I love the idea of financial independence and we work towards this every day with clients. The retire early part of this acronym is the part that I think is a bit more nuanced. We work primarily with medical and dental professionals who have spent a decade or more in University and training to pursue their careers. The idea of putting in this much work and then wanting to exit as soon as possible seems a little counter intuitive to me. That is why in our planning we focus on quantifying what the net worth statements and expense projections would be in order to be financially independent, although very few take this route before a traditional retirement age.
There is a transition point where you have reached financial independence where you are working for satisfaction and not livelihood. This can free you up to transition to a more enjoyable work situation or scale back to a part time position. The ability to say no is also much easier. No to a committee, no to a director position, No to a weekend shift. During your working career, you are trading hours of your time for dollars and the calculation for that trade changes over time. Trading dollars for a toxic work environment filled with bureaucracy is much different than trading for a collegial environment where you can go home at night feeling you made a tangible impact in people's lives.
As a parent who has children growing up in the household, I also want them to see what hard work looks like and respect the value of a dollar. If I were to have retired early, those impressions would not have been ingrained in them during their early teenage years.
That is why I would prefer a slogan like Financial Independence Work Well. It does not make for a great acronym, but I do think it works for a successful work life balance.