LYWE, a better alternative to FIRE

I have been interested and closely following the "Financially Independent, Retire Early" (FIRE) movement thanks to influences of some friends and the passionate r/fire community. 

The FIRE approach recommends reducing spending and saving up aggressively so that you can retire in your ~40s with the investment returns from the money you saved. I fundamentally agree with the premise of getting out of the rat race and not sacrificing your precious life years to work that you don't enjoy. Freedom to not have to work in a job you don't like or in a tough situation sounds quite amazing. 

But I think the FIRE framing is problematic in a few ways:

  • The entire concept of retirement is defined around what not to do (work), rather than defining what you'd rather do with your life. Most people don't have a good answer to "What would you do if you never have to work again?" or "What kind of job would you actually enjoy doing?" Even those who do, have a pretty theoretical answer that isn't going to as satisfying as they imagine it will. 
  • There are many satisfying jobs with good managers, income and balance. FIRE framing makes people hate on the concept of working, rather than actually exploring jobs that they may like and defining what they'd rather do in life. 
  • Saving 25X expenses is only achievable only after 20+ years of working. It's better than the regular 30-40, but not that much better.  
  • If you are saving aggressively, you risk not experiencing many joys of life. I have seen stories of FIRE people who moved to a very remote area, never dine outside, rarely travel etc. It seems like a pretty bland way to live to me. 
  • FIRE doesn't leave you much optionality to accommodate life surprises (kids, medical issues etc.) or if you change your mind. 
To be clear, many of these issues are addressed when you read in detail about FIRE. But to anyone new or who reads just at a surface level, the FIRE framing may be misleading. 

I propose an alternative framing: Lifestyle You Want Early or LYWE - pronounced the same way as Live :). 

LYWE has 3 main steps:

  1. Define lifestyle and activities that will make you happy and fulfilled. What would you do if you didn't have to work? What kinds of work do you enjoy?
  2. Chart and follow a path to slowly do more of the lifestyle and work. Eliminate money and time expenses on everything that isn't contributing towards that path. 
  3. Find a job that fits with this lifestyle. It is only work if it is something you don't want to do."

For example, let's say you want to spend your life with close family, in a cabin near nature, writing books and traveling occasionally. In your 20-30s, spend 20% of your time (weekends and a couple of weekday evenings) doing some of this, earn money from a regular job and cut unnecessary expenses. In your 30s-40s you save enough, maybe switch to a journalism job or go part-time at your regular job so that you can expand to 40% of the lifestyle; In your 50s-60s, switch jobs or start a small writing business and work remotely from a cabin. In your 70s-90s, you can continue working on your journalism job or business - why stop and retire when it's the lifestyle want?! 

LYWE framing fixes the FIRE issues:  

  • It forces you think of what you want, rather than just about quitting working. 
  • You get to start living the lifestyle you want immediately and all your life!
  • Trying out the lifestyle early gives you a taste of it and lets you course correct.
Go LYWE it up!