I like work. I really do. Although I have been talking up my half retirement, there is a reason I am not going the full monty. I derive pleasure from being a physician. The ability to reach out and help other human beings, and get paid for it is amazing. Not only the work itself, but the human interaction is also quite gratifying. I look forward to years of being a hospice medical director and enjoying the potential to affect my patients lives, and have collegial relationships with my peers. But strangely, life is starting to get in the way of work. Even with my reduced schedule, I am finding that pursuing my passions is starting to infringe on my employment time. Between creating content, reading, exercising, and blog promotion, I am constantly stopping in the middle of a task to hop in the car and go to the office. While most are struggling with work-life balance, I am moving towards life-work balance.
With all this life going on around me, who has time for work?
Financial independence (FI) and priorities
I guess it is all about priorities. Pre-financial independence life always took a back seat to employment. I was continuously making ends meet on nights and weekends to feed my W-2 needs during normal business hours. This created a harried schedule where vacations, pleasurable activities, and family time were all squished into as small a cubbyhole as possible.
It’s a truncated existence. An existence with anxious glances at the wristwatch and regrets about premature close. But for the most part, I didn’t really know any better. The busy professional forgets that the luxury of unhurried time consumption is in itself a joy.
Conversely, my post FI priorities have changed.
Extending vacations. Missing deadlines. Coming up short.
These are all things that start to happen when you are moving towards life-work balance.
Financial independence is a lever
Financial independence is the lever that flipped the switch from work-life balance to life-work balance. When I realized that I no longer had to work, I began to get in touch with my true purpose and identity. All of the sudden, time writing the blog or going to CampFI became the landmarks that I was organizing my work schedule around.
As my need for income has diminished, and my joy in communication and content creation has grown, I have started moving towards life-work balance.
Occasional I have now found myself regretting that I don’t have more time in my busy schedule to work. Occasionally a new opportunity comes along, and I shake my head while looking at my schedule. I just can’t fit it in.
And herein lies the magic. Since I find pleasure in working as a physician, I don’t think I will ever stop. I know, however, that I have found the right balance when I start complaining about not having enough time to fit in another work-related activity that I would enjoy, because I am too busy with other things.
I have a blog post to write. A novel to finish. A podcast to be a guest on. Or a vacation to take.
Financial independence has started the process of moving towards life-work balance. After years of believing that being a physician was my purpose and identity, I feel privileged to have found a newer better version of myself to become. A communicator. A content creator. Maybe even a podcaster? But I still enjoy being a physician from time to time.
Managing life-work balance ain’t easy.
But I might just have to make a go at it.
“DocG” is a physician who blogs at DiverseFI.
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