Years ago, I made a fairly bold declaration as a total newbie poking around the FIRE space. I said I wasn’t leaving my classroom, and I meant it. Now, wonderfully, more and more people are realizing that financial freedom doesn’t have to mean retiring early…or ever.
Even so, there is so much talk about the end of the journey and even of the start. It’s the in between that gets overlooked.
People disparage the idea of traditional work. If you don’t believe me, wait for the next Sunday night to roll around and take a good long look at any type of social media. Traditional work is on blast for all the world to see.
And yet, most of us still perform it in some capacity. Whether it’s long-term or short, the majority of us went to work today.
And that’s something to be proud of.
You don’t have to love your job. You don’t have to be someone who would continue to do your work if money were no object. I might love my current career, but that hasn’t always been the case.
As someone who has now been an employee longer than I haven’t been, I have completed dozens of iterations of work. Minimum wage to commission-based jobs. Part-time to full-time. Regularly scheduled 15-minute breaks to making the most of a 4 minute passing period. Good bosses to bad bosses. Fun colleagues to complete jerks.
I’ve fished nylons that did not belong to me out of an overflowing toilet.
I’ve raced my coworkers to a bank to see who could cash their paycheck before all the others bounced
I’ve also done makeovers in a mall parking lot with Tim Gunn in the blazing heat of 90-degree day while competing with all of my coworkers to make the most transactions without access to a sales register.
I know what it’s like to have a bad day at work. OK, fine. I know what it’s like to have a bad year at work.
It’s true that I know what it’s like to not love your job, and I also know the standard advice and all the variations of it:
- Stay quiet.
- Speak up.
- Work from home.
- Transfer internally.
- Transfer externally.
- Find a new boss.
- Become your own boss.
None of these are magic bullets. They don’t come with guarantees. And sometimes they aren’t even possible. At least not right away.
Whether your entire family counts on you or you only count on yourself, you might have to keep this job. At least for now. You could be the breadwinner, the sole provider. You might need to wait out a contract or rely on the healthcare.
And even if you change your work, that doesn’t change the fact that you still have work to do.
So I want to do something different here. I want to say there’s value in work, your work. Not just when the project is finished, the last grades are entered, or the manager gives the final approval. There’s value in what you’re doing today.
Maybe it’s your forever job, your calling, your life’s work. Or maybe it’s not. Perhaps you’ve cobbled together a series of part-time jobs or you simply snapped up the opportunity because you felt you didn’t have any other choice. You might be someone who is pushing hard for FIRE, with your eye on early retirement. Even if you do plan to leave the workforce, even if you don’t love your job, you deserve credit for doing it.
Whatever job you’re doing today, take pride in the fact that you showed up again. There’s so much value in the journey and so much that goes unsaid about the in-between. That’s where so much of our time is spent and where so much of our lives unfold. Instead of running into another week with your eye on the finish line–be it 35 or 75–, take a moment to appreciate what you’re doing right now. Not because your job is important, but because you are.
So Tell Me…What are you work are you doing today?
I feel this post so much!! Thanks for helping me celebrate the present moment!!
Thanks, GovWorker! That means a lot to me. Hope it’s a good day for you!
One Frugal Girl
First of all I am super bummed that I didn’t get a chance to meet you at Fincon this week! Second, I completely agree in the value of work. I started a post on this very topic, because I couldn’t believe how many times I heard people say they can’t wait to escape from their 9-to-5 jobs this week. One guy even told me I’m anti-FIRE because I believe so strongly in the value of traditional jobs. After talking to so many people about this topic I am more reinvigorated than ever to write about this. There are so many amazing paths on this financial journey. We shouldn’t limit or discourage any of them.
Yes, I think that’s my exact issue! Even if you do intend to leave work behind forever and for always AND you want to do it as quickly as possible, it’s a lot of time to not be content.
And I’m super bummed, too 🙁
Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life
Oh no! I needed you two to meet this FinCon! 🙁
Next year?! ::cries::
One Frugal Girl
It’s hard to find someone when you don’t know who you are looking for! 😉 I can’t imagine flying to CA and somehow I also can’t imagine not doing it. Revanche… will you come to FinCon if I fly out there for it, because that might just make me buy a ticket!
Angela @ Tread Lightly Retire Early
You know I am all here for this ❤️
::pats self on back:: Thanks, friend! <3
Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life
Even if I were 1000% about FIRE, I still don’t see why there’s such focus on disparaging the jobs and traditional work that is often vital in making the world work for all of us, traditional jobs or no. I’ve been working since I was 9. Sometimes I feel like I’m totally done, thanks very much, where do I check out? But I also know that all of this work has been about building the person I am today: character, skills, confidence, connections that I can use to help others, and a whole host of other benefits.
In moderation, work is good for us so what’s wrong with it being a traditional paycheck rather than a self made entrepreneurial path? Yes sure you won’t get rich that way but if you choose to trade lower risk for a stable paycheck, you don’t lack moral character. And stability, having searched for it so long, is not the small thing that privileged folks with good health and the good fortune to have their risks pay off rather than sink them make it out to be.
I’d be willing to stop traditional work if we were securely financially independent but I’m always going to remember the way I got here – traditional jobs mixed with a whole lot of independent thinking. There’s value anywhere you look for it, IMO.
“There’s value anywhere you look for it, IMO.” THIS, THIS, THIS!
Of course, we could and should all critique work and overwork. But when I see people practically apologizing for having to go to work, I want to slam my head on the keyboard. There is nothing wrong with supporting yourself and your family. It should be a source of pride!
Doris @ Your Financial Launchpad
I love this post. I’ve always believed that in order to make room for better or different in your life, if that’s what you seek, you need to start by being grateful for the blessings and lessons in today’s circumstances. Like you, I love what I do and I can’t imagine ever fully retiring, even during the crappy days!
Ed Mylett says, “Life happens for you, not to you. Make the most of it. ” There’s value in the not-so- great jobs for sure.
Love that quote, Doris!
I sometimes feel like an idiot for enjoying work and not being in a huge rush to retire. Also, having a baby also made me realize that I might have to work a lot longer. Ive been working since I was 14 in one capacity or another. Still supporting my mum and now providing for a growing family. Im working to make sure I dont make my son go through the things Ive had to. I feel blessed to have a good boss and while job growth has been mediocre I am happy to know that I have some amount of stability and flexibility. Thanks for this post today. It resonated with me.
I really enjoy my work, too. And something really interesting happened when I started thinking about my own son. Even if I really grind it out and just go 24/7 (assuming I don’t burn out and disintegrate), I’m still not going to have these itty bitty years with him. So why make myself miserable now? Instead, I’m going to allow myself to enjoy my work and prioritize my family. It might not be perfect, but it feels good enough right now.
Thank you so much for saying this! This is exactly where most people are.
Thank you so much for saying that, K! I’m glad I’m not the only person feeling like this.
I love this post so much. Maybe more than I love my job today (and I really, really love my job!).
It was one of those ominous Monday “meeting with the boss they don’t tell you what the agenda is in advance” kind of days. And what did I win? I was “rewarded” for the great job I’m doing with one program with the responsibility of a completely different program for the district!
I did have the presence of mind to remind the boss that when I ask for additional personnel for my one-woman department come budget time in a few months, he will kindly remember the uncomplaining way I accepted this uncompensated addition to my responsibilities. I feel like Educator FI would have been proud.
I agree that he would be proud. And I am, too!
The man I’m seeing was talking about this recently and prompted me to change my morning narrative from:
“I have to go to work this morning.”
“I get to go to work this morning.”
…..because there are a lot of people who want to go to work but can’t for a variety of reasons.
Wow! Thanks for sharing that, Jody. I love his idea about flipping the script!
We have to make to most of our situations. That’s why I kind of cringe whenever I hear the dreaded I don’t want to go back to work on Monday. We put ourselves in this situation, we just have to do our best of what’s in front of us. It would be better as a whole to say, ” Let’s get to work and get this done, that done and accomplish our daily goals for the day.” More people would appreciate their work more.
I find that when I have a really negative outlook, it makes it harder for me to enjoy my students and my coworkers. Relationships at work matter so much. If for no other reason, I try to stay positive for that!
Chris @ Mindful Explorer
As I shared in my recent post, “Very Little Is Needed To Make A Happy Life; It Is All Within Yourself In Your Way Of Thinking.”
― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
So be in the moment each day, make the most of what you are doing and be mindful on how you react to outside world around you. Wonderful post Penny.
Chris, this means so much to me. Thank you! And that Marcus dude is pretty smart 😉 😛
I was just piecing together a similar post in my mind this morning. After a really good morning, I thought about how much I often enjoy my job. Yes, there are moments I don’t love it, but it’s pretty good overall. Ideally, I’d just like to reduce my hours, not necessarily retire early. But then there are days I have moments where I’d like to quit! 😉
Oh, if you write the post, let me know! I’d love to read it!