In the Personal Finance community, FIRE stands for Financial Independence / Retire Early. However, most people don’t actually want to retire.
Does the successful author or musician stop creating when they become financially secure?
Retire is a word used when we do work that doesn’t provide physical or mental freedom. Instead of working years to retire, even early, we can transition to a lifestyle career of doing work that we would do for free, and hopefully get paid. Or, we can work part time, take sabbaticals, work for non-profits, and generally just experiment and have fun traversing the corporate lattice!
Being FIRE’d up, can then mean that we are free to pursue what lights up us… what sparks us. We are free from needing accolades and titles. We are free from the fear of annual reviews and meeting arbitrary and unrealistic deadlines. We are free from debt. We are free from feeling that we have to explain to society how we spend our time.
If you are on FIRE…
… you have Freedom.
… you have Intellect.
… you have Resourcefulness.
… you have Enough.
Let’s look closer:
Freedom: This is more than just financial freedom. This is freedom from physical attachments and emotional limitations. Freedom from societal expectations. Freedom from needing external rewards and validation. Freedom from needing titles and labels. Freedom to be authentic.
Intellect: Most people who have high intellects crave autonomy and creative freedom. Being forced into a 9-5 work schedule, staring at a cubicle wall, doesn’t work well for the creativity of intellects. Intellects never “retire”, but rather they want the option to reduce the “busy-ness” of their careers and be able to have time to amuse their curiosities and ponder… or as Einstein called it, daydream. Daydreaming is very shunned in our modern work world, but employers should embrace it, because it is essential to create meaningful outcomes.
Resourcefulness: Resourceful people are creative. They get more satisfaction out of what they have done, rather than what they bought. This is not being frugal, this is being self-reliant…. resilient…. sustainable…. self-actualized.
Enough: This story sums it up… At a party given by a billionaire on Shelter Island, Kurt Vonnegut tells his friend, Joseph Heller, that their host, a hedge fund manager, had made more money in a single day than Heller had earned from his wildly popular novel Catch-22 over its whole history. Heller said, “Yes, but I have something he will never have: Enough.”