My little man taught me a lesson when he turned four and a half.  Despite his young age, he has learned that how you finish matters.   Where did he learn this lesson?  In Mariokart of all places.  He is much happier with himself when he turns into a bullet and has an exciting finish even if it is second to last place than when he gets middle of the pack (say 5th place).  “Daddy, I got 11th place!!” My son’s reaction made me think about finishing other races, like my life after FI (financial independence).  How will I finish that race?  What will I do?

This question hit me again while reading the book A Doctor’s Guide to Eliminating Debt.  At the end, the author (Dr. Cory Fawcett) poses a great question:  “What are you retiring to?”  The book discusses the finish line.  Not just making it to the finish line, but what to do after it.

So, I’d like to discuss five things that I’ll do more often when I cross my financial independence (FI) number.  This is my life after FI (Financial Independence).

Number 1.  Mission Work

If I went back and read any of my personal statements or secondary applications for medical school, I bet “mission work” is in every single one of them.

I’ve always had a heart for helping others in a meaningful way (though I readily admit that not all mission work is as helpful as we think).

At this point, I’ve really only taken two mission trips.  The first was a faith-based trip to Peru where we built homes for the “Street Boys” that had been abandoned by society.

The second was a medical trip to Ghana that I took as a resident during my chief year.  We taught the local SRNA students and CRNAs how to practice better anesthesia. (My department has more anesthesiologists than the entire country of Ghana).

The need is absolutely massive.  By reaching my financial independence number, I’ll be able to take more mission trips because I will no longer be dependent on my income.  In an ideal world, I’d do this for a month or two each and every year.  It could even occur during the summer so that my kids could come with me.

My dream mission work would involve being a part of a sustained educational program. In a program like this, I’d be teaching others how to fish, instead of fishing for them and leaving.  Those that I teach could continue to practice by themselves and teach others that come behind them.

I list this number 1 in my life after FI for a reason.  It matters a lot to me.

Number 2.  Focus on the aspects of my job I love

Once I get closer to my FI number, I’ll likely pursue Partial FIRE.  In fact, I may pursue Partial FIRE when I am at a fraction of my number.  You don’t have to wait to reach financial independence to wield FI power.

I plan to cut back on the parts of the job that I am not so enamored with and focus on the aspects that I love.  This may change over the years, but what I love most right now is educating residents, doing research, and performing regional anesthesia.

I like feeling productive and finishing a day’s work knowing that I really helped people improve their quality of life.

But what I REALLY love is seeing the light bulb turn on in a young person’s mind when they’ve heard something explained to them for the first time.  Or maybe it was just that they had something explained to them in a way that finally clicked.

Seeing the gears start to turn as they process the new found concept is so fun to me.  It is usually followed by 100 questions, and I enjoy trying to answer every question I can.  My life after FI would involve a lot more teaching, and a lot less of the things I don’t enjoy.

Number 3.  Improve Financial Literacy Across the Country

On that note, I want to bring my love of teaching young trainees to other places.  I have a heart for freeing medical students and residents from the captivity that is normalized debt and financial stupidity.

We can’t blame them.  They didn’t build this road to burnout and financial depravity. They were educated in the same system that we were.

I didn’t figure this stuff out until late into my training (as in, during my last year of training).  Others don’t figure it out until well into their roles as attending physicians.  I want the people coming behind us to become financially literate much sooner.  Part of this will likely involve creating personal finance curricular activities across the country.

I think that when you are free of the shackles of debt that bind you, that you become a better doctor. 

After all, when you can practice medicine because you want to and not because you have to….it provides freedom.  It allows you to practice medicine in a way that produces satisfaction at work.  Satisfaction leads to better practice.

Number 4.  Brew beer again, or maybe buy a brewery?

Before I had kids, I loved to brew beer.

Its a fascinating process, and my neighbor and I actually got pretty good at it.  After the second kid was on the way, some things had to stop.  It’s hard to tell my wife I am going to brew beer all day (it’s a 6-8 hour process) while she watches the kids.

Now we have three kids… so you can guess how often I plan on brewing beer in the next ten to fifteen years.  It got so unlikely that I gave my brewing set up to a buddy of mine.

I do miss brewing, though.  In my life after FI, I look forward to getting back to producing something with my own hands and enjoying the beer I make for weeks on end.  I’d love to someday have a keezer with a collar.  From that collar, I’ll have two or three taps of home brews.

The three beers I’d want on tap?

  1. A double IPA (the malt balances the bitter bite up front).  Some examples of this might include Two Hearted Ale, Pliny the Elder, Cart from Brewery Bhavana (a local favorite of mine).
  2. A Porter or brown:  Too many good ones to even list here.
  3. A Seasonal:  A likely rotation would include: Bell’s Cigar City Good Gourd for Fall, Grapefruit Sculpin (Technically not a seasonal, but a really good beer) by Ballast Point during the summer and spring,  Troegenator Double Bock for winter.

Oh, and if that got old… I’d probably consider opening a brewery or being a major owner.  That would be fun.  I’d want it to be an indoor/outdoor brewery with places to socialize, play games, and have food trucks.  I’d also want to support local musical artists and let them play to get their name out there.

Number 5. Play More Golf with my Family

If you have read any of my posts in the past, you know that I love to play golf.  Particularly with my kids.

I’d play golf as much as I could possibly schedule.  I know this is the quintessential “I’m gonna retire and play more golf!”  But I really do love it.  I’d be happy to play 9 holes most days if my little girls and boy were along with me.

Maybe I’ll even get to travel to watch them play golf in high school or college at some point. (Or…ballet, art, music, or whatever other passion they find).

I’ve never forced the sport on any of them.  I just want them to love the sport (and for them to have an excuse to hang out with their dad when they are older when I am no longer cool).

Maybe I’ll even get my wife to like the game at some point.

Take Home: Life After FI

As I started writing this, I kept coming up with more things that I would like to do in my life after FI.  Like my son playing mariokart, I want to finish strong.  However, I also want to enjoy the journey along the way.

I imagine getting to my FI number and enjoying some of the above items while I get there.  I’ll partial FIRE for another 5-10 years after I reach my number.  This will provide benefits and allow me more flexibility to finish well.

What do you plan to retire to?  Any real plans or are you still just scheming?  I’d love to hear your plans. Leave a comment below.

TPP

14 thoughts on “My Life After FI: Lessons from Mariokart”

  1. It’s important to figure out what you are going to retire to. Some retirees don’t have a plan and after a few months, get antsy and end up un-retiring. As for me, I plan to do some volunteer work, do a lot of reading, travel the world, and possibly some part time locums for my group if they need coverage.

  2. Last night, I read this post before bed.

    Today, I rode my bike to Trader Joe’s for a grocery run and picked up a Grapefruit Sculpin IPA, currently chilling in the fridge.

    Damn you, Physician Philosopher!

    Enjoyed reading about your dreams and your drinks of choice alike.

  3. Following up on the Sculpin Grapefruit IPA: I’m normally 1) a complete beer ignoramus, and 2) partial to heartier, chewable beer (think porters and stouts) , but as a summer beer it had a nice one-two punch with the citrus and the bitterness. Thanks for the recommendation.

  4. Thanks again TPP. Here’s a question for you. If those are things that are really important to you to do “at some point”, are there ways that you can start fitting those things into your life now?
    I mean, you’re doing #3 with this blog. But consider taking a break to do a medical mission (I’ve done it a couple times), or fit more teaching or research in instead of clinical time. Or just drink more beer? Just my two cents :).

  5. Jimmy-
    I love the Mariokart analogy! The “WHY” behind FI is different for everyone and it’s definitely an important focal point. It’s not enough to just FI and then plan to watch TV for the next 40 years. We should definitely “retire to” something, not just “from” something. I’m loving my work with my patients so much that I have a hard time imagining retirement, but it’s fun exercise to dream about what I’d do after retirement.
    -Brent
    http://www.TheScopeOfPractice.com

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