In this episode, we dig deep with Doc Green of What’s Up Next. As someone who has reached Financial Independence, but who has also not fully retired, we wanted to know what keeps Doc continuing to work as a physician.
What Doc found is that, for him, it boiled down to purpose, happiness, and identity. After a lot of deep thought, Doc says he decided to continue working part-time because he finds joy and fulfillment in his work.
Not unlike many other professionals, Doc finds he is driven in a lot of ways by achievement; however, he acknowledges there is a dark side of the focusing on achievement. It can take over and encroach upon other areas of life that are important to you and that satisfaction can only last for so long.
On the positive side of things, his desire to achieve has helped him start businesses, become a professional as well as save and invest. When he finds himself venturing into those dark places, Doc tries to get really peaceful and listen to what he is feeling.
Since achieving Financial Independence, Doc has decided to structure his life in a way that includes those things that bring him joy but also drawing the line at not being so focused that these things overshadow the time he spends with his family.
BIG IDEA = achievement without joy and peacefulness, does not serve your purpose.
“Being lucky enough to be in a financially secure place does not mean your brain has caught up to this idea of being peaceful.”
How do we teach our children?
Wisdom – Consequences – Modeling
As a kid, Doc watched his mom, who was an accountant and entrepreneur and his step-father who was an executive. They were also both business owners and real estate investors. He does not recall his parents sitting him down and teaching him about money or investing – but does remember watching his parents and modeling their behavior. He would go with his step-father to a property and watch as he repaved the driveway. He also observed as they collected rent checks but also saw what happened when tenants did not pay.
Because of these experiences, he was exposed to business people, real estate investors and stealth wealth practitioners and able to learn much of what he knows about finances from them.
Finding the FI community put a name behind a lot of what he had already learned from his parents. In addition, watching his parents and being exposed to their financial endeavors – lessened the number of experiential failures he might have otherwise experienced.
From an early age, Doc had an entrepreneurial spirit. One of his entrepreneurial adventures was selling paintings. In this venture, he made thousands of dollars in a secondary and tertiary artwork market. In spite of the success he experienced, he eventually lost interest and fell out of love with the artwork and also got too busy as a physician.
That is not to say that all of Doc’s business ventures were this successful. As a boy, Doc started a baseball card business he was convinced was going to be the next big thing. In the end, he lost money and only sold 3 out of 10 boxes.
Even so, he learned valuable skills from his baseball card business.
- He learned how to buy inventory
- He cold-called vendors to find product (one of the hardest things to do in sales)
- He also learned how to sell.
Docs says that starting new businesses and trying new things was just part of his upbringing.
Doc and his wife came from two entirely different money backgrounds. Doc grew up in a fairly wealthy and privileged environment. In contrast, his wife’s family were immigrants and fleeing persecution in Iran where they had been quite wealthy. In the process of finding safety, they lost just about everything they owned. In the States, they did not have the financial stability they had had before. As such, Doc’s wife grew up in an atmosphere of extreme frugality and carefulness out of necessity.
Even so, as they came together as a marital unit, both ended up having a similar outlook about how to manage money.
We asked Doc how achieving Financial Independence had affected their outlook about money.
Doc was most surprised by about the stress achieving Financial Independence had created. However, not in the ways you might suspect.
For him, the stress was wrapped around a crisis of identity – walking away from being a physician – something he had worked so hard and long to achieve was extremely difficult. He knew as a child he wanted to be a doctor so the thought of losing that identity was something he still struggles to consider.
For his wife – it is still a crisis. A fear centered around not having enough. She grew up to be a professional with the ability to support herself doing work that brings her meaning The ability to care for herself well as giving her the ability to never worry about money.
So when Doc waltzed in and said, “Hey honey – we are financially independent and you don’t have to work anymore.” She was not as excited as he thought she was going to be. He now realizes that was because she did not relate to the world in that way. She grew up with the idea that she needed to create financial stability and becoming a professional was the way to do that.
Doc believes, one of the benefits of becoming financially independent is the control it brings. Whereas before you may have accepted that you have to work doing something you don’t always enjoy, FI gives you control you otherwise would not have. One of the beauties of becoming FI is that you can begin cutting out the parts of your work that you do not enjoy.
How FI has changed Doc’s relationship with his children and his marriage.
He is now able to walk his kids to school, he is home when they are home, and he is no longer interrupted by phone calls when he is trying to enjoy time with his family.
He has become that “funny guy” he was when he and his wife first met. The “funny guy” is who he really is and the seriousness of life and stress took that away from him for a while. It’s good to be that guy again.
DOC ON THE FINAL QUESTIONS
The one lesson he learned as a kid that he has brought into his FIRE journey:
Stealth wealth – watching his parents save and knowing he didn’t have to spend everything he earned.
The one lesson he wants to pass on to his children:
Money is a vehicle to do things you want to do – but is not a purpose unto itself. Its a means to an end.
White Coat Investor
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