Does work define who you are?
“What do you do for work?”
How often do you get this question when you meet someone for the very first time? And how often do you introduce yourself by saying what you do for work?
If your job is sales related, then immediately you receive a label as the “sales person.” The person you just met then associates you with any good and bad attributes normally associated with somebody in sales.
Similarly, if your job is technical, like an engineer or a programmer, then immediately you receive a label as the “smart technical person and any good and bad attributes usually associated with people in the field.
Why do we allow others to use our job to define who we are and our personal attributes? And why is this socially acceptable?
Work should be a small subset of your life!
Instead of introducing ourselves by stating what we do for work, shouldn’t we introduce ourselves by stating our passions and interests?
For example, compare these two introductions.
“Hi I’m Bob. I work as a product manager at a high tech company managing products that generate multi-million dollars in revenues for our company… blah blah blah…”
“Hi I’m Bob, I am very passionate about personal finance and investing. I am aiming to achieve financial independence in my early 40’s. I love outdoor activities like hiking, skiing, rock climbing, and kayaking. I also love watching all sports, especially hockey. I enjoy making and eating good food. I love taking landscape photos as well as creating unique portraits that capture human emotions. One of my life goals is to visit all 7 continents.”
See the huge difference between the two introductions? By stating my passions and interests, I am trying to create a personal connection. I don’t know about you but I think by stating what I do for work just makes me sound quite boring.
By creating a personal connection with the person I just met, it opens the door to the possiblity that we share similar passions and interests. Perhaps we can learn from each other and become close friends.
Don’t let work define who you are.
You are more than what you do for work.
Why do people retire early?
Speaking of work and how work becomes a large part of your life, Mrs. Our Next Life asked an interesting question recently:
Does anyone who is serious awesome at their job retire early?
Those people who are pursuing financial independence retire early (FIRE), are they just not good with their jobs? Is that the only reason they want to get out of the rat race and do something else?
I don’t think so.
I believe many people were awesome at their jobs when they first started, whether working in sales, engineer, programmer, trades, or other areas. However, as they climb the corporate ladder or advance in their careers, they have to take on more and more responsibilities. Although this advancement typically comes with higher salary, it also means having less time to do what they are good at when they started the job originally. For example if you are a programmer you probably enjoy writing code and solving problems. As you advance in your career and start managing people, you might end up spending all day in meetings and managing other people’s work instead of coding and solving problems. Thus they don’t get as much enjoyment out of work anymore.
Therefore, these people feel trapped in their jobs because they aren’t doing things that they enjoy. Their jobs become the cause of many problems in their lives. So these people start to look for ways to get out of this downward spiral. And one of the ways to get out is FIRE.
On the other hand, some people are ridiculously awesome at their jobs no matter where they are in their careers. They are just so awesome. But they realized that their jobs are restricting their freedom. They can’t drop everything and go traveling for a year, take a nap at whatever time in the day, or go skiing on a blue bird Wednesday.
The freedom associated with FIRE becomes extremely attractive to these people. And so that results in the pursuit of FIRE.
For me, there is way more to life than work. And that’s why I want to reach financial independence. (Although if you talk to Mrs. T she might disagree. She thinks I spend way too much time working).
I want to reach financial independence so I can work because I choose to, not because I have to. When I realized the importance of this key difference, I began to appreciate why financial independence is so attractive. I will be no longer tied to a particular job, I will have the ultimate flexibility and freedom.
Work does not dictate my life.