Jimmy Turner, MD, had always been a doer and a high-flyer, but after over a decade of school and teaching, he found something was missing. He found his true passion in helping and educating doctors about personal finances and the freedom that financial independence can offer. That was when the blog The Physician Philosopher was born.
Today’s classic will be republished by The doctor philosopher You can see the original Huhe.
My life has been shaped by four-year epochs for 18 years. First there was high school. Then college. And of course, four years of medical studies and four years of anesthesiology followed. Eventually the monotony was resolved by a one-year scholarship. After this step was completed, my mind did not know how to calculate the fact that the “final step” was complete.
What was the next four year obstacle? What goal would I strive for now?
It turns out that this is a difficult question to answer and that the question itself could be a problem. And it could be the root of a burnout that I experienced amidst all my hustle and bustle.
Always on the hunt
I recently asked one of my best friends to describe myself in two words as part of the homework for a class I was taking. Without hesitation, she said, “Compassionate Achiever.”
That second word is a bit of a problem for me. I have learned that it is extremely difficult for me to be complacent or content in life. Even after the end of those four-year epochs I mentioned above, I made my mind to go into academic medicine. With academics, I saw myself rising quickly up the academic ranks.
The average increase in rank was six years. I wanted my first associate professor promotion to be in four years. And become a full professor in no more than 9 or 10 years. Aiming high, but that’s more my way of life.
I planned to publish a lot, immerse myself in teaching, and be a fantastic clinician. I would be a real “triple threat” which is a rarity in academic medicine where people are great at two of the three pillars (research, teaching and practice) but not all three.
While writing three randomized controlled studies, winning teaching awards, and practicing the best medicine I could in my freshman year, I felt like something was missing.
Then I discovered my passion for teaching doctors about personal finance and the freedom that financial independence can offer. The blog was born and new goals were formed.
Never be satisfied
The ultimate goal of all of this is, through extra income, to create enough freedom from my main occupation to lead the life that I envision in my head will one day come into view. The problem, of course, is that “one day” often never comes. There are always more things to be achieved and more obstacles to be removed.
As Benjamin Franklin said
Tomorrow every mistake should be changed; but tomorrow never comes
The idea is that tomorrow will always get better, but that tomorrow will never really get better. Franklin says that if we can’t learn to be satisfied today, we likely won’t find satisfaction in the future.
This is my daily struggle right now. Be satisfied now. Live the moment. And I count my blessings including my amazing wife and three children who I certainly do not deserve.
I’m calling us all out. I know that I’m not the only one who dreams of a better tomorrow without appreciating it today. We have to be deliberate about our lives, and it starts today.
Here are some goals that I’ll be focusing on over the coming weeks:
- No phone when I get home until my kids are in bed. The phone will be muted when I’m not on call and I’ll be there with my family.
- When my kids ask me to do something with them, I won’t say “in a minute”. I will put them first and make them the priority I claim they are.
- I will read the scriptures as I should and put my priorities back where they need to be.
- My money will be put where my mouth is – I will notice the people around me who are in need. I will give generously to my church and to charity.
- Not only do I hang up the phone at least twice a week before the kids drop out, but I also keep it off while my wife and I spend time together.
I think this is a good start. And if I write them down, I’ll be held accountable. I encourage all of my readers to email me. Ask me how to do it Encourage me to follow my family. And to enjoy today.
Hopefully this post does the same for you!
Take-Home: We only live once
Studies have shown that the anticipation we experience before a big event usually provides more satisfaction than the big event itself. Our expectations almost always exceed reality.
Even though I’ve learned this lesson over and over again, I keep longing for tomorrow. Finding satisfaction today seems impossible when tomorrow promises so much more!
I’ve already written about how we all know our own mortality. Tomorrow can never come. We see this every day at work. On the rare occasions I’ve seen someone attend their own funeral, it wasn’t about more shifts, more money, or another blog post.
Instead, those I saw on Death’s Bed dealt with their faith, family, and friends.
So today, notice the things in your life that mean the most to you. Then make an intentional decision to spend time tracking and tracking what matters most to you.
Tomorrow may not have today’s mistakes, but we need to realize that tomorrow can never come.
Are you struggling to find satisfaction today? Do you always look forward to tomorrow? Leave a comment below.