How will you answer “What do you do?” in your post-FIRE life?

I have a tonne of things lined up for our post retirement lifestyle. I started two Google Keep lists months ago on my phone to jot down ideas when I am out and about – all to avoid the fear of being bored in our retirement.

 

I’ve been thinking about this a bit lately, as we get closer to our FIRE date of December 2020. Some of the FIRE folk can get very focused on the goal of FIRE and forget about the living between now and FIRE; as well as the living after FIRE.

I’ve noticed it in myself. When people ask me “what do you do?” I respond with my current job and it gives me a certain level of pride. I work in the public service. I work in the PM’s department, no less. I also noticed this tendency to define myself by my job when I was a lawyer. It came with a certain amount of unspoken kudos. In a way, I didn’t have to prove my intellect – my job title did it for me. To date, my role in the workplace has been doing some pretty heavy lifting, in terms of describing who I am. I’ve let my job title describe me for years.

Even in the two years leading up to our FIRE date, I am going to have to start redefining who I am, as I move to lower levels of responsibility in our transition out of the workforce phase. I won’t be leading a body of work – I will contributing to a body of work, of which someone else is leading. This will be a struggle for me – I’m an out-in-front-energising-the-people kind of a person.

Don’t get me wrong – the work stress combined with raising teenagers has been a bit of an overload, and I will be looking forward to less responsibility in the work place. But it leaves me struggling for words when people in future ask me “what do you do?”

Are we retirees? Feels like it will age us before our time. I will be 48 when we hit our FIRE date. Retirement in Australia is usually 65. When I have used this term lately people say I am too young to retire. Retirement conjures up images of endless afternoon teas, afternoon naps on the couch and the golf course lifestyle of the 65 and over. Are we travellers? We will only travel for a month or two in winter each year because my husband likes the routine of home. Vegetable growers? I guess but we will grow mainly in spring and summer. I guess I could resort to this shopping list style of describing what we do.

I could say I am financially independent – but I don’t think it provides enough detail about what being financially independent means. It could mean I am filthy rich or living on social welfare…

In some ways I would like to be a little bit provocative and challenge the status quo. When people ask me “what do you do?” I could say “well…… I don’t work”. But in a way I don’t want to leave the questioner feeling uncomfortable or inadequate. That kind of statement could shut down any conversation. Equally, it could open up a number of questions about why I don’t work. But as a community, even though FIRE awareness is growing, I think it’s still early days for the individuals and families to think about a post-work life, or even a life that doesn’t focus on getting up and working every day. People who know me know the plan; but for those that don’t, I imagine shutting down the “what do you do?” conversation will find people stumped for a follow up question.

I’m having a hard time settling on what the answer will look like. For now, I think I will say I am pursuing a number of projects like sustainability, travel and veggie gardening; as well as spending quality time with my family.

I think this will be a work in progress. How will you answer this question in your post FIRE life?

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