Fantasy Job

What are you fantasising about these days? No, coming to think about it, I’d rather not know, but I find daydreaming is just as nice a pastime in retirement as it was in work.

When I was working, one of my regular fantasies used to be about Early Retirement. What would it be like? What would I do with my time? Would it be like one big holiday? What would I need to fund it? How would it affect my social life, my family relationships? Just how Awesome would it be?

Now I’m living the Early Retirement dream. Guess what? I now find myself fantasising about returning to work.

Not to my old career, of course. I’m done with that. Okay, that’s settled, but what would I like to do or be in a new working life? Unlike the accountant in the Monty Python sketch, I don’t want to be a lion tamer. I also really, really, really want to avoid anything that involves being stuck back in Big Corporate Life. The longer I’m out of that, the surer I am that I have done my time on the slippery pole of office politics. It was fun while it lasted, I tell myself, but goodbye to all that.

If not Big Corporate, what would I consider? One of the fantasy jobs I think quite a lot about is running my own business. No, strike that. What I fantasise about is running my own successful business. There’s a big difference. Of course, I have no idea what this might be, but that doesn’t stop me thinking about how it will make me a billionaire for a three day a week commitment.

Government(s) often boast about the small business culture that they have fostered in the UK. Since being made redundant aged in my fifties, I’m wondering how many people are forced down this route because they can’t seem to regain a foothold in corporate life? It’s a sad reality – and I speak from my own previous experience as an employer – that older candidates for certain jobs have a harder sell in an interview situation. I now also know this as a potential candiadate because, over the last year, I have gone along to the occasional interview, either directly with an employer or with the inevitable “Recruitment Consultant” who seems to need to meet with you face to face. Now I’m on the other side of the desk, being interviewed in my fifties, it’s really not a comfortable position. Would I employ an old, “seen it, done it” grouch like me? Fortunately, I’m Financially Independent and therefore generally couldn’t give a toss what way the interview goes. (Which is possibly why I’m not landing any corporate roles!)

Working for myself, however, seems a different proposition to working for someone else. If I can find something I really want to do, and I can do it at my choosing, that would seem the dream ticket. “Find a job you love and you’ll never work another day in your life”, as they say.

I feel that this notion is a tributary of the same flow that brought me to FIRE. I still want to get things done, contribute to the community, construct tangible targets and achieve them. The world of “work” offers loads of options and alternatives in this sphere and you might even get well paid for it. My current experience of voluntary work in the community hasn’t much floated my boat. It just doesn’t seem to have the edge and urgency that working for money once did. Perhaps that makes me a capitalist pig dog, but I suspect not. There is a dignity in labour, after all, and even more in well paid labour!

I’ve had a year to think about this and look into some ideas, but I’ve yet to strike the “Aha!” moment about the business I’d like to set up. Part of the trouble is that one or two of my ideas would have me potentially risking some of my investment funds, and I worked too hard to risk them on something I’m not fully committed to.

A decent halfway house then might be to work for a smaller, local business on a part time basis? Increasingly, I find this idea appealing and I’ve started to make an effort to see what might be out there and how I might be able to engage in it.

It does strike me that many people attracted to the idea of Early Retirement could very well find themselves with the same “problem” when they reach their non-working nirvanah. They may well be the type of people least suited to a “retirement” lifestyle. For many, achieving FIRE will mean working like a dog and saving like a bigger dog for years to get to their objective. You don’t have to read many FIRE blogs to realise this. These people have dreams and they work to make things happen. They have to be doing things, planning, scheming, plotting and mapping out their future. Money? Of course, but this will merely be a measuring stick to chart their progress, the majority of it banked until it reaches the point that it can facilitate their ambition. It seems to me that many FIRE aspirants need to be occupied and want to be master of their own destiny. They do not want or need a boss telling them which way is up or where to go next. This drive and restlessness means there will be no putting their feet up in retirement, or not for long anyway. They’ll quickly be seeking the next thing to do.

The more I read the blogs and experience Early Retirement myself, the more I come to the conclusion that “retirement” isn’t actually what many of us want. Sure, it’s a lovely fantasy when you’re stuck in a nine to five that you hate (or can barely tolerate) but we’re not the kind of people who are drifting through our lives, are we? No, we’re used to setting goals, and having dreams and ambitions that we actually and actively want to realise. What we are really fantasising about is being able to do what WE want when WE choose to do it. And, if we can generate an income from it, what’s not to like about that?

28 thoughts on “Fantasy Job

  1. The main thing that stops me pushing the button is I don’t know what I want to do instead. I’m no go-getter, I get rich by not spending, and want to emulate my father who spent 30 years in retirement pottering. If I don’t have focus perhaps I should aim for a portmanteau of things, outdoors conservation when its sunny, being a treasurer when its wet. Variety is good, but it doesn’t answer the cocktail party question,”what do you do?”. The internet is a great way for someone with great computer, but poor personal, skills to make a difference, but I’d not been inspired. I’m a company secretary, not CEO, so I need to find someone to be the right-hand-man for.


    • I don’t know, you seem to have formed some ideas of what you want to do. Nothing wrong with pottering about if it makes you happy. If you’ve reached enough to retire then you’ve had a plan, which is way more than the majority have had.


  2. Small companies pay small wages

    Part time wages per hour are much lower than full time wages per hour

    Simple facts from ONS

    Would suggest you only take a job that you would enjoy


    • Big companies pay big wages and take out a big part of your life. It’s only a fair deal as long as you can bare it. I did enjoy my job, but I didn’t enjoy having no time to do or think about much else. Eventually the need for time outweighed the need for the big pay packet.


  3. Very thought provoking post. I am spending a lot of time thinking how great it will be when I am away from work, but have a nagging doubt that it may end up being similar – just without the income.

    Thanks for sharing your perspective on this subject


  4. I just read Living a fi’s marathon 9 page post about getting therapy after he’d hit FI but couldn’t manage to take the next step out of his job. It’s well worth the read.


  5. eBay works for many here in the States. Some, like my sister, like to go to estate sales and scoop up items for cheap and then post them for sale at their leisure.

    Others (many new blogs on the topic) combine “reselling” with “miles and points collecting”—making a small profit but subsidizing travel. This is also done via eBay or can be through Amazon.

    Very little monetary outlay, as much time as you want to devote to it, the ability to dabble in marketing are all Pros. The big “con” for me is the need to good at details.


  6. Great post. I think I have had the exact same thought process. Been retired for ~2.5 years and whilst I am generally enjoying life, I find the urge to want to be more creative and contributory rather than consume all the time. I have looked for business ideas and whilst I am not wanting to be a billionaire business owner would like something profitable in both financial and use of time perspective. I think the problem maybe there are millions all over the world looking for creative business ideas and perhaps the truth is I am not ‘hungry enough’ for it.
    Maybe there is a business co-operative opportunity to tap into the creative skills of us ER’s looking to do something interesting (And profitably) for a small portion of our time.


    • The difference between those millions and a FIRE is the latter has the capital to fund their idea. But as most new enterprises fail I fear its a quick way to make a large pot a small one. As you say, you need passion to start an enterprise, and the willingness to work all hours for it. Its harder to set up a ‘I’ll do it when its raining’ business.

      Another key difference is that unlike the young, you don’t need to make the enterprise pay.

      I have considered fair weather gardening…


  7. Having been there and built a successful business (with partners), no way will I do anything like that in retirement. You can’t just do it when you feel like it, it’s incredibly stressful, the responsibility can be crushing, the admin and red-tape is boundless, clients drive you to distraction and the reality of having employees is about as awful as it gets.

    Only the driven and passionate (and lucky) can keep going when it gets really sticky – and it WILL get sticky.

    The sad fact is that the only people that fantasize about having their own business are those that haven’t done it!


    • Excellent reminder about the pitfalls of starting out on your own. It’s not “being negative” to talk about this stuff, and I for one think there’s far too much “be all you can be” guff out there that just leads people over a cliff.


  8. The cheap way to start your own thing is through a website. Good news, you already have one. Next step is to figure out how you turn it into something that generates money without taking too much commitment.
    But this is the best way to start a business without risking any funds, IMO


  9. Part of my description of FIRE is to choose if you work and where you work. I think I might be like you… Enjoy the no work for a certain time. But then there will come the moment where I want to be challenged, I want o contribute, be out there with others achieving things…

    So, I am very happy to have found you blog and your stories. It provides a lot of insight for my future FIRE state


    • I miss work on both a social front and a personal fulfilment front. I often used to think when I read ERE and Mr Money Moustache, “But I quite like my job!”. Yes, there were some bad days at the office, but being fully retired poses its own set of challenges too.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Hey Jim

    Reading your blog posts has gotten me thinking more and more about what I want to do once I no longer need/want to work full time.

    Throughout November and December, I was working 4-day weeks as I had to use up my holidays and I really liked having the extra day off to do what I wanted to do, so maybe I’d go down the part-time work route.

    One of my hobbies right now includes being a fundraiser for a football society. I run various fund-raising initiatives, eg lotteries, raffles, 100 Club etc. By ‘running’, it means that I track and update everything on spreadsheets (fun spreadsheets, unlike the ones at work!) but do have to contact members/participants so there’s a social aspect too. Due to time constraint, I do enough just to keep the things going so don’t help with any promotion etc. With more time on my hands, I’d be able to do more, perhaps help out with another society/club, be treasurer maybe as suggested by John B.

    I think to give my life a bit of structure post-work, I’d probably set myself ‘projects’, even if they are fun projects. This is assuming that I got my FI calculations right; if wrong, then projects would have to be income-generating.

    Good luck in discovering what it is that you want to ‘choose’ to do!


    • Many jobs (I think) could now easily be done in 4 days instead of 5. That would make a big difference to many people, including me when I was working. It wasn’t an option for myself, although I did have a few of my staff on 4 days, one of whom now swears he “could have done it in three”! If he agreed to be at least contactable on the 2 days “off”, I bet he could’ve too!


  11. I think the problem many aspirants to FIRE have is that almost by definition they are people in demanding well paid jobs. They have probably sacrificed a lot else in their lives to be successful and well paid – exactly what allows them to FIRE. The problem with this is that it creates a really sharp divide for them between working life and retirement. Busy as anything one moment and lots of time to fill the next.

    I know people who will never be able to FIRE as they earn to little for it to be feasible but maybe they have better balanced lives as a result. They work to live and so work doesn’t dominate their lives and they are able to foster and pursue out of work hobbies, interests and passions. If you have a life like that then FIRE becomes less important as you are enjoying life more.

    I am faced with this choice now to some degree. I have been working for the last ten or so years in a well paid but increasingly exhausting job. FIRE is a realistic goal but I would have to suffer 60 hour weeks for years to come doing a job I now find is grinding me down. It is not a bad job but the hours are just too long. Another option has now become available though – job sharing. I can split the job 50/50 with someone else and so work half the time for half the money (net pay is more than half as I drop down a tax bracket.) It would mean working 14 days on and 28 days off. I am minded to put FIRE on the back burner and enjoy life in the here and now.


    • Totally agree with your post, especially first paragraph. Job sharing – sounds like a good option to me. On the money front, I’ve been surprised by how little I have to spend on a day to day basis when not working. I’d really like to see more corporations being flexible about the nine to five, the Monday to Friday and the working options for people over fifty. Changes are happening, but slowly, and not in every business.


  12. As I looked into “to work or not to work” in early retirement, it really came down to what about work did I REALLY need to replace? The structure? The status/identity? The sense of achievement? The connection? The income? Being FIRE-d, it’s actually not about the income…unless you equate the income as a signal of achievement. For me it was structure, identity and connection. All those I can get without it being about “work”.

    That said, I am doing some small project work via a consulting group. I signed on, they get projects that might meet my skill set, and ask me if i’m “available” to do the work. I can say no without any ramifications… or yes, and there is a nice 20-40 hours of project work over the next few weeks…with wages. Not steady income, but a nice boost a couple of times a year (so far). I’m not sure if the UK has similar kinds of “encore consulting” groups or if your skill set matches their needs… but it’s no risk for you.


    • Hi Pat I’ve not heard of “encore consulting” but it sounds interesting. That’s not to say it doesn’t exist here in the UK. I’m sure there are quite a few “side earners” here in the UK – certainly Matched Betting and Kindle Publishing are two that I’m aware of (not everyone is keen on them either!) – and there are probably many more. I mean, I could take on part-time bar work in the evenings, or something like that. It’s trying to find what you want to do in terms of trading your time for money.


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