Without a doubt the most frequently asked question I get from readers is about what I do that provides the amount of freedom that I have. I’ve been wanting to write about these topics for a long time, but I wasn’t sure if you guys would want to read that type of content on a medical school-related blog. Judging from the number of emails asking similar questions, I think you guys have spoken.
First and foremost, to obtain the freedom that you want and desire requires that you first get into the right mindset.
The mindset portion of the freedom equation might be the most difficult part for most of you to grasp. It’s not your fault, either. For your entire life, most of you have been told to blindly chase the following simple algorithm:
Work –> Save –> Retire
Find a job that provides a paycheck on a regular basis. You are to mindlessly continue to work this job — no matter how unfulfilling it may be — for hours every day, until you are roughly 62 years of age. You will receive on average one to two weeks of vacation per year and maybe weekends off.
For each of those regular paychecks, you are to allocate a set percentage to a savings account or some type of investment to prepare for when your life is essentially over. That is, retirement.
Retirement is for when you’re tired of doing whatever it is you’re doing to put food on the table. With inflation factored into the equation even the well-prepared who saved while slaved will be living a middle class lifestyle by the time they retire. Not only that, but they will be so used to working that they’ll be bored without a job and will probably find some type of work to fill the void. Kind of defeats the purpose, doesn’t it?
Familiarity For Me
Does this sound familiar? I bet it does. You’re the worker bee, and anything else is unacceptable. Get up at the same time each day, perform the same (for the most part, even in medicine) tasks, go to bed, and then get up and repeat it all over again. If you try to buck the system, you’re lazy. I was told throughout medical school that I was lazy, uninterested, and not a team player. I was told by my parents and grandparents that I’m better off having a regular job making somebody else rich while I punch a time clock.
Just look at what medical training tries to force into your virgin minds: You can’t take off if you’re sick because it’s a sign of weakness. Asking to go home when your work is done is a sign of weakness. Showing distaste for unfulfulling work is a sign of weakness.
I call horseshit. It’s no wonder that the burnout rate in medicine is so high.
Rebel Against the System
To get into the right mindset for freedom is going to require you to throw out all conventional thoughts that you currently have about working and making a living. You will need to become a rebel.
Once I finally got it through my thick skull (it took awhile even for me), this is exactly what I did. Sure, I already had a sickening taste in my mouth with the hoops and inefficiencies that plague medical training — this made it even easier for me. As I wrote about earlier, I turned negative thoughts and emotions into positive actions.
It was at this time that I got into the right mindset, which was a foundation to the freedom that I have today.
Your Necessary Mindset Changes
As stated earlier, you will need to throw out everything you currently know about making a living to take your first step towards absolute freedom. Here are some ideas to get that mind churning:
- It’s OK to question the system. The system is backwards.
- You should enjoy life now and not wait until retirement.
- Conventional means of cash flow are inefficient (i.e. the daily job grind).
- Doing less is not laziness.
- Medicine is a job with enhanced social status.
As of now, this might seem like vague information. That’s OK because you need to first digest the vagueness and then begin to apply it to your individual situation. There’s no universal blueprint, but the individual principles are universal. In future posts, we’ll dive into more specific information.
The next time you’re on the wards and you are reminded of the inefficiencies in medicine while your fellow students are sitting around twiddling their thumbs, think about the following quote:
Everything popular is wrong.
–Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest