Why Career, Sustainability, Minimalism and FI:RE?

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May 2020 Drew

There are lots of blogs out there on the world wide t’internet that cover one of these four subjects.  There are also a couple of them in the deepest corners that cover a couple of them together.  And there are none (that I can find) that look at three, never mind all four of these subjects.  So why I am trying to?  Because to some people it may seem a bit nuts. Here’s why…

Well, firstly it is four areas that interest me.  Secondly, they are four areas that have had a big impact on my life, and thirdly, I firmly believe it is four areas where you can truly act with purpose.  Which is kinda the premise of this blog, isn’t it?

My final point, and the reason I stuck to these four and didn’t add other, random, things I am interested in (like rugby league, scuba diving and mountain bikes), was because I think there is a strong relationship between the four.  Together they form a kind of “momentum loop” where increasing knowledge, understanding and action in the areas can lead to steps forward in other areas.  And as you keep going and taking more action, then its like a flywheel, building up momentum and purpose.  Working on one adds value to another, and vice versa.

My entirely made up, scribbled on an ipad, diagram of the loop is below;

Does that make sense to anyone but me?  Who knows!  Lets see if I can add a little colour to the picture.

FI:RE / Career

This is super simple at the highest level.  The “RE” of FI:RE is about retiring.  Now, you can take that as stopping work in a classical retirement fashion, or take it as downsizing your work which could be less hours or less responsibility (and therefore probably less pay, but less stress).  FI?  If you are financially independent then you are in the position to make that choice.  Reach the FI:RE goals and the choice of what you do in your career is yours, its not societies pressure or your bosses demands.   The back link is just as relevant.  Your career, work, devleopment or choices link directly to being able to achieve FI:RE, and this will change as both your career and FI:RE journey progress.

Career / Minimalism

Probably a less obvious link, not so direct as some of the others I describe.  But lets use a few outlier examples to show this.  The Minimalists.  Their career and work challenges led to a dissatisfaction that contributed to their journey in to minimalism, and then their choices or career.  The world is littered with people like this.  Their career does not dictate the “stuff” in their lives, but helps them to live their best life, aligned to the values.  Then their minimalism significantly helps them understand what they value, want to bring in and what to keep in their lives.  This in turn leads to different and more informed career choices. 

If you understand what adds value to your life, you understand where your career supports and enhances that.  Have a look at “My Milburn Moment” and you will see how I understood that I didn’t need my high paying job and it could change.  I knew that I didn’t need as much, and I knew that because I had taken action based on minimalism.

Minimalism / Sustainability

Dead simple.  If you have less “stuff”, you have a lower environmental impact and the opportunity for a more sustainable lifestyle.  If you want a lower environmental impact or more sustainable lifestyle, one of the very best ways to do that is to have less stuff.  Making stuff costs resources.  The link between these two is as simple as it gets to be honest, so I won’t waste your time!

Sustainability / FI:RE

Reducing your environmental impacts means you look at how you need and use less resources.  Less resources used should be a lower cost of living.  Lower cost of living helps you hit FI:RE.  And the entire opposite route.  While I am not a “frugality” person, I think acting with purpose in both these areas are intrinsically linked.

Circles & verticals. And horizontals

The links between the different parts of the circle work well.  Cause and effect and all that.  A bit ying and yang.  But there are other links if you want to make them. I think if you really wanted, you could draw lines between the horizontal and vertical relationships as well.  

FI:RE / Minimalism

I think there is a clear link between them, but not everyone will entirely agree.  As I mentioned before, and will write a separate post about to explain further, I am a devotee of FI:RE, but not of the frugality aspect of the FI:RE journey/community.  However, Minimalism is not necessarily about driving down to the minimum cost of living, it is about acting with purpose.  And that’s what FI:RE is, a supporting, purposeful action in your finances and life that is only enhanced by an understanding of the value things and people bring to your life, which is exactly where minimalism comes in.  I will explain how minimalism wins over frugality in a separate post.

Career / Sustainability

So this is an interesting one, and again I don’t draw a link because it’s a bit more inferred.  And this taught me a little about myself as writing the blog.  Originally “Sustainability” was actually “Environment”.  But writing this post and making this little model showed me that it was probably the wrong thing to take about.   For me, with my career choices, the sustainability is critical because its what I do.  But for most people it isn’t.  I would argue that it always should be a consideration.  Thinking about a career?  Well, if you choose something that won’t be there in 20 years, you may not get a career out of it.  You want to choose a career that aligns to your values and anchors (see other posts when I get them up!), but also one that you can embrace and enjoy for a long period.

So put all that simply,

  • If you are working towards your FI:RE goals, it can heavily influence your career and work choices.  
  • Your career choices can, and will, influence your approach to minimalism
  • Embracing minimalism will have a distinct environment and sustainability benefit.
  • Reducing your environmental impact and living more sustainably will reduce the resources you use, helping lower your cost of living and achieve FI:RE
  • The sustainability of an organisation and career affects your choice of work type and employer, shaping you work for the future.

So that’s it – the why and the what of the four things I am writing about.

And while working on it, a lesson for me that I should have used “sustainability” over “environment” in this blog!  Who knows, maybe I will change it……..oh wait……I did.  We all live and learn when we take purposeful action…….

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