Recent portfolio gains and a dramatic increase in this blog's readership as of late combined with many discussions with financially independent people have caused me to reflect much more lately about how I live my life. I'm not financially independent yet, but it's becoming more and more clear that my plan to become so is going to work just fine. Combining a nice, but reasonable, lifestyle with a high savings rate and a well-thought-out investing plan is clearly a path to success. So lately, I've been thinking about how my life would change if I were financially independent RIGHT NOW.
Quit Your Job?
I was talking to a partner and asked him what he would do if he had enough money to support himself the rest of his life. He said he's quit right now. He felt he had plenty of hobbies he enjoyed and could live just fine without practicing medicine at all. I've also got plenty to do, including this blog, but I'm still not sure I'd quit my job all together.
Work On Your Terms?
I spent a lot of time and effort to become a doctor. I love the ongoing learning and the “people watching” aspect of medicine. People are absolutely fascinating and I find it interesting to see how they tick, both physically and mentally. I also love the occasional opportunity to save a life and fix a problem and the frequent opportunities to relieve pain and reassure someone that their potentially serious symptoms don't actually come from any type of serious problem. I'd be lying, however, if I said there was nothing about my job that I dislike. I don't like dealing with drug-seekers, trying to convince unreasonable people to be reasonable, or caring for people who feel they're entitled to my care for free (although I actually like caring for grateful people for free). I also dislike the constant liability from errors I could make, which drives a lot of financially independent doctors out of medicine. While medicine is still enjoyable to them, it isn't worth the risk of them going from being financially independent to not being financially independent. Personally, I would at least quit working the overnight shifts and I would probably cut back on the number of shifts I work if I didn't need the money.
What Do You Really Want To Accomplish?
Most people, including Americans, will never have the opportunity to do whatever they want without considering the financial ramifications. It is really quite a gift to have 40+ years of your life to put to a productive use, and one that I would feel at least a little bit guilty squandering. Medicine is certainly a worthy goal, but so is volunteer work, generating a financial legacy for your descendants, raising a family, politics, or even a second career. There are lots of options out there.
Fake It Til You Make It
The more I've thought about this, the more I think perhaps I shouldn't delay my desired lifestyle for the date that I hit financial independence. So as much as possible, I've been trying to use my time in the exact same way I would if I had $5 Million in the bank. For now, I'm still working those pesky night shifts, but otherwise I'm trying to do exactly what I would do if I could retire tomorrow.
How would your life change today if you were financially independent? What kind of a legacy would you like to leave? Comment below!