Don’t lose the forest for the trees @RobinHODLers, A Satisfying Career Is the Real FIRE

Ikigai Network
3 min readAug 31, 2020

There has been something of a renaissance in personal finance for younger generations over the last few years. Fueled by the likes of Robinhood and Bitcoin investors in the US it has spread to Europe and Australia. It has also been accompanied by movements such as FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early), which encourages followers to save and invest aggressively so that they can be freed from the need to work for a salary as early as possible. It’s an interesting idea and can only be a good thing to encourage more people to save and invest.

However we see two main issues with focusing on “downstream” wealth creation (i.e. managing money rather than earning money) very early in a career:

  1. It is likely you are investing small absolute amounts — effort spent optimizing a small portfolio is not a good use of time

For this reason it is not efficient to spend too much time on investments in early adult life.

  • The counterargument is that compounding favours those who start as early as possible
  • My personal counterargument is that investing is fun

For anyone, who doesn’t particularly enjoy investing and has a relatively small amount of savings the most important thing is to just do something simple so you are laying the groundwork for compounding returns;

  • Set up an automated index investing strategy through your bank’s brokerage or an investing app like Raiz
  • The one thing worth watching out for when investing at this stage is fees as they can really hurt your outcomes at low dollar amounts
  • As your investments start to accumulate then it can be worth doing more research to better understand how to achieve more specific goals (whether that is optimizing for income, growth or protection against risk). There are some very professionally put together channels on YouTube that can help out here, check out something like New Money.

2. Focusing on escaping a career that has only just started may stop you from finding what you love and are good at — a good career is ultimately the best path to wealth generation

Work can be a grind. But it doesn’t have to be. At Ikigai Network, we believe that if you put effort into finding (i) what you are good at, (ii) what you love doing, (iii) what the world needs and (iv) what you can be paid for, there is a fulfilling career out there for everyone. The idea that you need to find a company and work your way up over several years is not conducive to the view that you need to test different options and discover what fits you. Our interviews highlight some people who knew instantly what they wanted to do (e.g. music, nursing) and are finding a path in that industry. We have also talked to people who had absolutely no idea what they wanted and have only found it by testing out several roles and companies while still in their 20s.

It is telling that one of the most successful wealth management startups in the US, Wealthfront, features a career advice whitepaper every year. Founder Andy Rachleff highlights that;

“You will earn far more money by managing your career well than by managing your investments well. The happiness you derive from your career may be nearly as important as the happiness you derive from the rest of your life.”

Perhaps TSLA goes from $2k to $7k or you HODL BTC and it goes up 5x. Or perhaps you go work at Tesla / one of the crypto exchanges, build the future and get paid far more every year for doing it.