The Physician Philosopher Podcast
TPP #64: The Importance of Financial Freedom and Mindset with Dr. Daniel Shin
Editor’s Note: Don’t forget the doors to the Alpha Coaching Experience are finally OPEN, but will only be open until midnight on Thursday, February 3rd. Make sure to visit thephysicainphilosopher.com/ACE to get all the information.
One of the pillars to physician freedom and finding balance in your life as a doctor is money. It’s no secret that financial freedom can help you build a life within medicine that you love. And when coupled with understanding your mindset, it can help you build a life that doesn’t take all of the time you have away from the things you love, but supports it.
I recently spoke about personal finance, part-time work in medicine, and finding a work-life balance as a husband, father, physician, and entrepreneur with an Alpha Coaching Experience client, Daniel Shin. Coaching has played a huge part in helping him overcome burnout and allowed him to find the work-life balance he needed.
Dr. Daniel Shin, the Darwinian Doctor, is a practicing urologic surgeon. He’s also a really experienced investor, in particular, in real estate. He really likes to help accelerate people’s financial journey, and really ended up doing that on his own through getting rid of $300,000 in debt, working through burnout, and figuring out a job he felt handcuffed in.
Now Dr. Shin is on the other side of those things. And he did a lot of that through financial literacy, financial education, by creating financial independence for him and his family, and working through burnout. Daniel is not only successful in the financial realm, but he’s also a prior client of the Alpha Coaching Experience. He has lived and experienced how doctors can really tie together the three things that we focus on the most- your mindset, your money, and your time.
Finding Freedom Through Money
Dr. Daniel Shin was originally from the East Coast, or as he likes to say, “I’m from the suburbs of New Jersey.” ,That is where Dr. Shin spent his formative years which was a very idyllic childhood, in the beginning. But then around middle school when there was a recession in the US, his dad’s industry, which was commercial real estate, really took a hit, and that perfect lifestyle went out window.
Over the course of a very short amount of time Daniel’s family had their house foreclosed on and had to move across town to a rental. As a child not really understanding much about money, this was really scary. This sort of financial scarcity and insecurity marked the rest of his primary education through middle school and high school, and shaped a lot of his decisions later in life.
So Daniel saw becoming a physician as my means to a stable financial future. But basically, what happened is that Dr. Shin became an attending physician, and all of his dreams seemed to be realized.
He had a great job, a family, was having kids, you know, everything was going great. And he was doing everything that you were “supposed to do,” you know, like his family got a new car, it was this fancy red SUV, and moved into a big house.
But like two or three years into it, Dr. Shin found himself working 60 hours a week with a two hour drive on top of that, and he was feeling really burnt out.
So while money was the first step to security and freedom in life, Daniel was starting to understand that money alone could not help him have the life he wanted.
Finding Work-Life Balance Through Mindset
So Dr. Shin considered cutting back, but his lifestyle had sort of expanded to a point where he felt very shackled by his expenses. You know, the mortgage, car payment, daycare costs for two kids.
He felt like he had these very heavy golden handcuffs on and was looking for a solution.
This is when Dr. Shin started down the path to trying to gain control over his finances. So he started to document his journey on his blog, The Darwinian Doctor, and inspire others to do the same.
But, the golden handcuffs didn’t get much better. Now Daniel could add income streams to his family and continue to increase their ability to reach financial freedom sooner, but the burnout was still there.
This is very similar to my own story. I figured out the financial stuff first and put my family on a glide path to be financially independent by our mid 40s. And yet, I was still burned out in medicine just like Dr. Shin.
As Dr. Daniel Shin noted, “I often ask myself, what differentiates people you know, successful people who on paper look very, very similar to people that maybe have the same financial means and the same, you know, resources but are not happy? And I realized that a lot of that is mindset.”
Your mindset it so important to burnout. The way that you perceive the world, the way that you perceive your place in the world, and how you relate to other really plays into how you feel.
So over two years, Dr. Shin was gaining more and more control over his personal finances. And he’d gotten to a point on paper, where he was quite successful. But Dr. Shin was still very burnt out at work and overextended.
He felt like he still needed something to help make that leap to regain a little bit more freedom and time.
And that’s when Dr. Shin found the Alpha Coaching Experience and started on the path to decrease his burnout, find freedom, and get his time back.
So while money is still a really important tool, it’s really a means to an end, it’s not the end itself.
Becoming a Self-Determined Physician
Once Dr. Shin found coaching he started to learn the tools that could really help him regain his freedom. And after a few months of practice, Dr. Shin began to implement these tools into his life.
One of his biggest takeaways was that there’s a difference between your thoughts and circumstances. When you initially learn about these terms it seems very, almost so rudimentary that it’s like, of course, that makes sense.
But once you actually learn how to apply that to your life then it is a different thing entirely. It’s almost like a superpower.
So basically, it took Daniel about a month and a half to two months of hearing about this tool, how to look at his thoughts before it really started to sink in.
For example, there are things that happen in your life that are facts, like you stub your toe, “I stubbed my toe,” that’s a fact. But the way that you then think about these things that are facts in your life is completely under your control. Your thoughts and the way that you perceive what’s going on in your life is very much under your control.
After a while, Dr. Shin began to realize that he was actually in control of a lot more in his life than he initially realized. And that was very freeing. That was the big sort of aha moment from coaching for this doctor.
It is definitely a work in progress. The course in ACE is 3 months and it’s definitely sort of a practice that you don’t sort of flip a switch, and all of a sudden, you’re, you know, you’re fine, and you’re completely in control of everything.
It’s something that you continually practice in your life.
Daniel noted that those 3 months, “… did start me on this path where I do feel a lot more control. And I realized that a lot of the fears that I had about trying to exert more control over my schedule as a physician, a lot of those fears were just in my head.
I’m in a leadership position at work and one of the biggest fears I had was that if I tried to cut back from 120%, or 125%, which was my usual week, to closer to 100%, that I would be letting my department down, or we wouldn’t be able to sort of meet our metrics and all that. And then I realized that you know, that is just not true, we are going to be just fine. In fact, by exerting control over my life and being less burnt out and more healthy than I think I’ll it’ll be inspirational to my department.”
You just have to decide what’s best for yourself or are you going to let society or some stigma that might exist, basically prevent you from making a transformation in your life?
A lot of people have this assumption that when you’re getting coached, or you’re seeking help, you’re asking for help that you look weak, or that you have some problem that you need to have fixed.
Ending Physician Burnout
One of the other important keys to reaching freedom and ending burnout is putting boundaries on your time. This is the third boundary and when Dr. Shin stepped back from clinical medicine a little bit going from 1.2 or 1.25, FTE to just 1 FTE (isn’t it crazy that a doctor’s regular schedule is OVER 40 hours a week?).
In December, Dr. Shin just went to his scheduler and I said, “Look, in December, I would like to as much as possible, given the responsibilities I have, and you know, taking care of the patients, I want to be as close to 100% time as possible. So 40 hours a week.”
So by December, he started trying to do that and essentially, it’s just sort of a math game. Daniel was able to arranged his schedule to concentrate his hours into four days of the week. And then he has one day a week where he can work on his blog, real estate business, educational stuff, like on TikTok, and it is actually working.
Dr. Shin noted, “And as soon as that started happening, my mental health took a significant step forward. I was so much less burnt out.”
While Daniel loves the financial security he has created from getting passive streams of income from stocks from real estate investing, there’s only so much he could do to optimize his schedule before his was just burning the midnight oil.
Gaining a bit of control over this time has been really, really rewarding.
So while Dr. Shin is sacrificing more money by going from 120% to 100%, it was watching a coach in ACE point out that you’re not giving up as much as you think you are, because you’re in the highest tax bracket so (in this doctor’s case) California taxes you like crazy.
For Daniel, that was actually was one of the most pivotal moments for him. He notes, “I was like, you are absolutely right! So in making these calculations and thinking about what am I giving up? It allowed me to think about what I’m gaining more than just the numbers.”
How Doctors Go from Good to Great
Coaching is more than just for people looking to end burnout. Coaching, fundamentally, helps you go from good to great as well.
I’ve met people that have a growth mindset, have an abundance mindset, that are accomplishing massive things in their life, and they all have coaches (and all of the best coaches that I know, have coaches themselves). It’s not like this process just stops.
And if you are finding it hard to invest in yourself, know you are not alone but you should really explore why.
Dr. Shin reflected on this same struggle. He noted how when it comes to things like signing up for a coaching program, or literally buying himself a new shirt, he would tell himself that he didn’t need it.
But then he would struggle a lot.
So this is the advice that Dr. Shin offered, “… the thing that helps me make that investment was that as physicians we are some of the most highly educated people in the world, right. And through medical school, college, and residency, we will go into debt to the tune of $300,000, thinking that there’s going to be a benefit. It’s getting to the point where you believe that the coaching is worth the money too. Hearing from testimonials from prior students, and then just seeing it around me, I can tell that it was absolutely worth the money. So, you know, putting out that initial investment of a few thousands dollars to change the rest of my life… it’s going to be worth it. And it was.”
So wherever you are in that spectrum, coaching can help and the Alpha Coaching Experience is open right now to help. Get out of burnout, get your time back, and find the freedom you are searching for… all while still practicing and loving medicine.
Daniel Shin is the author of the Darwinian Doctor Blog. If you are looking to learn about how you can create financial freedom through real estate investing and other means, I encourage you to follow Daniel and learn how.
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