I’ve been getting a lot of e-mails and questions about how to get started in their next phase of their physician journey, as well as whether the conference we’re going to be having, BootcampMD, if it’s right for them. We’re getting close to selling out the conference, but some people are still on the fence about whether or not to go.
More than just the conference, it’s more of a question about where you are, and what your plans are for 2019. It’s about creating a design, a framework so to speak, for your physician life. First, it doesn’t matter what specialty you are, or what position your work. You may be an employed physician, you may be in private practice, or maybe you’re doing locums. It doesn’t matter.
With the beginning of the new year, this is also a great opportunity for reflection. If you are reading this, it may mean you do not like your current circumstances. If so, ask yourself, “Am I in the same position that I was a year ago? Am I making changes now for 2020, moving forward?” As physicians we are all busy, and we don’t even have time to stop and “smell the flowers.”
As doctors we are trained to be caring and thinking about somebody else. The de facto response is why we went into medicine, was “to help people”. But how many times do we actually sit back and perform a self-care assessment? What is the position you’re at right now, and are you getting true fulfillment and purpose in your life? Do you feel you are providing as much value to the world as you are right now?
If you’re on my Facebook group, most likely you’re starting a business, or you may already have a business and looking to grow and scale. But for many, you may not be sure if entrepreneurship is the right path. That’s OK.
Here’s a simple math equation that may provide some answers. I want you to take your age, and I want you to take the number “79,” and I want you to subtract your age from that number. So if you’re 49, like myself, you get the number 30.
Now, you want to take that number, and I want you to take a third of that, and subtract it from that number. So again, I’m 49, I subtract from 79, is 30, Now let’s take a third of that, 10 and the resulting number is 20. And now I want you to circle that number 20, or whatever number you get.
What am I getting at here? 79 represents the average life span of an American, 79 years old, or more specifically 79.6,. The number, your age, that’s how many years that you have left on this earth. Now, I took a third of that away, which represents, the time we sleep, eight hours a day on average. So you have 20 years left in your life span.
Subtract another year from that, and this represents the vital functions, your eating, your bodily functions, perhaps exercise, those kinds of things you have to do to maintain life. So, I got about 19 years left. 19 years, to decide what I want to do for the rest of my life.
Now, you have to subtract half of that number. The new number is going to be devoted to work. So, about 50% of it. Most doctors work more than an eight-hour day. Of those 19 years, if I was an employed physician, I was working, I’ve got probably about 10 years of that. So, basically what you have left over is I’ve got nine years left to do whatever.
So Nine years left! For most people, they’re using those nine years to watch TV. That’s about it. That’s nine years you have left to spend time with your family, spend time with your loved ones, enjoying the hobbies that you like to do, travel. That’s about all you’re going to be getting on this Earth, if you’re my age. Do you really want to spend 10 years of that 19, 50% of that working for someone else? That may not be in the best position that you want to be.
Now, I did this little Math equation several years ago, and I didn’t like what that number was. When I was a busy physician, I spent a lot of time writing or more likely refusing prescriptions for medications that I wasn’t happy with, either for myself and covering for other colleagues. At times I felt either like a drug pusher or drug refuser. I needed to make a change and make it fast.
When you’re looking at designing your physician life, again, this may not be a radical concept, but it’s okay to give your permission to think about yourself and what you want to do, and how you want to spend the rest of your life doing.
Think about that number, and think about, what is the best way that I want to spend my time on this Earth doing? Is it going to be typing notes into the EMR until the wee hours of the night? Is it going to be getting in fights with insurance companies, even if it’s a foregone conclusion that you will get paid less reimbursements than you had the year before? Is it going to be spending a boat load of money and taking tests for mandatory certification for minutiae that has no bearing as you as a quality doctor?
When you’re looking at designing your physician life, the first question you want to ask is, “Where I am right now?” What is my current situation right now? Where am I at? This is going to take some soul searching. For many physicians who are looking to start a business, ask yourself, am I financially okay to start something like this right now? Do an internal audit right now.
Your Physician Life Assessment
When I work with potential clients, this is the first question I ask. I look at the financial numbers of what they’re doing right now. For many of us, it’s difficult to look at our financial situation. Nobody likes to look at themselves in the mirror. When I have patients come in for weight loss, some don’t want to get onto the scale or take body fat measurements. But if you want to reach a destination, you have to know where you started. If you want to see improvement, you have to know what is the starting point. Again, it can be very difficult to look at yourself to see where you’re at. But you have know where you are.
So, to answer that question, let’s look at finances and specifically your net worth. How much money do you have in the bank right now? How much is your medical school loans, or any type of loans you have? Do you have a mortgage? Do you have your loans? How much debt are you in? Those are the kind of numbers that you need to look at.
A great way to find this quickly is to subscribe to a free service like Mint.com or PersonalCapital.com. They are secure website companies, and easily import information from your bank and other financial institutions. If you’re married, enter your spouse information as well.
When I was looking at medical school loans, I was saying, “Okay, this is what I pay per month” and I would just focus on what is it per month. But what is the entire situation? What is the totality of those loans that are going to add up over time? How much will my house cost years fr now. Those are all going to add up.
Now that you have your net worth, let’s look at what’s coming in and out each month. How much is going to loans, utilities, etc. When I started this financial inventory process, I didn’t want to look at any of those numbers. But I needed to know how much could I risk when starting a business.
So let’s give an example. Let’s say you make $180,000.00 a year as an employed physician and have no financial assets. Let’s say Uncle Sam takes $60,000.00 of that. So your take-home is about $120,000.00 a year, or $10,000.00 a month.
Examining monthly costs, ]let’s say you pay $3,000.00 for a mortgage, and $1,000.00 for a couple of car payments. You’ve got another $1,000.00 for medical student loans, and then $3000 for utilities, children obligations, groceries, etc. The remaining number is what you need to be focusing on. How much can you actually play with?
In our example we now have $2000 left. Instead of spending $2000 on your next vacation or a big screen TV, why not focus it on investing it in building an asset? What if I could spend $2000 to replace the payment for my $1,000/month on medical student loans or car payments? I made the decision to use that money too invest $2000 in my business, so in future I won’t have to pay that extra $1000 each and every month. And once that money comes in from my business, I will now have $3000 each month, as my medical loans are now paid off.
Now one could argue why not use that $2000 to invest in your 401K or long term investments? Again there’s nothing wrong with that, and I still have investments in the stock market and mutual funds as well. But as my mom lost 8% of her retirement income due to the 2008 crash, I wanted to have money where it be something I could control. And that was becoming an entrepreneur and starting a business.
Next article – Overcoming Overwhelm. Start with the Product Before the Business.