For myself, the goal of financial independence is so that I am not beholden to an employer for my survival, not so that I don’t have to work. I actually like working quite a bit and I have a hard time imagining a life without doing something at least part-time. I also cannot see myself traveling full time indefinitely, that sounds very exhausting and potentially boring to me (ECA may disagree with this sentiment). There’s also no way that I would simply play games and watch TV all day either. I feel like my ideal life is one that is just a bit more balanced. I want to be able to work enough that I feel that I have a meaningful, creative impact on the world, but not so much that it ever becomes frustrating or tiring. Sometimes, that’s not an issue of the work itself, but simply how long I’m spending doing that work day in and day out. I want to look forward to the next time I get to go to work, rather than dread it. I want a lot of variety with what I’m doing. The problem is, I just don’t know how to do that with the way companies are set up. If I could work half the time at half the pay, I would do it in a heartbeat. Heck, I might even take 1/4 the pay if it truly meant half the time. And although I love being an engineer, I don’t foresee it allowing me to live this kind of life. So, this got me thinking about other jobs out there that I could do. Basically, what I want to be when I grow up!
Haunted House / Escape Room Designer / Actor
I don’t go very often because they’re a bit expensive and I don’t have very many friends who share my enthusiasm, but I’ve always loved these types of experiences. Even in high school, some friends and I had constructed our own small haunted house experience one for Halloween one year. The haunted house is the easier version, just walk through an area while people try to scare you, but escape room games generally are more about solving puzzles and collaborating to get through a series of trials. When I’ve done them, it’s been extremely fun just seeing how the puzzles were constructed and I often feel inspired by their design. I would love to design and build my own, but even if that’s not easy to achieve, when I have more time, I would love to at least be an actor in one.
Professional Dungeon Master (DM)
I’ve mentioned that I love playing video games, but I also love playing pen and paper RPGs. Being a player is always fun, but DMing is a rewarding experience (and I’ve been told I’m pretty OK at it). The main problem with Dungeons and Dragons and games in that style is finding people who are willing to take on this role and to me, this means that there is likely a niche market out there waiting for people to step up into. This is actually quite similar to the escape room experience except there’s nothing physically constructed. Instead, everything is in a book, or in the DM’s mind. If I were to go this route, I would host players and run the game. There’s a lot of prep time involved for the DM and the sessions themselves can be long, but if you get the right group, it can be awesome. I’m only a bit weary of doing something like this with a bunch of strangers since it’s such a fun thing to do with friends, but it’s been done before, so maybe this is up my alley.
Teacher / Tutor
I don’t plan to have children of my own, but it’s not that I don’t enjoy children. For me, other than being an uncle, the next best thing to do is to give some of my time as a teacher or tutor. Becoming a full-time teacher (with summers off) might work well for me, but there’s also opportunities to each after-school classes. This would be a great way to better the world and hopefully inspire kids to seek out fields in engineer, science, or math which I’m also pretty passionate about getting kids involved in.
Personal Financial Adviser
I’m generally a bit of an evangelist when it comes to how to manage money. I’m very open about it with friends and family and genuinely enjoy talking about personal finance because I think it’s important and can improve their lives greatly if I talk about it. I feel that doing this on a more professional level would fill the desire I have to legitimately help people and would be a great way to share my experience.
Zoo / Aquarium / Museum Volunteer
Well, maybe volunteer, maybe for gain. I’m a huge nerd in many subjects and one thing I always love when visiting a museum or zoo is running into someone working there who is knowledgeable and passionate about what I’m looking at. Unless I work at a museum dedicated to space, it’s a little outside of my expertise, but this seems to be an extremely fun job. Working at a zoo or an aquarium seems even more fun since you get to interact and care for animals.
I grew up camping quite a bit and it’s always a pretty enjoyable experience. One thing I’ve noticed in a lot of campgrounds we’ve visited around Seattle is that they have campground hosts who stay in an RV on-site. They take care of the grounds, enforce rules, collect payments, just generally run the campground. This could also be a ton of fun, I think.
Charter Boat Captain
ECA and I went to a boating event recently and had a great time. A lot of boat owners had their live-aboards open to the public and were just showing off their homes and businesses, which really struck me as something that would be a lot of fun to do. They live aboard their boats and charter trips aboard. They will take you around and to places you want to go see, maybe share meals, things like that. It’s really not that much different than hosting on Airbnb in my mind which is something I already do and generally enjoy and could make owning a large vessel a reasonable thing to do. The only problem, ECA and I both get seasick easily…
Who knows what I’ll end up doing. Maybe I’ll just keep working as an engineer, but there’s a lot of other things out there that interest me and I want to try to explore some of them. I think our plan is to take a 6 month sabbatical within the next 2 years and do some soul searching to see what we both really want to do. Maybe then I’ll narrow this down a little more!