of purpose and passion from your job – would you continue to do it if you had unlimited money? – I doubt you’d like the answer.
This is why FIRE remains so critical to one’s long-term happiness and meaning.
You “sacrifice” for a few years of your life in order to live the rest of your life on your terms.
Yes, you’ll almost certainly continue to work past the point of financial necessity. That’s the paradox of FIRE.
But it’ll be work – not a job.
And it’ll be on your terms.
“FIRE is dumb. Why not just get a job you’ll love?”
People who ask this question are myopic and unable to see the difference between work and a job.
Even if you gave me a job that was based around something I genuinely enjoy, it wouldn’t be long before I despised it.
So get busy achieving FIRE so that you can fire your boss. Then hire yourself as your own boss and get busy working on productive passions that keep you progressing forward in your life.
What do you think? Is this question valid? Should people just get a job they love?
Thanks for reading.
Image courtesy of: Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
P.S. If you’re ready to achieve FIRE and do work that you love to do, make sure to check out some amazing products and services I personally used on my way to becoming financially free at 33.