It is okay to love your job! Really, it is!

Published June 20, 2016   Posted in How to Think

I spend a lot of time writing about the virtues of early retirement from full-time work and enjoying my days without a schedule, drinking coffee outside of our Airstream at 9am and pondering what the hell I’m going to do that day.

That’s mainly because I derive very little satisfaction out of my job. In fact, any job.

This frog seems to love his work!

I’ve written thousands of words and hundreds of blog posts that crap on the concept of jobs and mindless work and prop up the idea of travel as if it were this amorphous fog of brilliance. It’s what smart people do, and anyone who feels differently must have something wrong with them.

Of course I don’t believe that to be true, and I’d like to take a few minutes and tell you that there’s nothing wrong with liking your full-time job or hating to travel. Really, there isn’t!

And, there is a larger point behind the position that I’m coming from in this discussion.

There is nothing wrong with liking a full-timeย job

This is so important that it bears mentioning again (and again). It’s wonderful to love what you do (I wish I did). It’s great to love your job (again, I wish I did). There is nothing wrong with you if you don’t want to quit your job at 35 and retire early to travel the country.

I’ve written before that early retirement isn’t for everyone, and I truly do mean that.

What I write about on this blog is what works FOR ME. I personally want to retire early and travel the country in our Airstream with my wife and two rescued dogs. That’s what makes us tick, and we think it’s a kick ass plan.

But that doesn’t mean everyone’s plan needs to look something like ours, and more importantly, it doesn’t imply that those who actually like to work are somehow strange or inferior.

If work is your game, cool. I truly do respect that. We need a workforce in this country that actually wants to work and enjoys what they do. When people put genuine love into their work, the end result tends to be that much better.

Hell, I don’t want civil engineers who absolutely abhor what they do to design our nation’s next generation of replacement bridges, railroads or skyscrapers. I want those people to get off on that stuff. Live for it. Couldn’t think of anything else that they’d rather do. Teachers. Cops. Firefighters. Even politicians. Our society is fundamentally better when people love what they do.

One of the things I hear many people say is “I don’t want to retire early. I like my job“. Fair enough, but…

When I – and many others in the personal finance blogosphere – challenge people out there to examine their lives, jobs and lifestyles, what I am really doing is challenging people to confirm their love of work. Sometimes, our feels get manifested out of something completely different.

Do you actually like/love your job? Do you see yourself working until 60 or older and enjoying it? Do you thoroughly love what you do or are you just content with your place in life?

Maybe work is just a diversion from a deeper issue that you are attempting to escape at home. Or maybe it provides the social stimulus that you need and wouldn’t otherwise get without a full-time job. Perhaps your job is your way of feeling useful to society and fueling that desire that is within all of us that craves meaning and productivity.

In other words, do you like your job or is your job covering for something else that you may be struggling with in your life? Would you rather be doing something else?

Would you do your job for free?

Here comes my perspective – jobs are only one way to feel productive, or derive inner meaning, or engage in social practices. They can definitely fill the void that many of us might have in our lives without a set daily schedule. The only problem is how much these jobs are costing us in order to achieve those busy set schedules.

In other words, if your job is your way of feeling productive, there may be much more fulfilling ways to stay busy and feel productive than holding a traditional job.

Jobs can be thoroughly draining

Jobs require a TON of resources out of our lives to maintain for most of us. The commutes. The cars. The costs. The stress. The hours at the office. The time…the incredible amount of time that jobs take from our lives each and every year. If you work a traditional job, then fromย sun-up to sun-down, we’re either doing or thinking about our jobs.

Thinking about work on nights and weekends is not fun. Actually working nights and weekends can be even less fun. Button-down shirts and ties, dress clothes, dealing with childish or lazy co-workers, incompetent managers, endless meetings, performance reviews…you name it. Jobs.

Jobs are like that Hummer – it gets you from Point A to Point B, but it does so in guzzling fashion, utilizing a ton of fuel and power. It’s big. It’s bulky. And, it takes up a ton of space.

Our jobs provide us with the intellectual and social stimulation we need, but they also come with parts that just drain most of us, like waking up at the crack of dawn, wear and tear on our cars, money spent on fuel and food and clothes, stresses of downsizes and layoffs…

Worse, most of us won’t even remember our jobs at the end.

At the end of our lives, we tend to elevate our definition of meaning and accomplishment to something way more powerful, too. We remember the adventures that we took rather than the jobs we held, that cross-country trip with the family rather than the countless conference calls, the time we ran into Jerry Springer at a coffee shop at 10am on a Monday.

Unless we’re making remarkable contributions that make history, it is not in our nature to reflect on the monotony of jobs at the end of our lives. We remember having fun and smiling. We remember doing the things that truly make us tick. Life is short.

To me, maintaining a job takes way too much time out of my relatively short life, especially knowing how little satisfaction I get from doing that job. There are too many opportunities out there to explore, people to meet, places to visit, things to see.

I would have to REALLY like my job to keep pushing off early retirement.

And that brings me back to the larger point of this blog post. Jobs tend to be draining, even when we enjoy them. Do those things that genuinely bring you amazing happiness. If that includes working a full-time job, then great! Keep working that job until that happiness fades.

But, do yourself a favor and consider whether or not you actually like your job or if that job is providing you with a sense of accomplishment that you might be able to achieve elsewhere in life, doing different things, developing new skills, designing a new lifestyle routine – doing something that takes far fewer resources and demands less of your precious time.

Do you love your job? Love it enough to keep doing it until 2/3rds of your life is behind you? If that answer is yes, more power to you. I applaud and respect that. I really do.

If not – if you are content with your job but think about doing other things while at the office during the day, you may not enjoy it as much as you think. There are other options out there. Find them, and prosper.

Maybe one day, I’ll see ya out there on the road somewhere – enjoying life outside of an office.

We track our net worth using Personal Capital



Comments

47 responses to “It is okay to love your job! Really, it is!”

  1. This statement really just caught my attention – “consider whether or not you actually like your job or if that job is providing you with a sense of accomplishment that you might be able to achieve elsewhere in life”. I really did love my job and the sense of working with children (teacher/administrator) and then even when I changed jobs (professor teacher education) and worked with students who were going to be teachers. But it took a long time to realize there are other “spaces” to achieve that as well – and other people who could step in and do my job too. I hope others will read this and really reflect. My journey away from my “work” and into a new space has already been incredibly rewarding!

    • Steve says:

      Thanks for your comment, Vicki. It’s true, there are so many other spaces out there that we can find fulfillment from. Jobs can provide fulfillment, but at what cost? Ugh…

  2. I love that my job pays me well and there are some other side benefits. But probably not enough to make up for all the small negatives, many of which you pointed out. That is why I strive to retire early. I would much rather spend my time with my kids as they grow up, and countless other things. I love that my job will eventually provide the means for me to do this, so I keep plugging away and hope to reach FI ASAP!

    • Steve says:

      I’m right there with you, Green Swan. My job pays well too, but there’s just so much of it that supersedes the money. Plugging away to reach FI ASAP is the name of the game! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Thanks for this balanced message, Steve. I agree that goal in the FIRE community should be to help people consider an alternative to the traditional path, not to make that alternative then seem THE way. And I don’t know any 60 year olds who are thrilled to still be working. So setting yourself up for when you’ve had enough of the job you now love is just good planning.

    • Steve says:

      Appreciate your comment, Kalie. I think the key is just to truly know what you want. That is easier said than done sometimes, but you just gotta TRY. Everyone here is, thankfully! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Wow, what an excellent post! It sums up all of the great points for and against jobs.

    I think most people don’t derive meaning and fulfillment from their work. Very few people are that lucky.

    For me, I’m only 6 months into early retirement. I’m still finding the things I need to enjoy life outside the office… and you know what?

    It’s already 10x better than any job I ever had!

  5. Mr. SSC says:

    I do love my job, and while I wouldn’t do this current job for free (the commute alone would make me laugh at that notion) I would consider it if I was in our “ER” town. Even just consulting would still be fun. That said, I think that I can find that similar mental challenge and stimulus in other areas of my choosing that don’t involve a j. o. b. to go to everyday. I want to build a wood strip canoe, and then depending on how well that goes, a wood strip kayak. That alones eems challenging enough for me. The same with playing music. My goal is to get better and find some people to play with outside of computer backing tracks and albums, and get some social stimulus that way. Like I ask everyone that scoffs at ER, “aren’t there at least 2 things you’d rather be doing with your time right now, than being here doing what you’re doing?” I personally haven’t had a day yet where my answer is no, so even though I get a lot of satisfaction out of my work and love what I do, I’d rather be home tinkering with something in the garage, garden, or working out a song on an instrument. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Steve says:

      Yeah, commutes have a way of draining the life right out of you, don’t they? I’ve considered consulting as well and may look into that in the future on a case-by-case basis. And I’d love to see the results of your wood-building challenge! I might even take it out on a lake, too…and if I don’t come back soaking wet, it worked! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Thanks for the comment!

  6. I remember when I realized that not everyone wants to be done with their job. I was explaining my plans with real estate and how I was going to reach financial freedom. I told him we should partner on some deals so he could be done with his job as well.

    He just casually said he wasn’t interested. He liked what he was doing and plans to work for as long as he can.

    I was flabbergasted. But it helped me to understand that not everyone wants to be done with work.

    — Jim

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Jim – it’s true, early retirement definitely isn’t for everyone. And honestly, there’s nothing wrong with that. If you love to work, that’s awesome…continue working. I don’t begrudge anyone who feels that way.

      But if you actually DO want to retire early…ah, there’s a commonality that we’ll have in common! ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. vicki says:

    Oh God, hell no I wouldn’t be working if I didn’t get paid. I’m a medical researcher. I hate the egos around me, the lack of support, the SEXISM in science (I’m fucking fed up with being referred to as one of the girls), no recognition, low pay in science (after getting a science degree and having ten years of experience, I was making only 44k per year!). And that was full time all those years and asking twice for a raise. Now I make more, but not much.This is in Seattle. It blows. Academic research and science just blows as a career. Funding from the NIH has tanked since 2008. It’s never recovered. I really want to contribute in a meaningful way, but figuring out molecular pathways so that drug companies can come up with one more toxic drug for weight loss (or whatever) makes me feel angry and useless. It’s all a lie to make money. It’s a big machine. Thanks. I needed to vent. I’m on the path. I have a super supportive husband. Still grinding away.

    • Steve says:

      I hear ya, Vicki! I can only imagine the egos that you have to deal with – the information technology industry has its fair share of that crap too. A lot of computer programmers out there think that their code doesn’t stink, but from my experience, it all stinks…just at varying degrees!

      Thanks for your comment, and keep on grinding it!

    • Leigh says:

      Vent away! As a woman also in a STEM field, I have been planning to get out of this industry within ten years out of college and I’m well on my way there. I just don’t want to deal with the politics of the old boys club as you get more senior. I’m tired of the fact that in order for someone to take my complaints about coworkers seriously, a man has to believe me, which never happens. So I keep job hopping.

  8. I like my work, but greatly dislike my job. If I could perform my work under my conditions, I would likely continue for some time. However, that is not the case and so we continue to plan and save for FIRE. On the other hand, Mr. TJL loves his work, but he works for himself and has his own agenda. Rarely does he even care if his customers like the end result. It’s art dammit!

    • Steve says:

      “I like my work, but greatly dislike my job.”

      BINGO, Jolly Ledger. Absolutely spot on bingo! I feel very, very similarly – it’s the “jobiness” that I hate, not necessarily the work itself. And I like your hubby’s attitude, too. I’m sure he produces good work, but art is so damn subjective that it’s almost immaterial whether or not the end product is “good”, because “good” isn’t a term that means the same thing to everyone.

  9. Apathy Ends says:

    Currently my job allows me to do other things I enjoy by providing income, once income from my employer is no longer a necessity, I will be done working.

    I try to make the most out of working but I don’t enjoy it at the end of the day

  10. LazyFIGuy says:

    I tend to agree with you: I don’t really find joy or happiness from my job. However, I do love the money it affords me to stash away in order to buy my freedom. I’m early on the road to FI/RE, so I’m looking at pulling the plug at about age 53, which is another 9 years.

    While I would quit my job in a second, if I was able, I also agree that we need people who truly enjoy their jobs and love what they do. I’ve grown complacent and cynical in my IT career after 20 years. Basically, I go through the motions and do just enough to get by at work (I know; you bum!). I’d rather trust people who are opposite my attitude when I need some kind of crucial service (e.g. nurses, doctors, firemen, teachers).

    I’m ready to step down, open a spot in my current company, for some young go-getter who wants to take the reigns and charge forward. More power to em! I doubt I’ll be missed and that’s okay with me. I’m ready to fill my time doing the things I enjoy.

    Thanks for the post.

    • Steve says:

      Writing as someone who also works in the IT field, I know exactly where you are coming from, and I’m at that “do my job, then go home” phase as well. I’ve already done the go-getter thing and excelled, but honestly, more responsibility is overrated in my humble opinion. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Thanks for your comment!

  11. I have spent the past year thinking about this topic a lot, Steve, and I think your views are accurate. Most people tolerate their job rather truly finding satisfaction within the day-to-day grind.

    Personally, this past year taught me that I really value helping people and providing a valuable service. I can do that in many more ways than working as a school administrator or teacher. As a result, I am taking this year to explore other life options and hopefully discover what truly makes me tick.

    • Steve says:

      Thanks for your comment. I know from first-hand experience how the process of tolerating your job goes, that’s for darn sure. Best of luck in your exploration of what else is out there. I bet you’ll find your calling.

  12. Leigh says:

    I derive very little satisfaction out of my job. My boyfriend is convinced I just haven’t found the right job. I keep picking jobs to work with people I trust, rather than working in an area I’m passionate about, so I think I will pick a job I’m passionate about for my next one, e.g. in personal finance or real estate. I’m about ten years into writing software at this point (just over six as a full-time career) and I no longer get satisfaction out of it, but I also don’t have enough money to retire fully yet. (I estimate I need about 4.5 more years at my current income to save 25x expenses, so about 11 years after college.)

    I do want to retire early to have adventures, though I don’t know exactly what those adventures would look like and how long I’m willing to work before taking time off to do that. Why? The parts of life I remember the best are the adventures my boyfriend and I have had, not my jobs. I’m thankful though that even though my boyfriend loves his job, he still saves a ton. And in fact, him loving his job helps him to bring in far more income than I can with a low level of satisfaction at my job, despite us being in the same industry. So apparently loving your job can help to save more money!

    • Steve says:

      Wicked comment, thanks Leigh. It could very well be that you haven’t found the right job, or you could be like me and just fundamentally dislike the *concept* of working a “job”, regardless of what it is. Retiring 11 years after college is definitely not bad. At the end of this year, it will be 12 years for me.

      • Leigh says:

        I wonder about that for sure and I’m hopeful that those answers will come to me over the next several years as I get closer to FI. I would also love to try a variety of parttime jobs after FI for fun. Not liking my job is a huge part of why I save aggressively. It sure would be pretty magical to not have to work again after my early to mid thirties!

        • Steve says:

          I’m with you on the part-time jobs…I will probably take odd jobs here and there as the mood strikes me, too. It gets me out doing things and meeting people, and of course, the money is never a bad thing. Pad the stash!

          • This is definitely my plan too Steve! I see a theme here about teachers and how much we really love(d) what we do (or did in some cases!) It’s hard to go from being around hundreds of people (kids and peers) and hanging at home (OK – well, for the summer it was always fine!). Getting out and being with people and meeting new folks is really important to me.

          • Steve says:

            Thanks for the comment, Vicki. You definitely get huge social interaction by doing what you do, but like you said, there are other options. There is almost always a way to get more social! ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Mr. PIE says:

    To go from a work situation (drug discovery in the pharmaceutical industry) five years ago where I was passionate about my job to a place where I am now has been difficult. I have changed positions with the same company so my role is different, more on the business front. However, the changes in satisfaction level started to take effect in my old role and I thought I would get more satisfaction and fun in a new role. Not so much. Some stuff is fun, I have a great team who I work closely with. But other stuff in the corporate world has become very tiresome.

    This also came to a head with the realization of a different path being possible.

    And that is the path we will take.

    I will look back on the great times I had working and those times I enjoyed being “full on” in a job that made me happy, provided fulfillment.

    The rest can just slowly ebb away as it is quite unproductive to dwell on it.

    • Steve says:

      It’s funny – I went through a very, very similar process. I was working in very technical roles for the first, I don’t know…nine or so years of my career, then got the opportunity to work in a managerial role. It definitely wasn’t for me. I pity managers, I really do. ๐Ÿ™‚

      And it’s true, no sense on dwelling on it. Make the very best decision that you can and then move on. ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. I would certainly not work my job for free. Getting our financial act together and getting out from under consumer debt did allow me to shift gears a bit. When I lost my 20+ year job last year I was able to find a replacement that did not demand as much of my time or as long of a commute, all because we had some flexibility with our finances. I think that’s a a big key with a job, don’t let the job and it’s salary control you, be in control of it.

    • Steve says:

      Well said, Brian. When you’re a slave to salary you tend to make less glamorous or productive jobs just to make additional money. But when you’re more in control over what you truly want to do with your time, you can sacrifice money for happiness. That’s a situation I’d take any day!

  15. Shatter my heart into a million pieces, Steve! ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’ll remember my job. I, like many teachers, am defined in part by my work. But I totally understand how that’s the exception and probably not entirely healthy. No denying burnout and bureaucracy, though. But yes, I love my job. Trying to remember balance, though!

    • Steve says:

      Very cool, Penny! It’s true that balance is key, but loving what you do for a living is absolutely awesome. It makes the journey that much more enjoyable. ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. I’m with you — if someone loves their job, then awesome! Good for you for being one of the lucky ones! And I wouldn’t even try to persuade people to do something else — not everyone has an alternate vision for what their life could be, and that’s fine too if they’re happy in that circumstance. But there is literally NO DOWNSIDE to acting as if you might need to retire early. If that need never arises, then you can live an extra posh retirement or leave a bunch of money to your favorite cause when you die. But lots of people don’t get to decide when they want to retire — health problems, bad economic cycles and ageism take care of that for them — and it’s easy to get caught unprepared. We should all be saving as though we’ll retire early, whether or not we ever do.

    • Steve says:

      Bingo! There is no downside to acting like you’re going to retire in the next 2 or so years – by saving and spending very wisely. There’s definitely wisdom in pursuing financial independence even if you aren’t yet ready to retire early. It gives you options! ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. Jason says:

    As I have mentioned in previous comments I am one of the few people who do love their job. Everyday is different. I get to work with students, make a difference in their lives, get paid to travel (on the college’s dime), take students on international trips, publish books which is a trip, and in general be surrounded by supportive colleagues. I mean there are aspects of my job I dislike (e.g. grading, department meetings, assessment work) but going into the classroom and being able to talk and research about politics. What more could you ask for!

    What I want is financial independence. That is my goal and unfortunately I am a ways away on that. I probably have a good decade before that happens.

    What I would love to do is continue to do my job but be able to move back to where my wife and I are from to be near our families. Unfortunately, the kind of job I do you can’t just pick up and leave. But maybe someday.

    • Steve says:

      Sounds like a wonderful gig, Jason! And I think you have it right in your goal to achieve financial independence because that means you can up-and-leave whenever you want (or need). Things change, and having options is never a bad thing. ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. I’ve learned I work for a paycheck and a paycheck only. Been working from home for almost two months now and I miss NOTHING about having to go to the office. I still travel for work about once a month and that gives me enough social interaction with coworkers to get my fill. I get “gold stars” now and again, but those feel just as good as helping out a friend or family member with something and feeling appreciated. Once I don’t need the paycheck, the work will go away.

  19. Steven says:

    Thinking about work on nights and weekends is not fun. Actually working nights and weekends can be even less fun. Button-down shirts and ties, dress clothes, dealing with childish or lazy co-workers, incompetent managers, endless meetings, performance reviewsโ€ฆyou name it. Jobs.

    It’s crazy to me that so many jobs can be summed up in 2 or 3 sentences. Throw the word cubicle in their and you just hit another fun fact about most jobs. I don’t make enough, save the world, or rush in to work each day, so the feeling of having “this job” doesn’t have a great meaning to me. It’s stable and is getting me to my next destination, FI.

    • Steve says:

      Hehe, thanks Steven. I think that’s the right attitude in all this – your job, just like mine, is getting me to my next step in life, that’s it. Unfortunately, that is all that it will likely ever be.

  20. Jacq says:

    Having a job you enjoy is great! In the industry I’m in, through nothing you’ve (I’ve) done, corporate mergers, buy-outs, or decisions from Board of Directors can happen that mean you’re out of that job. The impermanence of it all, the uncertainty, has led me to the quest for FI. Because I save money, each time the ‘unexpected’ has happened, I’ve been ok until the next job. No need to panic, just roll over the 401k to my Vanguard rollover IRA, and get the resume back out there.
    My mom was a teacher, not retired, and I’ve often envied her summers. Being able to fully enjoy the sunshine, revel in a mid-afternoon thunderstorm, etc. I actually like this job rather a lot, but if I had the flexibility to work remotely – sit on the deck, gets stuff done, but be able to close the laptop & walk outside, no commute to chase fire flies, take a canoe ride a lunch….man life would be sweet!

    • Steve says:

      I’ll admit that working from home is absolutely amazing. I wasn’t sure how I was going to like it at first, but it would be real, real tough for me to willingly take an office job again. The time that we waste by working in an office is absolutely downright amazing. ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. I don’t like my job — no one likes working in customer service — but I love my boss. That and his generosity make it worthwhile. Perhaps more importantly, I may not love my job, but I love being able to earn a paycheck. After a few years on disability, most people would be pretty wed to the idea of being able to earn.

    I’ll work toward retirement, but our situation (one of us has always been on disability, $20k in student debt and tons of medical debt/expenses over the years) means we’re very far behind. We definitely won’t hit the early retirement mark. I may never be able to retire completely. And maybe that’ll be better. Retirement doesn’t look all *that* different from working (other than the occasional nasty customer) when you have chronic fatigue and work from home.

    But I’m definitely the exception. And for people who are worried about downtime in retirement… You can always start a side hustle. Maybe even doing what you do now.

  22. […] decisions and choose to give up their dreams. ย The love of their sport wins over all else. Steve at ThinkSaveRetire.com gives folks on the path to Financial Independence something to think about in terms of their […]

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