What is the difference between ‘work’ and a ‘job’? These two words are very similar, but they are not exactly the same. Basically, a job is something you do in exchange for money. Work has a broader meaning. It can be something you do on the job, but work also includes taking care of your family, fixing up the car, training for a race, or helping out at church. Personally, the subtle difference is the key to how I look at early retirement.
I retired from my engineering career in 2012 to become a stay-at-home dad/blogger. When I left my job, I considered myself retired. But I still had plenty of work to do. I took care of a toddler and worked on my blog. However, I had a lot of freedom to do them the way I choose. Well, being a stay-at-home dad was a job for the first few years, but it got much better later. Once RB40Jr started school, life improved tremendously. Now, I can do pretty much whatever I want. That’s early retirement to me.
So what’s the point? I’m sure you’ve heard this question before – what’s your dream job? It’s a common question from counselors and interviewers. I’m pretty sure most of us aren’t applying for their dream job. We just need money to pay the bills. Anyway, even a dream job comes with plenty of overhead (i.e., BS).
I was very lucky. I got my dream job right out of college and it was great for many years. However, the dream job became increasingly stressful as I got promoted. I had to take on more responsibilities with more seniority. Eventually, it turned into a nightmare and I couldn’t handle it anymore. I quit and I haven’t regretted that decision at all. Of course, I miss the paychecks, but we’re very comfortable financially now. The tradeoff wasn’t worth it because I achieved financial independence. I can live a comfortable lifestyle even without that job.
Dream Jobs circa 2012
You know what, I wrote about my dream jobs in 2012. It’s been 9 years so let’s go back and see if anything changes. Back then, the plan was to be a stay-at-home-dad until RB40Jr started school, and then I’d consider finding a job again. RB40Jr is now in 4th grade! He doesn’t need much supervision anymore. Is it time to go after these dream jobs? Do these old dream jobs from 2012 still sounds good? Or has something changed…
- Food truck/cart – I still think it would be fun to run a food cart for a few years. But only if I have a few good employees to do most of the work. Even then, it would be a lot of work. My friend just started a food cart and she is super busy all the time. It’s exhausting work. The only way I would do it is the cart generates really good income and I can work just 3-4 hours/day. Otherwise, it’s too much work. I’m not that passionate about it.
- Teach Yoga, Tai chi, meditation – This still sounds like fun to me. It’d be part time and I can help people feel better. Mrs. RB40’s cousin teaches yoga while studying for his degree in physical therapy, and seems to enjoy it. I don’t think I’m a good teacher, though. I’m too impatient.
- Foreign Service – We gave up on this dream. Mrs. RB40 went in for the oral interview and she didn’t get the position. She realized that her values and those of the interviewers didn’t align. I don’t want a boss, so this is out for me as well.
- An okonomiyaki restaurant – This would be way too much work for me. I still think an okonomiyaki restaurant would do very well in Portland. (After Covid subsided, of course.) It’d be a great place to hang out with friends and drink. Unfortunately, I don’t want to work that hard anymore. Running a restaurant is stressful and very time consuming. This kind of place requires a big initial investment with no guarantee of success.
- Run a small B&B or hostel in a nice tropical location – I still think this would be a great job. We can meet travelers and enjoy the nice tropical location.
I still think these jobs would be great, but I’m used to a relaxing lifestyle now. These jobs are a lot more structured than being a SAHD/blogger. Also, I don’t want to work that hard anymore. These days, I think the perfect amount of work is 10-15 hours per week. Any more than that and I’d have to really be passionate about the work.
I don’t ever want to go back to work full-time. Instead of a job, let’s try thinking about what kind of work we’d like to do.
Hence the question – what’s your ideal work? What would you like to work on if money isn’t an issue? You’d need to be able to do the work or acquire the skill to do so. I mean, it would be so fun to be an astronaut, but that’s unrealistic. I’ll go first.
- Blogging – I enjoy writing a blog post and interacting with the comments. Blogging is a lot of fun and I think everyone should have a blog. The problem with blogging is that it takes a lot of time. I used to blog 3 times per week, but I reduced it to 2 over the last few years. That’s pretty good for now, but I plan to work much less in a few years. Here is my tutorial on how to start a blog if you’re thinking about it.
- Coaching – Lately, I think that financial coaching would be a good way to give back. I’d like to coach poor families and immigrants who need help with money. They’re the ones that need help the most.
- Reading fun books – I love reading science fiction and fantasy books. I enjoyed the Expanse series and Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon Chronicle a lot. They are so good! I also like Mark Lawrence. His latest book is tying all the previous series together. I can’t wait for more. Is there a way to make money by reading books? Probably not. Maybe I should try writing some short stories.
- Small event planning – This is actually Mrs. RB40’s dream. She likes the idea of throwing small-scale events (wine or food tastings, themed dinners, or lectures, for example) and loves planning get-togethers at our home. With her regular job, though, she hasn’t had much time for this.
- (2021 addition) Neighborhood pet/house sitting – I think it’d be fun to meet local pets and get to know our neighbors more.
Hmm.. My current life is pretty close to my ideal work situation. I work 10-15 hours per week and spend the rest of time relaxing and taking care of things around the house. This isn’t full retirement, but it’s about as close as I’ll ever get. I enjoying being a little productive and I probably won’t ever stop working completely. Even after I stop blogging, I’d find something else to do. I like earning a bit of money every month.
Anyway, it’s interesting to see how my idea of work changes over time. Previously, I thought a dream job would be ideal, but now I prefer to work part-time on fun projects. Being self-employed is really nice, too. I can’t handle having a boss anymore.
Okay, it’s your turn. What’s your ideal work? Is it what you’re doing right now?
Passive income is the key to early retirement. This year, Joe is investing in commercial real estate with CrowdStreet. They have many projects across the USA so check them out!
Joe also highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. They have many useful tools that will help you reach financial independence.
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