Yesterday something interesting happened.
I decided to tell a few friends of mine about FIRE.
I’m from a business background and work in management consulting. Most of my friends have studied something similar and also have a corporate life.
This means that most of my friends feel like me. If money wasn’t a problem, they probably would work less and probably with something different.
But yesterday I was together with some of my creative friends. The type of friends that have followed their passions and are now actors, choreographers, designers and musicians.
Most of them do not have a lot of money, and they never really know whether they will be able to pay the bills next month.
They are very frugal by nature and hate consumerism – and most things associated with big businesses and capitalism.
Therefore, I was waiting in excitement to tell them about FIRE.
I wanted to present to them their best opportunity to fight the system. To escape the claws of capitalism and live a life free from the worries of money.
I thought it would be a super nova explosion of enthusiasm as it had been for me when I first discovered the concept of financial independence.
I was ready to tell them that it didn’t matter how much money you made (at least not only). That it was more important what your savings rate was, and so on…
The moment finally came when I presented FIRE as best as I could.
To my surprise, they didn’t really follow why financial independence and early retirement was such a great thing. They had a few questions and comments, and then they just proceeded with talking about something else.
What?! Here was the single best concept I know – and it is even fully aligned with all of their values, and they weren’t really interested.
I couldn’t believe it, but it made me reflect on what they said.
Why my friends weren’t impressed with FIRE
My friends weren’t impressed because they don’t work as much as I do and they work with something they are truly passionate about.
My friends have weeks where they are employed and weeks where they aren’t. Some of them only have weekend work, some of the work a few evenings a week. You get the point. They are not forced to sit in a cubicle all day.
They don’t experience the corporate treadmill like I do. Nor do they dread the next 40 years of 9-5 jobs, because they don’t have one.
My friends work with something that they are very passionate about. They spend all of their working time (and free time) on music, painting, acting etc., which means that they don’t necessarily experience it as what we would call “work”.
Sure, they would like to have an infinite amount of money, and this was the only part of the concept they bought. They agreed that it would be nice to be able to travel the world and live well without having to think about money.
But they all agreed that if they had all the money in the world, they would still do exactly what they are doing today.
Isn’t that amazing? They are already following their passions and doing what they want. Therefore, to them, FIRE isn’t as relevant as it is for us.
I truly enjoy being a consultant, but I would rather spend my time differently (or at least have more flexibility in terms of when to work). I would actually do things differently if I had enough money to cover my expenses without having to work. This is why the whole concept of financial independence and the freedom that it brings is so relevant for me.
I wonder whether are actually more happy than I am at the moment. They might not earn as much, but they have a lot of free time and wouldn’t do anything differently if they could.
I might be sacrificing too much present happiness over future happiness when I could have both.
What do you think? Are my friends more happy? Am I just wasting time trying to achieve FIRE to then follow my passions instead of just following my passions right away?