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  • Writer's pictureZachP

#77. Is "Work-Optional" The New "Retire Early"?

The more people I talk to about retirement, the more I hear, "I don't want to just set around doing nothing all day. I plan to work on something in retirement!"

Whether these people are referring to remaining in their typical 9 to 5 job or a side hustle, I do not know.

Either way, there are many folks who want to pursue the entrepreneurial route to build a side project that produces the same amount of income as their 9 to 5 job.

Once that point occurs, theoretically, they can become work-optional.


Work-optional is exactly how it sounds. It's when you have built up enough wealth or passive income sources that would give you the option to never work another day and still be financially okay.

Once someone reaches this stage, they could continue working, take some time off, or solely work on passion projects.

Calling It Work-Optional vs. Retirement

Using the phrase work-optional instead of retirement has a sort of psychological effect.

The biggest fear and critique of retiring at a young age is that people will be left extremely bored. Then, in turn, this boredom would lead to an unhappy and unfulfilled retirement.

However, if you just become work-optional, you are keeping all options on the table.

You could spend six months traveling across the country, learning a new language, and experiencing as much stuff as you wanted. Then, if boredom set in, you could get back to work on literally whatever you wanted.

Maybe write a book? Start a volunteer project? Pick up woodworking? Or, maybe, even go back to a steady 9 to 5 job.

Calling early retirement "work-optional" instead takes the pressure off yourself to live a specific lifestyle.

Going back to work out of boredom after you have told everyone you are "retired" will leave you feeling like a retirement failure. This stress is avoidable if you just tell people that you are "work-optional".

Our Path

Work-optional is our family's current path. We have no strong feelings to step away from the workforce entirely.

We just want to reach a point financially where we have the option. And we do not want that point to come when we reach the traditional retirement age.

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