Defining the greater goal

The news that early retirement/financial independence advocate Jacob Lund Fisker is retiring from retirement and going back to work has got me to thinking; what is the point of all this?

In deciding to work towards early retirement, a major motivator was the freedom to do what I wanted, when I wanted to. To be free of the responsibility and obligation to show up at a certain place at a certain time and do work that I did not come up with. I admit, I am a fairly complacent person – I struggle with lazyness. I imagine that my retirement would involve very few major projects with wide reaching outcomes. It is thus difficult for me to understand why someone who has achieved financial independence would give up this freedom in order to join the workforce again.

I have come to the realization that my lack of understanding stems from my inability to define a greater goal or purpose for my post financial independence life. The desire to achieve financial independence in and of itself is a noble goal. But, what then? In general, the populist financial independence/early retirement movement are exactly the opposite from me; they are working towards a life in which they determine their goals and work because they HAVE ambition and the clarity to see that in order to do what they want to do, financial independence is the first step. In the beginning, financial independence was the final step, for me.

Jacob, for example, likes solving big problems. He went back to work because he got a job as a quantitative trader/researcher. Quantitative investing is a technique used by large hedge funds to find patterns and trends within financial data. The financial industry will be in better hands with him in the mix. Mr. Money Moustache quit his programing career to work on his blog and buy foreclosed houses, fix them up and rent them (among other things). Trent (The Simple Dollar), is a family man, committed to helping others with their financial difficulties and getting people on the right track. They all have a greater purpose, beyond quitting their jobs.

Here at The Outlier Model, we have our master plan, but this only talks about the immediate future, and beyond that only in vague terms. I think the main message in this post is that financial independence is an excellent goal, but it is not the be all and end all. What do you want to accomplish with your life? If you could do anything, what would you do? These are the questions to work on and think about along your journey to financial freedom. I’m realizing the importance of figuring this out – it’ll be a lonely and unfulfilled existence without it.

Posted in: Philosophy

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3 Comments

  1. Good points, Outlier. I think I need to copy your idea and do my own take on this subject as well, since I’ve read a few forums now and see some people obsessed with early retirement to the point of perhaps not enjoying the road there as much as they could.

    Note that for me, the biggest goal for quitting was to become a Dad, rather than fixing up houses or blogging. Fatherhood has been about 80% of my waking hours (at least until kindergarten started this year), and the other activities I talk about on the blog are really just refreshing breaks from the real “job”.

    It makes a huge difference, because without that I would probably be more like Jacob and be working quite hard at something right now. And in the future, I will do these things. But for now, parenting is at least equal to a full-time job for both parents.

    • Brian says:

      Hi MMM,

      I think that is a very good reason to quit. Too many people view parenting as a right not a responsibility (a whole different topic for a post!) – kudos to you for fully embracing that role.

      I find it so easy to get so focused on a goal (in this case, early retirement/financial indepencence) and completely lose sight of why I’m doing it. In my case, I need to better define the why, and perhaps there are many out there like me.

      The need to have a larger purpose and grasp on what it is you want to accomplish as a person is an important theme in this community. Often this gets lost in the ‘details’ of how we are going to achieve FI.

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