Just Do It
“Just do it.” I spoke to many very successful entrepreneurs at FinCon last week, and that was the theme of their advice.
“Do it. Whatever you’re dreaming of, take the action now. Do it before you think you’re ready.
Set big goals, huge goals. And then, do it now.
For months, I have been thinking about cutting back at my day job. I’ve been burning the candle at four ends between working five days a week as a primary care physician, working on building this site, and trying to spend quality time with my family, while also trying to take care of myself.
Something had to give, so I’ve let self care fall to the wayside.
The Key Question: What's my "Why"?
So I asked myself, what is it that I want? I want a fulfilling career as a doctor. But, I also want time to enjoy my children and to watch them grow. I want to build this site and help young professionals get out of debt. These are my burning desires.
Here are the notable exceptions in the above list: A big house. Nice cars. Tons of money. Super early financial independence.
As Paula Pant says, we can have anything but not everything.
So, really the answer was simple. Working five days a week at my main gig and mornings, evening, and weekends on my side gig couldn’t last long. To get closer to my true desires, I needed to cut back hours at my main gig. I needed to regain balance.
But, of course, that meant I needed to take a pay cut. The beautiful thing about downsizing and paying off debt is that I have the financial room and the ability to make the choice to prioritize what I want out of life. There is no way I could have taken a hit to my paycheck if I had a $2800 student loan bill every month. Now that the loans are paid off, I can take the pay cut and still max our retirement savings, while not feeling a change in our lifestyle.
Why was I afraid?
I was immensely afraid to ask to cut back though. Mostly because it felt selfish. There is such a huge need for primary care doctors in my area and patients are waiting months to get in to be seen.
But, I realized it would be better for my patients and me if I ensured my longevity in the field by taking care of myself, instead of burning out and retiring at the age of 45 after achieving early financial independence.
Another fear point was, obviously, taking a paycut. It would not affect our day to day life much but it could slow down the journey towards financial independence by decreasing our savings. I was heartened to read that Angela from Tread Lightly, Retire Early, that she cut back her hours but actually increased her savings rate by having more time to be intentional.
Looking back, the reason I decided to dive into financial education and get out of debt was to be with my children more. When I realized I was wasting away my maternity leave worried about money instead of spending time with my baby, I knew something needed to change. Being able to spend more time with my kids has always been my “Why of FI”. Working full time and racing towards reaching FI as early as possible doesn’t really align with my “why.” So I’m opting to take more time with them now, while I’m still cool to them.
I was recently nominated for a Plutus Award for having the best new personal finance blog, along with four other awesome nominees. The Fioneers took home the well deserved trophy.
Even, before they won, I was sending them fan mail about how much I enjoy their site. I particularly like their concept of Slow FI. They define Slow FI as:
“When someone utilizes the incremental financial freedom they gain along the journey to financial independence to live happier and healthier lives, do better work, and build strong relationships. “The Fioneers
Basically, Slow FI is an attempt to define the process of finding balance between FIRE and YOLO. I think that is what I am doing here.
So, I’m cutting back my clinical hours to four days a week, instead of five.
Does this mean I’m giving up on financial independence? Absolutely not. I have a feeling this decision will propel us forward even faster because the universe rewards intentionality. I have been at this crossroads before choosing between picking up extra shifts versus spending time with my children. I chose my children and was still able to pay off my student loans in less than a year and a half. I’m confident it will happen again. I plan to use half the day to focus on The Frugal Physician. I will use the other half to pick my sons up from school and enjoy time with them. That’s what I want out of life.
Wherever you are in your journey to FI, take time to check in with yourself. What do you truly desire? Are your actions getting you closer to that? What can you do to realign your trajectory with where you want to be?
Then, just do it! Do it now because there will never be a better time. What you desire can be had. You just have to reach out and take it.
Till next time,
Standard Disclaimer: Not meant as individualized financial or medical advice. Photos from Unsplash.com