My Adventures Through The Looking Glass

crispydoc Uncategorized 2 Comments

For physicians with specialties than enable them to scale back time commitments, I’ve always suspected that creating a “glide path to retirement” could make a significant difference in day to day quality of life.

Time to test that hypothesis! It’s been six weeks at my reduced shift load as an emergency physician, and I thought it would be a worthwhile exercise to review what they’ve been like.

Let’s go straight to the highlights reel:

  1. Joined a friend on my first multi-day back-country camping trip near Tahoe. First time I’ve ever done something like that. Dehydrated food, forty pounds of gear on my back and no one but the two of us for three days. It was a weekend of trust and gratitude with a remarkable human being.
  2. For the first time in three years made it to a friend’s Halloween party (parents only!). The theme was Tim Burton films. I cobbled together a thrift store version of Pee Wee Herman. My wife killed it as Mrs. Lovett from Burton’s adaptation of Sweeney Todd.
  3. Chaired the investment subcommittee of a new endowment for an organization I support. Opened an account at Vanguard and helped a great group of committed people agree on a passive, extremely low cost balanced fund with a reasonable asset allocation. Greater victory still, obtained consensus on avoiding advisory fees!
  4. A few nights before Halloween, took the kids to drop off “boo bags” for their friends. Left bags of candy on doorsteps, rang the bell and hauled back to the car before the friends could identify us as the perps. Beats the flaming poo bags we used to leave on doorsteps. Today’s kids are soft.
  5. Took the kids trick or treating. Each kept their top 30 candies and donated the remainder to our troops in exchange for 30 bucks credited to the Bank of Mom and Dad. They get to eat one candy every week end. I know, I’m a tyrant, but one who pays the mortgage and the dentist.
  6. Recorded my first podcast interview for Peds RAP, a CME program that has nothing to do with financial independence.  Left the studio feeling like I’d done a B- job full of rookie mistakes, but just heard the edited reel and they made me sound far more competent than I was. Not set for release yet, but feels exciting anyway.
  7. Took a long weekend for a large-scale family reunion. Attended a separate dinner for a regional family gathering.
  8. Went out to dinner with friends four times. Attended a work-related dinner party. Went to a concert where a friend’s 80s cover band was playing.
  9. Went on a bird walk sponsored by the local conservancy. Arranged weekday morning hikes with friends 3 of the past 6 weeks.
  10. Went sea kayaking all but one week.

This is the life I’d been dreaming about, and suddenly I’m living it. FI people are big on measuring progress toward their goals, and the past month and a half have been remarkable on all fronts. Social. Passion project. Family time. Dates with my wife. Fitness.

But it takes looking at the past week to assess the most meaningful wins.  In the last seven days, I worked three shifts (two days and a night, two of them over the weekend), yet still managed to:

  1. Take both kids on a hike and give my wife a break she needed.
  2. Go on a bike ride with my daughter.
  3. Take my daughter to the local junior high to shoot hoops.
  4. Take my son bodyboarding.
  5. Take my wife out on a double date.
  6. Eat lunch with my wife four days in a row.

So even though I haven’t reached my FI number yet, simply being in a position to reduce my shifts has afforded me the  ability to allot my time in accordance with my values.

I could get used to this.

Comments 2

  1. The fact that emergency medicine is scale-able is an incredible perk of the job. I realize this is an older post, but knowing where you are now, it’s even more interesting to see how the glide-path began: giving yourself to family, rather than a kamikaze mission to achieve FI as quickly as possible.

    1. Post

      Agreed, the easy ability to scale up or down is that rare example of a positive unintended consequence of choosing this particular field.

      If I can try to recreate my mindset at that time, the feeling was I was going to reverse-engineer into the life I wanted. That meant showing up for my family and restoring well-being became first priorities, with the pursuit of FI getting bumped to a secondary if still important priority.

      I had to return to being in before I could focus on clocking out. It worked for my specific situation, but that doesn’t mean others in a toxic environment that is sapping their souls could not benefit from a FI-first, kamikaze approach.

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