You can love your job and still want to retire early // You can retire if you love your career, if you feel fulfilled by it, or any other good reason!we've learned

You Can Love Your Job and Still Want to Retire Early

The pre-emptive work nostalgia I’ve been feeling in our last year of work before early retirement has forced me to admit something to myself that I haven’t wanted to acknowledge for a long time now: I love my job.

That was hard to see last year, when I was working my face off and traveling almost constantly, just because I had no breathing room to realize it. Saying no more this year has made all the difference, and given me that perspective on why I feel so grateful to have gotten to spend my career doing what I do. There’s so much of it I’m awesome at, I feel good about the overall impact I make in the organization and with my clients, I love so many of the people I’m privileged to work for and with, it makes me feel relevant, and I will miss big pieces of it. I’m even realizing that I will miss all the travel, just not the 3:30 AM wake-up calls.

So… does that mean I’m hesitating about walking away from this job I love in a few short months?


Not one bit. Because I believe this fervently:

You can love your career and still want to retire early.

It’s definitely true for me, and there are a bunch of reasons why it could be true for anyone else. Let’s talk about why that is, and why walking away from something you enjoy isn’t as crazy as it might seem.

You can love your job and still want to retire early // You can retire if you love your career, if you feel fulfilled by it, or any other good reason!

As humans, we are bad at taking the long view of things. We overestimate the importance of recent history, especially our own recent history, and base a lot of our assumptions about what’s “right” on those overestimations.

“Careers,” for example. Careers are a super recent phenomenon for virtually all workers, dating back less than a century. A hundred years ago, a third of all Americans still lived on farms, women rarely worked outside the home (and couldn’t vote), and most of the workers who weren’t self-employed on the farm worked in manufacturing or others goods-producing industries in an hourly capacity. It’s only in the last half century at most that we see a shift toward the types of jobs that would constitute a “career” as we define that word today.

And yet, the notion of a career is extremely powerful in our minds. It seems foolish or even crazy to give up a successful one. It seems especially crazy to give up one that we might go so far as to say we love. But there’s no reason to get so attached to careers if we already have what they provide us with first and foremost — financial security — except that society tells us we’re supposed to. (And those of us pursuing early retirement already know that doing something because society says so is a lousy reason.)

Going back to Maslow’s (simplified) hierarchy, our needs in life are pretty straightforward:

Financial Freedom and Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs // Why you can love your job and still want to retire early

The only things we really need work or a career to provide for us are safety and physiological needs — the things like food, shelter and security that only money can buy. Work can provide belonging, it can provide self-esteem, and for the lucky few, it might also provide some self-actualization. But it doesn’t have to — we can get those things elsewhere. And if we save our money instead of spending it all, we don’t even need work to provide the basics for us for all that long.

Saying Goodbye to a Job or Career You Love

It’s hard to give up anything we love. It sucked hard when I had to give up gluten forever. I bawled my eyes out when my family sold our Chevy Citation when I was in kindergarten, because, um, change is hard? And if we’re talking real moments of loss — grandparents, friends, pets — those are almost too hard to talk about. (Though if you ever need to hire someone who you can be assured will cry at a funeral, I’ll be available starting in January. All major credit cards accepted.)

The difference between losing people and willingly giving up a career is that those people leave behind a void that we can never fill (and I will fight you if you assert the same isn’t true for beloved pets). It’s true loss. If your career is your one calling in life, that may also be true for you when you retire, but that’s not the case for most of us.

Most of us can be happy doing a number of different things, exploring different interests and developing different parts of ourselves. We don’t need careers to serve that purpose for us.


Why You’re Not Crazy If You’re Retiring Early from a Job or Career You Love

Though some of them may not be obvious, especially to those who’d purport to tell us what they’d do in our situations, there are still plenty of legit reasons why you could still want to walk away from your career, even if you love it. Here are a few:

Anyone who tells you you’re crazy is probably just jealous — I don’t like accusing others of being jealous, because we really can’t know anyone else’s thoughts or feelings. But there is plenty of research to tell us that most people do not love their jobs or careers. At most, a third of people love their jobs, but that’s old data from before the financial crisis. More recent data show only 13 percent of people like going to work. So if you do love your job — even if you don’t like going to work every day (hi!) — you’re already in the lucky minority. So the much larger majority of workers already have reason to be envious of you. And now you want to leave that job you love to do something else? Well you’re just looking a gift horse in the mouth! That reasoning might be sound, but it’s their reasoning, not yours. And you don’t have to make your decisions based on what will make other people feel good.

Our lives have several seasons — The reason I brought up the recency of careers in the first place is because we’ve quickly evolved to the notion that the career season of life should be our longest. Well guess what? There’s no evolutionary or historically-grounded reason that must be true, and we can think instead of our careers as one regular-sized season of life. Just like schooling is a season, and like the many things we do in early retirement and “traditional retirement” will be different seasons. What’s actually crazy is working a career forever when you feel like you’re “supposed to,” when that entire notion is only a few generations old.

Even a job you love could be keeping you from achieving self-actualization — Even a job that makes your heart sing, and which either fills you with purpose or lets you fulfill yours, is still only focused on one small slice of your full self. Letting go of that job might be what you need to find a fuller sense of self-actualization, or to pivot from focusing on one aspect of self-actualization to another.

It gives someone else a chance — This one is underrated but hugely important. If you love your job, chances are good that someone else would love it, too. And maybe even that there is someone waiting patiently right now to have their chance. What if, instead of thinking of work as a lifetime appointment, we thought of it as something we took our turn at and then let the next person have their turn?

You can still use those same skills if you wish to — If you love that you are a mentor at work, there are a million ways you can mentor in your community. If you love problem solving, there are endless ways you can do that, too. Whatever it is you feel good at in your job, it’s all replicable in your post-career life.

You might not always love that job — My wish for everyone who loves what they do is that they may always love it, and that the work loves them back. But there’s a chance that won’t be true for a lot of people. Expectations around work and productivity have sped up dramatically in the last 30 years, and there’s no reason to think that trend will abate. Employers will continue to be pressured by shareholders, funders and taxpayers to do more with less, and that will mean more pressure on everyone drawing a paycheck. A job with enjoyable work can get hard to love quickly if the work culture or work conditions are unsustainable. Far better to have a shorter, more positive career and then move on then to be forced to stay in a job well beyond when the enjoyment ceases because of increased pressure and belt tightening.

Why Else Might You Leave a Great Job?

Let us know — what are your reasons for leaving a great career, whether you love it or not? Any other reasons why a person in a wonderful job they enjoy might still want to walk away? Disagree with any of the reasons I listed here? Let’s chat about all if it in the comments!



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106 replies »

  1. I loved publishing but left for exactly that reason – jobs in the field are becoming untenable in every aspect. I’m super productive, I like keeping busy and getting shit done, but I’m not a robot. You cannot be 100% all of the time – that’s unsustainable.

    • So true. And that is fundamentally our issue as well. We can love our work, but still see that it’s too much and it’s taking a serious toll on us.

  2. I love my career and actually wrote about this topic on my blog a little while ago. And even though I love my job and career, I’m still pursuing financial independence and planning on quitting my 9-5.

    The main reason is that life is simply too short. There’s so much else I want to experience and to try that as much as I love what I do, I don’t want to have to be chained to my desk at 65 – when I might no longer love what I do. I also have the option of doing pro-bono work in my field when achieve FI, which means I can still do all the fun parts of the job without the crappy parts!

    • That’s awesome that you’ll have the pro bono option! So you can always stay connected to your work, even if you wish to move on to the next season of your life and new interests! What a great thing.

  3. I also love my job (mostly). It has its moments, but I wouldn’t change it. There a many worse things to be doing. However, I can’t wait to be fi. I think it’s the freedom to set my own schedule. The constant pressure to get more done at work continues to create high stress. Like most people, it’s quickly becoming unsustainable. I have about five more years until I can walk away; I can’t wait!

    • It’s wonderful that you can recognize you love your job in spite of the pressure-filled aspects. It’s easy to group them and just conclude that we hate the work because the pressure is detrimental, but one doesn’t depend on the other. Also, I know five years feels like a long time, but you’re in a way better position to breeze through it if you love what you’re doing (or at least most of it!). ;-)

      • I have about 5 years, too. My problem is how to stay motivated! I like my job…..but find myself completely obsessed with retirement. And seriously sad on Sundays thinking about facing another Mon. Any advice?

  4. I think our society is good at finding jobs and being productions, because that’s what we’re expected to do, but less good at finding meaning and purpose without jobs (as a whole). Even so, there are lots of retirees I know who have the equivalent of full-time careers in volunteering and are very fulfilled. They also travel and visit their families whenever they want. That’s the part I’m looking forward to–the time freedom. And I bet no more 3:30 wakeup calls is sounding sweeter and sweeter to you!

    • Oh, I totally agree! I’d even say we don’t focus on meaning and purpose enough at all, in any setting including work. So yeah, we’re definitely all missing those narratives about how to live a fulfilling life without work, or at least without traditional work. But yeah, you’re right about those early wake-up calls on travel days! ;-)

  5. I can certainly how it is possible to love your career/job and retire early, but it feels like it would be the exception vs. the rule.

    If one loves his/her life for 8 hours a day, he/she is potentially giving that up for an an unknown. What if the person can’t find the same fulfillment or purpose in retirement? I imagine it’s hard to move up from the love on the scale. I’d think you’d have to be fairly certain what’s next and be sure you love that too.

    I picture a Venn diagram of people who love their job, but love the next thing more. That intersection is probably very small. I can see jealousy being part of the reason they’d think you might be crazy, but I’m not sure it is necessary the main driver.

    It could be that they think you are crazy for giving up a bird in the hand for a bird in the bush (intentionally not two birds because “love” is “love”)

    • I think it comes down to a question of whether you can love more than one thing. Some people are super focused unitaskers and would struggle to transition, but most of us don’t have that focus. I’ve always struggled to narrow down my interests to a manageable number, so I think it will be pretty easy to transition to the next thing (easy being relative of course, and this is based on having a pretty clear vision of what’s next, which not everyone has). And I think your point about giving up a bird in the hand is a totally good one — and if we were in a position where we still needed the money, that would be a totally valid critique (although also one that keeps people from taking the leap to entrepreneurship). Fortunately, we will soon be separated from that need.

  6. That link you have for women starts in 1948, not 100 years ago. Women’s labor force participation is more complicated than just an upward trend. Similarly your source for the manufacturing statement starts in 1950. If careers were truly a modern phenomenon we wouldn’t have so many people with the last name Smith. The second industrial revolution changed a lot of things, as did WWII.

    • I obviously had to short-hand some things here, and was looking more at a point-in-time assessment to show that nothing about our current work culture is “traditional” or the way things “are.” It’s all been an evolution with many forces acting over many years, and the labor trends we witness now are simply that: current trends. What else would you change about what I wrote?

      • Mainly I just would make sure that the links cited supported the things said. If you said post-WWII it would have been accurate.

        *labor economist with an interest in economic history

      • I will check back — most of the data I was citing was lower down in the docs, not the first stuff cited. And I find that most people don’t click those links anyway, so there’s not a strong incentive to be detailed in those citations. ;-)

      • Okay… but then you’re saying something that isn’t necessarily true as if it is true whether or not you link to the citation. When I first saw your statement, I wondered, where is this coming from? Then I clicked on the link and was reassured that no, my knowledge of the US labor market over time is not incorrect. You’re talking about the (white) post-WWII US labor market which is an entirely different animal than pre-.

      • Okay, now I’m confused. ;-) So is it not true that a third of people worked on farms a hundred years ago, women had low labor market participation outside the home (pre-WWII) and that manufacturing and other goods production was the primary non-farm employment? I am happy to fix it, I’m just not clear on what you’re saying I should have written instead.

  7. I don’t love my career, I love my work and that’s something that I can easily do after I’m retired.
    Retirement will just take care of all the other things I don’t like, for example boring meetings, impossible deadlines and annoying managers. All of these things are part of a career, but they are not part of “the work”. They are part of the organization of “the work” and the bureaucracy of work. Those things I will never miss.

    • Totally true. Or as I’ve called it before, that extra stuff is part of the “work culture,” not the work itself. It’s great you can separate them in your mind and aim for a path that lets you do the work without all the rest.

  8. I like the work I do, as I’ve been doing it for the last 18 years, but the main reason I’m pursuing FIRE is uncertainty. Could I work in this field until traditional retirement age? Sure. Will I be able do, due to possible health problems, any care my parents may require in the future, etc.? Most likely, no.

    FIRE simply gives me the option of walking away if I need/want to at a certain point in time. It’s entirely possible that I’ll change my mind and continue to stay in the workforce if I don’t have other factors pulling me away.

    My health and loved ones are the most important things and would definitely be the driving factors in me walking away from my career. FIRE allows me to do that and still ensure that I’ll be taken care of without a paycheck from an employer.

    • That’s a great reason to think ahead and plan for your exit! And tons of careers are going into obsolescence now, so none of us can assume we can do a job for many decades more, necessarily. Whether you ultimately walk away early is your call, but what a luxury to have that option!

  9. I think you need to get out and hike some more. You have resorted to posting pictures of power lines.

    Just think, the end is near. Enjoy!

    • Hahahahaha — Not a fan of the that one, huh? I kind of love the mix of the abstract cloud shapes and the geometric power line towers. ;-)

  10. Love my job (teaching). In fact, I often worry that I won’t be able or want to leave it.

    Even so, here’s my odd reason as to why I push for FI ~ fear. Fear for loved ones stability. Fear for unforeseen health issues. Etc.

    Man, I’m a downer. Well . . . it’s true. I should probably get over all of my worry! ;) lol.

    • I think it’s hard to maintain long-term motivation around fear, but it sure can be a great reason to start! And I applaud you heartily for thinking ahead for the sake of your loved ones!

  11. I agree, for the first five years here, I liked my job due to little stress and had intentions of putting in a few more years for good measure. However, the last year has been stressful and that has really lead me to the ER finish line quicker than I initially anticipated.

    Plus, our forecasts have always been conservative. My ER forecasts never included additional future contributions for example, even though last year we contributed 47k to pre and post tax investment accounts (not including 3.5k 401k match).

    Therefore, the only considerations I had about leaving a job I definitely didn’t like anymore (can’t say I ever loved my job, but there are small aspects of it, like traveling and boozing on the company dime on the road I really enjoyed), were do I look for another job, retire early, and how do I do it?

    I chose the ask for severance path. Basically, the path never taken. It worked out for me and I am happy with the compromise (I end my job earlier than I had anticipated, age 41) and still get paid 40k or so gross beyond that. Had I liked or loved my job still, I would have slow walked my early retirement. It will definitely be time for a mimosa on July 5th.

    • It’s awesome that you’re so close. It’s interesting to ask the question of what would have been different had you loved your job. Loving our jobs has definitely NOT slowed our progress — if anything, we just blocked out the fact that we love them. Haha. But I know everyone is different.

  12. So, I don’t hate my job, and if I could be successful and do it 1-2 hours a day, I would think about trying to make that work. But I don’t think that is possible since one of the important success drivers is being responsive by phone and email. And I think that being attached to my phone and laptop is not healthy for me anymore. You know what else? Sometimes I think that my ego is too tied up into this. I’ve had a long and good run at this gig and good self-esteem but I wonder will I be as confident without all that external gratification? I don’t know. But I do think it will be important to explore my identity and figure out who I am without all that job stuff. I don’t even quite know how to put it into words. I like to think that I never got caught up with fancy titles or defining myself a certain way but I don’t think there is any way to work for 22 years without that seeping in.

    • I can totally relate to this. My job itself is wonderful, and my biggest complaint really is having to be reachable around the clock. Like when a few weeks ago I said I can’t wait not to keep my phone next to the bed, and a bunch of folks said “Just do that now!” Which makes sense as advice, but that’s just not possible right now — you understand. And the confidence that comes from it all, that’s a tricky subject too. I think it’s good you’re thinking about this stuff in advance of walking away, so you won’t be blind-sided by it later.

      • I know you will pay attention to your blog but you can do it on your own time, and you’re allowed to have boundaries and define and redefine them any way you please. I will attempt to go cold turkey so that I break the addiction myself and start anew. I find that my I obsessive email/text message/Voicemail message and return phone calls spilled over to my personal life. Somehow I’m not as OCD about social media – mostly when I’m bored and conference calls. The rest – I think the solution may be a little trickier and involve redefining my identity, even though I *think* I don’t define myself from my work. Basically I’m publicly calling BS on myself. :)

      • And kudos to you for doing that! Research shows that we’re all pretty bad at assessing ourselves honestly, so major high fives for being willing to call yourself out! ;-) I definitely won’t neglect the blog, but I am aiming to break some of my bad phone habits and endless checking in. It will be interesting to see how that goes without being able to go cold turkey. I’ll probably do some offline stretches, though, just to detox!

  13. You’re very fortunate to have jobs that you love! I don’t think I’ve ever had a job I’ve loved–I’ve always viewed jobs as means to an end instead of how I derive my own happiness. But there’s nothing wrong with loving your job and pursuing other things with your time. :)

    • Oh, we know! Although we probably wouldn’t have stayed in them so long if we didn’t at least mostly love them. The flipside is that employers can take advantage of this, too — expecting the love to provide some of your compensation, instead of the clearer value proposition of deriving all of the value from the paycheck. So it cuts both ways!

  14. 100% agree with this post. I too love my job (or many parts of it, at least), but the fact is I love a lot of things even more. And now having spent the better part of a decade working really hard and sinking a ton of my time and emotional energy into my career, I think it’s time to right the balance and spend more time on personal interests, family, and travel. I think that for many of the people I talk to who don’t really “get” early retirement, it’s because they can’t immediately envision a life without the default structure a job provides — they don’t know how they’d go about their day without an office to go to, for example. And when all your friends are tied to the same slavish schedule, it makes it even harder to imagine. Hopefully as more of us take the leap and go down this unconventional path, the FIRE concept will become less weird and more goal-worthy to those in the mainstream.

    • Yeah, structure is a tough issue, and clearly a lot of people need that — which isn’t a bad thing! But I don’t think they assume you can create your own structure instead of having it imposed on you, which is a bit short-sighted.

  15. I battle with the “but I love my job” vs early retirement question all the time. I absolutely love what I do, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t parts of my job that I could do without. I feel that I will always be doing my job in some capacity, but reaching financial independence will free up the boundaries and provide flexibility. I will open new doors and opportunity so I can really do what my heart pleases and not just what has to be done.

    • That’s a great way to look at it — for you it’s not about walking away, but just about defining your own terms. A totally legit reason to pursue early retirement!

  16. I do love my career, and I plan on working it until 55. But.. I have many hobbies I also love. So I will someday leave my career to do those things for some time as well. Even if you love your career it may not be your only love. Leaving it gives you the opportunity to also enjoy those other things.

    • Well said: You might love your career but it might not be your only love. When it comes to spending our time, we don’t necessarily have to be monogamous. Hahahaha

    • What about the hobbies you would develop if you’re life wasn’t dominated by your 40 hour plus day job? When I was 25 years old and got laid off, I decided to take 3 months off before going back to work and those were some of the most deep thinking times of my life. When you step away from full time employment, your mind becomes really creative like you never imagined possible, IMO. Can’t wait to do it again, this time infinitely, at 41.

      • I agree, though everyone weighs this stuff differently. I can see why some folks would want to keep devoting their time to work, while we can’t WAIT to think about other stuff, even if it means giving up careers we love.

  17. I always find your posts very insightful.

    I think it is important to realize that loving your job has many facets. From the work to the actual people you work with, there can be many variabilities in a job that can drive someone to love it or hate it.

    I love my job, but hate my boss. This type of conflict at work definitely makes me want to be financially independent (not so much retire early).

    Anyways, great post!

    • Hey thanks! And soooo true. A job isn’t a monolithic thing. Fortunately, your boss could potentially change, so it’s good you don’t let that define the entire thing for you!

  18. Yep, I’m in a pretty sweet position with loving my job, and even most of the work associated with it. Not a fan of the bureaucracy, and size of the organization, but that’s all pretty trivial when you get down to my day to day work and people I work with. I still want to walk away from it sooner than later though.

    Not out of a feeling that it’s soul sucking, but like others mentioned, I have other things I’d rather be doing. Especially during the last few weeks with the weather being amazing, the humidity low, and the oven of Summer hasn’t turned on yet. I look longingly out my window a lot of days thinking, I’d rather be on the water, or playing banjo, or doing something else.

    Until the time comes that I have the freedom to do that, I’ll keep working here, enjoying the challenges, mental and social stimulation, and the paychecks that show up every 2 weeks. :)

    • I think that’s totally sound reasoning. Even if you love something like crazy, you’ve already done that thing, and could legitimately want to do something else!

  19. I’d keep it civil and keep the door open at work. If you really love your work, you probably won’t be satisfied with early retirement. See if they’ll let you take a sabbatical year instead. That way, you have more options. I’m with Lazy man, if you love your work, it’s going to be hard to replace that. I’m sure you’ll be fine, though. You can always go back to work if it doesn’t work out. Enjoy your last year at work!

    • I totally disagree on being satisfied with ER. ;-) I have loved other things in my life, too, and was always okay leaving them behind so long as I moved on to something else I also loved. (I have a high capacity for loving many things, apparently!) Of course, if I didn’t have a clear vision of a whole bunch of things I want to do next, it could be different. But either way, it’s great advice not to burn bridges — I’d give that same advice even to folks who don’t love what they do!

  20. As I work harder toward an exit, I am starting to, as expected, like my job more. But bottom line for me wanting to leave the confines of ‘8 to 5’ : Freedom. Only 15 vacation days a year. Having to work during good weather and weekend during bad weather. I would love freedom.

    • I don’t think “as expected” is universally true! I have seen a ton of FIRE aspirants (ourselves included) who start seeing work as a barrier between them and the life they want to live, and they lose perspective, stop being grateful or — worse — get bitter about having to work. So it’s great you’re enjoying it more along the way!

  21. I really like this: What if, instead of thinking of work as a lifetime appointment, we thought of it as something we took our turn at and then let the next person have their turn?

    • Yes, I think this aspect is often ignored when people talk about how they love their jobs and can’t imagine quitting… while members of the next generation sit around wishing for an opening so they can move up :)

      • We’ve all had that experience of waiting our turn — but then many people miraculously forget how that felt when they achieve a certain level. We need to remember that feeling instead and get out of the way as soon as we can!

  22. Retirement at ALL is a nearly foreign concept in my family. Up til now, you worked til you couldn’t anymore, and then you help take care of grandkids. One grandmother worked the farm until she was nearly 90 and I think she really only stopped because her health declined very rapidly after that. But because it wasn’t a choice before, I think it was easier for me to think of having a career, and then choosing to step away from it, as choices that are natural to make based on your circumstances. PiC was a little less willing to immediately make the jump but after sitting with the idea of early retirement for a few months, he came to me later and said he was on board with whatever I wanted to make happen. Even though we’re both great at our jobs and enjoy them, there are so many more things we want to do in life, meaningful things, that we’re not seeing it as a sacrifice to move away from the career phase and into a new phase where we do what matters most to us.

    • I completely love how you put it: there are so many more meaningful things we can all do in life, in addition to having careers that we love. And it’s an incredible privilege to have the space to pursue those other meaningful things. I’m so glad for you that you were able to get your partner onboard. ;-)

  23. Love this. If you decide to retire early (which you are), I would not burn the bridge with your employer. Better to keep the door open just so you have a future option. :)

    • Oh, totally agree! I know many people dream of sending some big kiss-off letter telling their employer every little thing they’ve hated about their work, but that is pretty much the worst idea ever. ;-) Keep things positive, let them know how grateful you’ve been for the opportunity (this would be genuine in our case!), and keep that door wide open for the future, just in case. :-D

  24. I’m in the fortuned that I love my job as well. The reason to pursue FI(RE) was above all because I simply didn’t want to work until I reached the age of 71. Then the urge to become FI even sooner became stronger and stronger. Mostly because my job is also very demanding and I would like to have more time on hands to do other things as well.

    Ultimately the goal is to have total freedom, although you could argue about what ‘working’ entails, as you also wrote in earlier posts.

    • Whether you call it “freedom” or something else, the idea is still a solid one! ;-) Even the best jobs can still be too demanding to do for decades without our health or sanity paying the price. I applaud you for being willing to move on from a job you love!

  25. Seriously true. One need not *hate their job* to want to retire early, or at the very least achieve financial independence. I think the point that hits home the hardest with me is the fact that you may not always like your job. When that happens, what then? If you’re financially independent, you have choices. Choices are good. When things get rough, calling it quits is no longer that much of a risk.

    • I think this fickle nature of loving a job and the realization that you might not be able to keep your job, even if you love it (likely because of factors outside your control), are strong motivators for FI.

    • Yeah, totally. That’s one I don’t hear people who love their jobs acknowledge often enough. Tons of things can (and do!) change that impact how likeable a job is, and virtually all of that stuff is beyond our control. Would you rather be ready to leave if you need to, or stuck working in a job you no longer love because you assume you’d always love it? (Rhetorical question… I know your answer.) ;-)

  26. I love your posts but sometimes wonder if you are trying to convince us or yourself! I think the best reason to keep a job or career or relationship, or decide to leave, is because doing so is staying true to yourself and not just meeting someone else’s expectations.

    I like reaching for FIRE because it gives me options to pivot in ways I can’t even imagine wanting now. Reach for the moon and you might make it over the fence as my daddy used to say.

    • I assume they’re trying to convince themselves mostly and that they’re using writing as an outlet for that ;) I’ve really enjoyed some of their thoughtful posts this year as I struggle with whether I should look for a new tech job when I finish my MS later this year or if I should explore something else.

      • Hilarious! We need zero convincing to leave our jobs. .;-) But in general, this blog is for sure a way to process our thoughts and feelings on stuff. Just not in this case. Hahaha.

    • Totally guilty as charged, just not in this case. ;-) I’m fully aware of what I’ll be losing when we quit, and I remain 100% committed to doing it anyway. And I think you’re soooo smart to be thinking ahead like that — none of us can know what the future holds, but there’s no downside to preparing ourselves for anything!

  27. Yep! I like what I do and I like the people I work with. I just don’t want to have an obligation to put in 40 hours a week ~anywhere~ (and my 40 sounds like a cakewalk compared to your crazy working hours, Ms. ONL!).

    • No need to compare — 40 hours a week in most fast-paced jobs today is still a LOT. And the pressure will only get worse. Better to be prepared to jump ship if you should need to!

  28. As my plan to go part-time (and rumors that I may actually retire) have circulated, I’ve begun to field questions as to why. My simple answer is that I like what I do, and like working with all of you, but I like my days off even more. It’s that simple, and people seem to get that.

    “It gives someone else a chance.” This is absolutely true in many positions, including mine. I won’t leave without a succession plan, and vacating my spot will make one anesthesiologist and his or her family quite happy.


    • I am working on a theory as to why people in certain high pressure fields are more immediately accepting of the early retirement logic. My few colleagues who know got it instantly, and didn’t ask that “what will you do with your time?!” question. And the idea of making room for someone else is something we’ve thought about for a while but for no good reason never written here. It’s one we wish more people would discuss! (And hooray for the anesthesiologist and family you’re soon to delight!) ;-)

  29. I’m right there with you — a leaky faucet at funerals. And weddings, graduations, kindergarten performances, Hallmark commercials. Dang empathy!!!

    • I love hearing from other waterworks. ;-) I was on a plane this morning that got a water cannon salute from the local fire department for a Make a Wish kid on board, and I nearly lost it. So yeah, hair trigger criers unite. :-D

  30. If you love your’s not exactly work..or so they say. I wouldn’t know as I do not fall into that category. But I am a mom and I do love that..and I don’t consider it work…it’s just underpaid! :) My husband loves the idea of retiring early..we shall see.

    • Haha, yeah, “or so they say.” ;-) It’s still work if you wouldn’t do it without the paycheck, right? And you are absolutely underpaid — you have one of the hardest jobs! I hope you feel compensated in others ways. ;-)

  31. Greetings! Great post as always – really enjoy reading up on your financial advice and how you made retiring early work so well for you. I can definitely the struggle that can occur when you love the job you have but also want to retire. It’s a big trade off to make and I hope yours will pay off well!

    I was wondering if you ever considered Housesitting as a means for travel and income. It is a low-maintenance job and has the benefit of free accommodation. Housesitters have the chance to experience a different lifestyle in a new location. I recommend visiting a website like to view opportunities for you!

    • Thanks, Cheryl! I appreciate you saying all of that! :-D We have for sure thought about housesitting, but it’s still a bit too soon for us to make any concrete plans for next year and beyond. It’s definitely on our radar, though!

  32. People not retiring have also prevented young folks from getting jobs. In one of my post-grad-school jobs that I worked for free because it was the only way to get experience at that point in the recession, there was a man well in to his 80s, with tremendous experience and knowledge, who was also working for free because he just did not want to stop doing the interesting thing. He refused to mentor anyone. And he was so good at his job that he could cover a significant work-load. I was so angry at the situation. He gobbled up all of the opportunity, but would not pass along any of his insight to younger folks.

    • How frustrating! And especially because he was working for free, so setting unfair/unsustainable expectations with the employer about what all of that output should cost. I do with more people would talk about how making way for others is a completely valid and important reason not to stay in our jobs forever, or at least not to work past a reasonable retirement age!

      • Okay, well you are strengthening my resolve to talk more about the importance of getting the heck out of the way once you have enough saved so that others can have their turn.

  33. Seems like I am part of the lucky percentage. And that does not mean I am a slave of my job.

    There are many reasons to work less or no more. When it would be possible, I would work half time.

    This year will be a first experiment with an extra month of holidays during the summer. Maybe the start of a great habbit. Even when there is an important financial impact and layering a possible career impact. First things first.

    • Ooh, I’m envious that you’re able to take an extra month off this summer! How wonderful! We have said many times that if a month off each winter and summer would have been possible, we wouldn’t feel the need to leave our jobs. But that is just not how employers are wired to think, at least in the States. That is terrific that you’re finding ways to make more time for yourself and family without having to walk away entirely!

  34. I cried when I read this because it so closely reflects what I’m feeling now. I have a job that I’m great at, that pays well and is in an exciting creative field. But the long hours are so draining that I began to resent work. I’m very close to being able to FIRE full time, but for now I’m working part time and trying to sell my coworkers on the idea of job sharing. I’m so loving part time work right now because I have time to explore my other interests.

    • It’s nice to hear from you, as someone who understands what we’ve been feeling! And it’s a good reminder to others that not everyone pursuing FIRE hates working. ;-) That’s awesome you’ve been able to do part-time work — if that was an option for us, we would have seriously considered it!

      • Thank you for the reply! I also loved what you said about season’s of life. 10 years may seem like a short career to most, but it is still an incredibly long time and I feel like I must have a “next life” in me doing something totally different (right now, I’m pursuing art, music, and food justice community project with my free time). Also, the stuff about jealousy! I’m so, so fortunate already and now I’m just asking for more free time and options? Hardly seems fair, when you think of what so many people have to contend with just to survive.

      • All true, but that doesn’t mean you’re wrong to want something different. So long as you stay grounded in the reality of how lucky you are to be able to pursue an alternate path, and stay grateful, it’s all good. ;-)

  35. Problem is, too much of even a good thing can become a drag. And work has definitely deteriorated over the years. The enjoyable parts shrank too much, while overload, bureaucracy and fighting fires consumes too much. So not so disappointed when my last (awful) company laid me off. And not so eager to jump back in. Luckily, I was able to FIRE myself. But even my “good” jobs had many downsides. And those downsides expanded over the years.

  36. As they say “if you love your job you will never work a day in your life” and this has certainly been true for me. Since becoming a full time financial blogger I’ve been very fortunate to ‘be my on boss’ which has been great but I do miss the guaranteed monthly paycheck.

    • Well you are one of the lucky few! I think that saying can be mostly true, but I’ve never met anyone who liked EVERY aspect of their job. ;-) Not that that means we shouldn’t do it, because work is necessary for most people, but we shouldn’t create unrealistic expectations for folks that they must not love their job if it feels like work some of the time. ;-)

  37. I am considering an early retirement for a few reasond, love, peace of mind allowing me to focus on self and my ADD symptoms flowing into my day to day life.
    My God mom retired and teaches college courses on line. She is older than I but younger. She has more energy than me with part time work from home, yoga instructor & receiving DAILY radiation more peace than I. Only thing she more recently admits to missing is love. I’ve been a single mom for seven years both never remarried my x wants me to move to Arizona & live with him. I’m two yrs out from full retirement.

  38. Just discovered your blog. This article especially hit home with me. I hit FI several years ago, and I still love my job. I constantly get asked, “When are you going to retire?” I jokingly respond with, “I’m just one bad day away from retirement!” Thing is, that bad day never comes! I’ve always assumed that something would eventually come along and force the decision to retire: layoff, downsize, company restructure, medical issue, etc. None of those have happened or look likely to happen. So, the decision is all mine. Your article really struck a chord. After reading it, I feel like I have permission now to retire early even if I do still love my job! Well written!

    • So glad this one resonated! And you have permission (not that you need it!) to do BOTH. You can keep working even if you don’t need to, or you can retire even if you love your job. You’ve worked hard to save and give yourself options, and now you have them. ;-)

  39. Pretty good article. Indeed, you can like your job and still want to retire early, just to be free and to make your own money. Not depending on a boss is so satisfying…