Ok, so you made it through the tough talk in the last few posts. You’re still here! I’m very pleased you decided to join me. Let’s talk it over and generate a plan for your financial future:
Doctor, heal thyself
The name DoctorEquity is not a lie. I’m a doctor and also a real estate agent. I obtained them in that order and I obtained them for very different reasons. Paramedics have a saying: Don’t make a second victim. They want to help every possible person they can but they know that if they walk into that fire or puddle of water with the downed power line they won’t be able to care for the patient they are trying to save. They realize that in those situations, their well-being must come slightly ahead of the victim, otherwise there will be two victims. In order to have a chance at saving a life, they have to protect their own life.
Just stating it seems anathema, though. Doctors are trained to always help others at all costs, anyone who thinks otherwise is a bad doctor. And so we tend to grind ourselves away helping people. But the paramedics have it right. If we give and give and don’t care for ourselves, there will be nothing, and no one, left to give. Just think about your situation for a moment: Whatever you are doing, you are helping people in some way. They pay you for your help. That pay doesn’t always compensate you for the amount of energy it cost you. As you get older, you see that more and more. Burnout sets in. At some point, hopefully sooner rather than later, you realize that you need to start taking care of yourself. I want to show you how.
I decided in high school to attempt to become a doctor. The commitment was huge. Four years of college, four years of medical school, three years of residency. I’ll tell you about it in future articles, but it was something I’ll always remember. And something I would never do again. Don’t take that to mean I wouldn’t do it over again if I was still 21 years old. I only mean that I wouldn’t spend eleven years of my life now with close to zero income to get to where I am right now. And I am so thankful for the education I received. It enabled me to do one good thing and one bad: I was able to help people through medicine, but I also learned to expect income.
The toughest years of my life were medical school. That is, right up until I went to residency. Residency is a kind of intermediate level of training for a doctor. It is after medical school, you get a provisional license, and you can take care of patients on your own, to a degree. Residency was a whole new level of pain. In residency I had real responsibility to patients. I was a real doctor! The joy was nearly overwhelming. I was so proud of myself for making it. I knew it would be so but it was tough; the long hours were necessary to see all I needed to see, and I’m not proud to admit that at the worst times the only thing that got me through was the prospect of less work and more money once I was done.
In those years I saw some absolutely horrible and amazing things, like the ravages of cancer and AIDS, the tragedy of gang violence, the wonder of child birth, and the awesome responsibility that comes with saving a life. I know the best revelation for me was the day I realized that no one could do that job for a whole lifetime and keep his or her soul unscathed. There would be trauma and it would leave scars. I realized that there would come a time where I would feel like I had seen it all, a time where I couldn’t go into work another day, a time where my compassion was gone. If I walk into work on that day, that day I’m burnt out, I will have failed my patients.
So, I decided to make my Fifty-Year Plan, as I called it. It was really more of a goal and the name is kind of nonsensical, but the wording stuck for me. It is simple:
When I turn 50 years old I won’t have to work a job any more.
It’s not that I don’t want to go to work. It’s that I want to not have to go to work. I still find the ER gratifying, invigorating, and I love being a teacher to patients and students. But I know there will come a day when I don’t want to go to work anymore. When I’m 50 I don’t want to have to. I want to be able to walk away without a regret, financial or otherwise. I decided that every decision I made from then on would have that one single goal in mind. That was my decision. When will you make yours?
Who’s Making You Work?
Not your boss. Not your family. It was and is the decisions you make about how you spend your time and money. Those decisions now force you to continue your job. Don’t think you can just up and quit. Only a fool tells himself he can stop when he wants to. If you are like me, and if you stuck around reading this flight of ideas this long, you probably are, you went down the path of education and you started making oodles of money, your expenses grew, and you became enslaved to the bills. You were sold on the idea that when you retired you could continue with the lifestyle you currently have, but that was a lie. And you never would have come to this website unless some part of you deep down agreed with me.
I admit, you can’t stop cold-turkey, not without bankruptcy I suppose. And that is why you need a plan. It’ll take seven steps.