Podcast: DiverseFI and Regret Minimization Insights from Hospice Doctor, Doc G

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Episode 68 of the NewRetirement podcast is an interview with returning guest Doc G — a financially-independent, part-time physician and current podcaster & author. He discusses his new book, Taking Stock.

Learn what the end of life can teach us about the secret to financial independence and making every moment count from this hospice doctor who has a unique front-row seat to the regrets of his dying patients.

Steve: Welcome to The NewRetirement Podcast. Today we’re going to be talking with Jordan Grumet, a financially-independent, part-time physician, and current podcaster and author about his new book, Taking Stock. This is Jordan’s second round on our podcast. He’s also known as Doc G. He’s been gracious enough to also invite us on his podcast, What’s Up Next. So with that, Jordan, welcome to our show. It’s great to have you join us.

Doc G: Thank you for having me. I’m so excited for the conversation.

Steve: Yeah, it’s great to have you here. I just wanted to kind of jump in really quickly, if you give us a couple minutes just as background in terms of your journey into becoming a doctor and then hospice, and then finally what kind of motivated you to write this book.

Doc G: So the simple story is that my dad was a physician, an oncologist or cancer doctor, and at the age of seven he got a headache one day, went to work to round at the hospital and had a brain aneurysm and died. So he died very suddenly. And I was right at that age where I wanted to be just like him. I idolized my father and that made really concrete in me this idea that I would become a physician too. I would walk in his footsteps, I would do all those things he never got to do because he died so young. And that really became my identity and purpose throughout my childhood. I’m now involved in personal finance. I had no interest in money then. I was like, “I’m going to become a doctor. This is my calling. This is what I’m going to do in life.” And indeed I went to college and medical school and residency, and as I started practicing medicine, a few things happened.

One is I just became really burned out. The long nights, the weekends, the overwhelming paperwork, the dealing with the pain and sorrow of death on a regular basis. And sometimes there were just patients I couldn’t help. In my mid-thirties to early forties, after doing this for about 15 years, I started looking for a way out. And that was when I discovered the financial independence personal finance world. Looked at my own finances and said, “Wow, my parents had modeled such great financial behavior I actually had enough money to leave work.” On the other hand, I had no idea who I wanted to be or what I wanted to do with my life. And that set me down the path of writing about personal finance, podcasting, eventually writing this book about what it’s like to use money in service of a meaningful life full of purpose and identity.

And I didn’t leave being a physician completely, but I got rid of all those things I didn’t want to do as a doctor anymore, and I was left with hospice, which was taking care of the terminally ill and dying. But interestingly enough, my conversations with my hospice patients started to inform my conversations on the Earn and Invest podcast when we got past how do we get to financial independence, how do we make money, save and invest, but then got to the deeper questions of what that means and what we do with our lives. I found a lot of those questions came from my dying patients. So it was like both my world’s collided and I was like, “I need to write a book about this.”

Steve: Got it. That’s really interesting. I want to dive into one quick part of that. We just had Financial Samurai on the podcast and it was interesting kind of listening to you to share your story and also his story. So with him, he had this kind of vision of his life and he worked super hard and he cranked through college and got a job at Goldman Sachs and it was like his dream job. And then very quickly when he got that job, he realized it was not a good fit for him and he immediately started thinking about how could I make a pivot out of it? He ended up working 13 years in his current finance, but he realized quickly. It sounds like you had this vision of, hey, I want to go into healthcare. My parents were doctors, I want to become a doctor. And then you got into it and then you realized it wasn’t necessarily the perfect fit for you. But do you think you knew that really early or did it take you a little while in your career to come to that conclusion?

Doc G: There were two things that were early warnings, and yet it still took me a while. So the first one was when I was in medical school, I was at Northwestern University and they had a five year program in which you could do your four years of medical school, but if you did an extra year you’d also come out with an MBA from the Kellogg School of Business, which is an extremely prestigious business school. And I was telling my girlfriend, who is now my wife, about this, and I was saying, “Oh, I would never waste a year. I’m just so excited to become a doctor.” And she looked at me and she said, “You know what? I think you’d really like doing this. I’ve now known you, I’ve gotten really close to you. We’ve talked a lot. You think being a doctor is what you really want to do, but I’ve seen you talk about businesses, I’ve seen you get interested in entrepreneurship, you should do this program.”

And of course I didn’t, but it was like an early warning sign that someone who knew me so well saw an identity in me that I didn’t see in myself. So that was the first sign. Another big sign, which actually was the beginning of my burnout journey, is as a resident or physician in training, I had a horrendous night during residency when I was the only doctor in the intensive care unit and I had a patient die unexpectedly where I felt like I was flailing and not doing a good job. And after his family came and went and I had to talk to them at three in the morning about, “Sorry, your family member died,” and deal with all their pain and suffering, I got three calls the next day which were from the gentleman’s daughters who were estranged from his current family, and I had to tell them over the phone that their loved one died.

And it was just such a horrendous experience that it was the beginning of my burnout journey in the sense that I learned how to become cold and build up walls to protect myself from all the pain and suffering that I was seeing. But it made me a fairly miserable person. So those were those two big signs. But I think what Sam would probably say, and what I also say is, it’s one thing to dream about a profession and it’s another thing to actually do it. And often when it comes to these big professions, we don’t know what they are until we do them. You can dream about what you think it’s going to be, but it’s only when you actually get into the midst of what your everyday life is going to be like, as a practicing doctor in this case, that you really see what it is.

And of course, I had all sorts of dreams and aspirations that didn’t necessarily meet the reality. It’s not all rushing in the room and saving people. In fact, that’s 0.001% of the time. 99.99% is the drudgery, the difficult stuff, the painful stuff, or the paperwork. And so it’s hard to know that about a profession, whether you’re a lawyer or an accountant, or in this case a doctor, until you’ve done it.

Steve: Well, I mean it definitely is an argument for interviewing people about their career early on. It’s interesting that you were raised by doctors though, so you must have heard some of this in your household.

Doc G: Well, my dad was a doctor, but my mom wasn’t. My dad died when I was seven. And there were a few things that tie into a little bit of the book. I won’t go into detail about it now, but my dad had a feeling he was going to die early and strangely enough that led him to make choices that were much more lifestyle oriented. So for instance, he finished his training in oncology or cancer medicine and he got offered an incredibly lucrative job in private practice, but it would’ve been very time consuming, very busy. Instead he passed that up and worked at the VA at Northwestern Hospital, which was more of a pleasure for him. It was more his academic urges, but he also knew he wouldn’t have to spend every moment of the day doing it.

So the point being that I believe my dad probably made some choices based on what he thought would be dying early. He chose a lifestyle in some ways that maybe he wouldn’t have. So I had a skewed version, I think, partly. And then he died when I was seven so I didn’t see him doing this as an adult or even a teenager, it was really just as a little kid.

Steve: Did you learn about your dad’s sense that he might die young from your mother or from your father directly?

Doc G: I did from my mother. And so I have very few recollections of my father because he died when I was young. But I have the stories. And so he told my mom when they got married he didn’t think he was going to live long. And interestingly enough he kind of planned his life in preparation for that. And that’s one of those lessons I carry through into the book too.

Steve: Right. I’ve had a couple friends that have had this same sense and unfortunately for one of them it came true. But do you have that sense for yourself because of your legacy with your father?

Doc G: No, I’m actually the opposite. I’ve always felt deep down in my heart that I would live a fairly long life and be the exact opposite. As sad as it is, I’ve always worried that I would see a lot of people I love die before I did. But who knows? I realize when it comes to this, and I think financial planning really ties into this, we don’t know what reality will be. We don’t know if we’ll live today, tomorrow, next month, next year or still be here in 40 years. But we do know what scares us and I think sometimes that’s our best proxy.

So my dad, it kind of scared him that he would die early and not experience life so he lived accordingly and started to experience life maybe sooner than someone like me, who part of my worry is that maybe I’ll make it to a ripe old age and die broke. So I’ve made decisions, especially about my financial life, that take that into account. I might be right or I might be wrong, but at least I’m addressing my fears.

Steve: Yeah, I think it’s interesting how for your father, he could keep that in mind. For many people they don’t want to think about the mortality, they don’t think about it, they actively avoid thinking about it. But having in your mind definitely influences how you use your scarce resource, your non-renewable resource, your time.

Doc G: Yeah, and I think that’s such an important issue and I think that’s central to why I wrote this book is we deny this idea of death because it’s scary. But on the other hand, it can be essential in helping us make decisions both financial and otherwise now. And it’s actually a window that the dying have that’s a gift that I wish a lot of us who weren’t anywhere near dying could start using that gift to start making better decisions, because who wants to wait till they’re being seen by a hospice doctor who says you have four to six months to live to then try to say, “Okay, now I have four to six months to accomplish everything that I’ve been too scared to do.” What if we did this in our twenties or thirties?

Steve: Right. One of my coworkers earlier on shared an exercise around how would you think differently if you had 10 years to live, three years to live, a year, a month, a week? If you ask yourselves those questions and what you’d prioritize, I think it’s shocking for most people.

Doc G: I think most of us don’t really do the hard work of trying to figure out what is our true identity and what gives us a sense of purpose. Exercises that are wonderful because they really crystallize in people’s minds, okay, what’s most essential? And again, it’s something we don’t want to think about. I think it’s much easier to say, “Eh, I have plenty of time.” It’s much harder to say, “No, no, I’ve got to do this hard work right now.”

Steve: Yeah, I see this in our community. I mean, since our community is biased towards people that are late career, approaching retirement, I think many folks have a much stronger sense. They get to 50 and they’re like, “Hey, I can see that life isn’t going to go on forever.” Or their parents are getting sick or they’re passing away or their friends or whatnot. But still, for many people they don’t want to think about it too much. But if you really step back and you look at your life expectancy, it’s going to be around 80 if you’re healthy or mid-eighties if you’re female maybe. But your health span is another big part of this. How much can you be active? You might think you’re one way at 30, 40, 50 and your body’s changing and it’s good to be aware of that.
I think a lot of folks that are really optimizing for I’m going to have plenty of money when I’m potentially a hundred, but look at the average 85 to a 100 year old, they’re not living life the way you probably are when you’re having these questions.

Doc G: One of the things that hits me is, let’s say you are doing well in your career and then in your fifties or sixties you start seeing people die around you, you’re dealing with your own parents’ issues, and you say, “Oh, life is finite. I need to start thinking about these things.” That’s great, but what about from 20 to 60? What were you doing with yourself? I mean, most people say, “Well, I was building a financial framework that would support me,” but why not start putting these things first earlier and then building your financial framework around them as opposed to waiting until someday when you have enough money to start thinking about what you actually want. The worst case scenarios, like my dad, you die at 40 and never get there. The best case scenario if you put this off is you do get to 50 or 60, then you start doing what you want. But again, you had all those in between years where maybe you could have been engaged in things that were more meaningful for you.

Steve: For sure, balance is super important. We’re definitely going to dive into that a little bit more as we go in your book. So for your book, we talked about the why, in terms of the three big things you’d like people to take away from it, what are those?

Doc G: I think essentially if you were going to take my book and crystallize it into three main steps, I think the first step is we need to think about purpose, identity, and connections first. I use those three terms. Maslow would call this self-actualization, happiness researchers would call it emotional wellbeing or life satisfaction. This is that idea of happiness or contentedness. I think we have to figure out what has meaning for us first. Then step two is let’s be real intentional about our finances. We know it’s important to us, now let’s build a financial framework around it.

And then last but not least, and we touched on this a little bit, the third step is to say what scares me more, this idea of dying young and not being able to enjoy whatever wealth I’ve accumulated or this idea of dying old and running out of money?

The reason why that question is so important is almost every day in our lives we have to decide between YOLO, you only live once, I’ve got money let’s spend it and do something that’s really important to us, versus deferred gratification, I could live to 85 or 90 and I need to make sure that my retirement is robust enough to carry me to that age. That is a day to day decision we have to make and there’s no real good answers on how to specifically know what’s the right thing to do. All I think we can do is look at what our greatest fears are and then toggle our plans based on that. And so I think those are the three steps.

Steve: Got it. What about your greatest aspirations? Should you be thinking about that too?

Doc G: I think that’s a big part of purpose. So when you’re doing the exercises that help you realize what purpose is, and I cover some of these in the book, but this idea is who do we want to be as people? And that’s really a time for us to be aspirational. What has true purpose for us? Even if it’s something we feel like we could never obtain, who do we want to be? The whole point is not necessarily that we get to that final goal, because in my true belief a lot of happiness is actually being on the climb towards that goal. So I think our aspirations have to be part of that first calculation of what has purpose, meaning, and identity for us.

Steve: Got it. Yeah, definitely it’s the journey. So it feels like your book is driven by and highly informed by your experiences dealing with people who are at the end of their lives and passing away and having come to a quote, unquote, Jesus moment where they’re like, “Okay, what’s this all been about? What do I regret?” And it feels like for a lot of the experiences, it’s about their regrets that they had used their time differently and used their lives different lives differently. Do you also run into people that are happy and feel like, hey, I made good decisions and I really did lean into purpose and I feel like I’ve got something really good done with my life and I’m leaving something good behind?

Doc G: All the time. And in fact, you know what, the stories just aren’t as fun. So you don’t necessarily read them in my book and you don’t hear people talking about them, but there are plenty of people who actually lived very meaningful, purposeful lives and make it to the end of life happy. There are also people who do have regrets and then are lucky enough in those last few months to mend some of those things that didn’t go right. I use the term the deus ex machina, this is the idea of the unexpected plot twist at the end of a movie or play that makes everything right. Well, when we wait to the end of our lives to look at our regrets, what we’re really doing is we’re hoping for that end of life plot twist that makes it all right. But there are plenty of people who don’t need that because they’ve been real intentional about their lives from the beginning and they tend to die quietly and peacefully.

Steve: Yep, that’s interesting. It does take real work to be thoughtful and considerate of what you’re really trying to spend your time on and how you’re investing your time and your money and then live your life accordingly and check yourself as you go. It’s not simple. Are there any great exercises that you have for folks for thinking about purpose and getting to that?

Doc G: Yeah, there are definitely a number of them. The most simple that I like to talk about when it comes to purpose is what’s called a life review. Now we do life review with our hospice patients, so once we admit a hospice patient we get them physically comfortable, we figure out where they’re going to spend their last days. We all kind of do that background work, make sure their nausea is controlled, all that kind of good stuff. But at some point, a doctor, a nurse, a chaplain or social worker sits down with the person and will allot an hour or two to talk to people about their lives and ask basic questions like what was important to you during life? What are some of the big landmarks? What did you achieve? What didn’t you achieve? Who are the people who are most important to your life? What are your regrets today?

If you know have four months left what types of things do you think are achievable and what will they mean to you? What will your legacy be? It’s a series of questions and you go through it in a structured manner and really talk to people about their lives. The question is, why don’t we do that when we’re much younger? We should be doing this life review process once a year starting in our twenties to really crystallize and put front and center what’s important to us. So the real simple visualization technique that you can do, at least ask yourself this question in a second and then really meditate on it for the next few days is, imagine yourself lying in your deathbed bemoaning your life and saying, “I really regret that I never had the energy, courage, or time to…” and then fill in the blank. And whatever comes next probably is a big part of your purpose.

It’s a real easy starter exercise. I’m trying to think, okay, what are the things that I’ve been putting off or have been too scared to think about doing? Maybe I’m scared of failure, maybe I’m scared that I don’t have the time or the money. Often, maybe it’s coming to terms with the fact that I better do this now really makes me realize life is finite and I don’t want to think about death. I don’t want to think about an end. It’s much easier to put this off till later. I think that’s a really good starting exercise.

Steve: Yeah, I love that. So what don’t you have the energy, courage, or time to do or get done? It is interesting how we wait until we have nothing left to lose to do these things. It’s like why aren’t we doing this earlier? It does make a lot of sense.

Doc G: And realize this. Getting a terminal diagnosis sucks, right? No one wants to be in the room that day when the hospice doctor walks in. But the one slim bit of good news is when you find out you’re dying, it gives you permission to take that weight off your back of societal pressures. It gives you that permission to stop being afraid of failure and actually look what you want in the face. We rarely get that permission in life. We rarely give ourselves that permission to just drop all the BS and say however ridiculous it is out loud, this is what’s important to me. I think it’s hard, it’s hard to do that until some of those reigns are taken off and that’s what happens when you’re given a terminal diagnosis. No one blames you if you’re a little ridiculous after you’ve been told you’re going to die.

We need the courage to be “ridiculous” (quote, unquote), earlier where we just need to throw it all out there and say this is what we want.

Steve: Right. I was at a conference and a speaker got up and he shared the story about he’s like, “Look around you. There’s a bunch of people who are 50,” or around that age, and he’s like, “If you’re a 50 year old male, and look to your right and left there’s a couple other guy guys near you that are about the same age, if you project forward into your seventies or early seventies, only two thirds of you will make it that far.” If you look at the actuarial tables, it’s pretty interesting. No one thinks about this, but if you look at the actuarial tables, we talk about life expectancy, oh, your life expectancy is out here. Well, half the people died before that and half lived longer.
And if you start looking at the people who died before, you’re like, “Oh wow, these people are…” and they’re dying on the whole spectrum, people get early terminal, they get accidents or whatever, and whatever happens. But if you really look at that, it’s kind of eye-opening, and think about it that way, you kind of narrow the view to a few people around you, it starts to get very real.

Doc G: And again, it’s hard to come to terms with these things until you’re stuck with it yourself.

Steve: Yep. Okay, well let’s move on to the next part, thinking about financial independence and getting control of your money, so you made that number two. And why do you think that’s so important for people?

Doc G: Well, it’s really easy to say we have to start working on our passions and our purpose and identity and meaning and just totally allow the other part to lapse. The truth is money is a tool, not a goal, but a tool and getting our financial structure in place will actually provide that framework that will allow us to pursue our purpose, identity and connections. It’s one of many tools. So we have our intelligence, we have our community, we have our time, we have our grace. There’s all sorts of other tools we have. So even if you have no money you can start working on the things that are important to you. But money helps. If you have a certain number of time slots in life, we can’t change time, we can’t buy it, we can’t sell it, time passes no matter what we do.

So I like to look at life as a series of time slots. Money is a tool that allows you to pay other people to do things for you. So instead of filling that time slot with cleaning your bathroom, you can fill that time slot with something that has more meaning for you. Money’s a great tool to do that. So we do have to look at our financial structure. All of us, every single one of us, regardless of where you are in life, I think should strive towards some form of financial independence. How fast you get there and what you do on the way is completely up to you. But I think we should at least have that framework in place.

In your own life, did you have a great way of structuring this or measuring progress towards getting the financial independence?

Doc G: So I had no idea what financial independence was until in the midst of horrible medical burnout I was in my office and Jim Dahle, the White Coat Investor, sent me his book to review for my medical blog. I read it in 2014 and I said, “Holy cow, I’m financially independent.” I didn’t even know I was. So I didn’t have any goals up to that point because I just didn’t know what it was. My goal was I’m burned out in medicine, I need to get away somehow, but I didn’t know what that would look like.

Steve: Did you really like his book?

Doc G: I did and I found that it gave me the vocabulary that I had never had before. And that was the issue, is that I knew that I wanted to retire, I knew that I had money saved up, I knew that I had investments, but I didn’t know how to actually start to calculate what is even a concept of enough and how do we measure it.

Steve: Got it. He’s done a lot of heavy lifting and I know he’s a part of Bogelheads and so forth and been on the podcast, we’ll point back to his work as well. That’s awesome. All right, well let’s move on to the last part of it. So you really focus on the main thing that people wish for when they are at the end of their lives and that’s more time and looking back and wishing they’d allocated their time differently. Any big insights that jump out at you?

Doc G: Certainly. So almost no one at the end of life says, “I wish that I’d worked more nights and weekends.” Almost no one says, “I had this goal of a net worth of a million dollars and I only made it up to $500,000.” So basically money only comes into play when there’s such a lack of money that it’s disrupting their care at the end of life. Otherwise it’s filled with all these other things. How did you spend your time? What did you put in those time slots? And in a sense, what will your legacy be? And I think that’s what’s really on people’s mind when they get to this point in life.

Steve: Money does matter, I mean it can change the course of their heirs’ life. My father’s partner passed away recently and she worked her whole life, never made a huge amount of money but saved diligently and built up this store of wealth and actually had more income in retirement than she had when she was working, which is kind of amazing. Unfortunately, she died young, she retired and was retired for a handful of years and then got cancer and passed away. But the work she did to save the money has changed, she gave it to other folks in her life, and some of the younger people that got a chunk of it, it can change their lives if they take good care of it because they actually may not have to save nearly as much for retirement or go into as much debt.

And then that frees them up to make other decisions. I think one of the most important things is that they saw someone make good long-term decisions about their money over the course of their lives and how it changed their life, and so they don’t have to hopefully relearn those painful lessons that people that weren’t financially literate have to learn, which is about how to save, how to invest, how to keep these low, how to not screw yourself by selling at the bottom and buying at the top, all those things.

Doc G: I mean, I’ve met people who are fabulously rich and miserable, and people who had barely enough to put dinner on the table and were happier than many others. Money works really well when you see it as a tool to use towards other life goals. I think those people who have good stewardship over money and recognize it for what it is, highly benefit from its presence.

Steve: Right, you’re raising two huge points. Be really thoughtful of your time, think about your purpose, but also with regard to money don’t obsess over it as some magical thing but think of it as a tool that enables other parts of your life.

Doc G: Money solves basic money problems, but it won’t make you happy. So use it to solve those money problems and move on.

Steve: Right, a hundred percent. So one last thing on the last section of the book, I saw one of the areas is called Changes for the Living But Not the Dying. Can you elaborate on that?

Doc G: Certainly, and this goes back to a little of what I was talking about before. It happens so often that we get patients on hospice and that’s the first time they really start thinking about their needs and wants. And what we need is a last minute plot twist to fix things. So I’ll give you a perfect example. I was a volunteer during my first week of medical school working in the hospice floor at Northwestern University, and this was in the 1990s so HIV and AIDS were a major killer in the United States at the time, and I was taking care of an HIV patient who was comfortable. He was surrounded by his partner and his friends. He was really looking like he was going to die what I would call a quote, unquote, good death. The one thing missing in his life is when his family found out he was gay, they kicked him out of the house, and this was 20 years ago and he hadn’t seen them since.

And so on his dying bed he talked to the chaplain. The chaplain called his parents who lived all of 20 miles away and they actually came to his bedside and were with him when he died, the first time in 20 years. His partner next to his parents, next to his friends, it was like all the bits of his life came together. It actually happened, but it’s rare. It’s that deus ex machina, it’s that last minute plot twist. Change is for the living not for the dying. We can try to fix everything in the last six months of your life, but why don’t we start working on all this stuff now? Why didn’t this HIV patient patch things up 10 or 15 years ago where maybe he could have had so many more meaningful experiences with his family and it wouldn’t have to be this traumatic last minute change. We’ve got to start working on this stuff before we’re given that permission of being terminally ill. We’ve got to start doing this much earlier.

Steve: Right. Wow, that’s a powerful story. That’s crazy. It’d be interesting to talk to the family afterwards and see if they reassessed their choices as well in the last 20 years.

Doc G: Yeah, and we’re humans, we’re fallible. We make mistakes, we get mad at loved ones. And part of the gift, I think, also of the terminally ill is investing in all these personal qualities which are important and forgiveness is a big one of them. And I think that’s especially important in this case, is reconciliation and forgiveness are big investments in our life and we often forget to make them until we have to.

Steve: Yeah, it feels like our whole country could learn that lesson. We’re swinging the pendulum of, hey, 9/11 and everyone’s aligned and we have a common enemy, we can all come together. And now it feels like the country’s completely polarized and people have forgotten, hey, we’re all neighbors and live in the same country. Most people, if you go around on Twitter, you’re going to look one way, in social media you see the world one way amplified through the technological lens. But if you actually hung out with somebody who has a completely different political view from you, you’d probably find they’re actually not that different from you. They have similar concerns and desires as you do.

Doc G: Yeah, one of the things I talk about at the end of the book is my investing tips from a hospice doctor. And most of these have nothing to do with money. One of the things we shouldn’t invest in are what I call the false gods and money are and power are those. I mean we spend a lot of time as human beings. Certainly some of us do at least, really investing our time and energy and our intentions on building up power and money, and I think it’s a false God. I think it’s one of those things that actually doesn’t serve us in the end. And when you die what kind of legacy are you going to leave? Sometimes that leads us to leave not the best legacy.

Steve: So when you were writing Taking Stock, or after you wrote it, did you have any single massive insight into your own life?

Doc G: There are really two big insights that came out during this whole process. I made a mistake. I didn’t really consider meaning and purpose and identity at the beginning of my career. And I think it was a big reason I became burned out. If I had been more thoughtful and if I had followed these steps in the book, I probably would’ve realized that I should’ve done hospice medicine from the start of my career as opposed to at the tail end of my career. And funny enough, I probably would’ve been paid a lot less money because it wasn’t as lucrative. I probably wouldn’t have hit financial independence, but my career would’ve been probably longer and I probably would’ve enjoyed it more.

So it’s really interesting this idea of if I had been more thoughtful and had followed my own steps, I probably would’ve had a whole different career trajectory. And I think that for me was a huge epiphany, and of course it’s always hard to Monday morning quarterback it and go back because you were where you were because you needed to be. And I’m thankful that I ended up in this personal finance world and able to write this book, but it’s a kind of sobering look at how I ended up a burned out physician.

Steve: Well it’s good that you are able to gain these insights from doing it. And do you feel like you’re living your full life right now, the best life for you?

Doc G: So I was one of those people who my bigger fear was living long and running out of money. So I front loaded the sacrifice. I really grounded out and worked hard. The upside to that is over the last few years I’ve really been able to spend my time doing exactly what I want to do. So I won’t say that I love every moment of my life right now, but 99% of the things that I fill up my time with are of my choice. So I love podcasting. There are sometimes when I get tired of doing the editing or get tired of doing the social media promotion, but I chose this and I can step away from any of it at any time. And so that feels like an exceedingly powerful thing at this point in my life. And so as of today, the things I’m doing feel like the things I want to do for the rest of my life. That may change, but I’m very contented with this idea of I know what the next week, month, and year look like and that excites me.

Steve: That’s awesome. Last topic on the book, what’s your hope for the book? What do you want it to… any goals that you have around it in terms of like sales or impact?

Doc G: So I’d love, obviously, the book to sell millions, et cetera, but I don’t really have any financial goals because I don’t really need them. As I go further and further, I really hope this book finds people who are struggling today with what role money plays in their life. Whether you are struggling to put dinner on the table or whether you are long financially independent and yet are struggling with a sense of what is my purpose in life and what do I do now? I think these are big topics and I think this window of dealing with the dying on the regular basis has given me insight that I so much just want to share with people and say, “Look, we only have this one life and we can avert our eyes and not think about the difficult things and then wait for time to pass or we can start addressing what’s important to us now.”

So my big goal is just to get it into the hands of people who need it, who need this message, who are struggling with what money means to them and to start living a little bit more of a purposeful life that feels better to them.

Steve: Well, I think I’m really looking forward to… I’ve read part of it… but reading more of your book, and it does feel like it’s great to see folks like you, Jim Dahle the White Coat Investor, Sam Dogen from Financial Samurai, Morgan Housel, he wrote The Psychology of Money, JL Collins, there are these folks out there in the personal finance space that have done a ton of writing, interacted with hundreds of thousands or millions of people, gotten these views and really distilled their messages down and then are now turning these things into books that are selling. Many of these folks are selling a ton of books because there’s so much knowledge that’s embedded in these things. So I hope that Taking Stock follows in those footsteps and helps millions of people.

Doc G: Thank you, I do too.

Steve: Quick thoughts for your own life in terms of how you think it might unfold in the next five years, 10 years?

Doc G: So again, I’m interested in that interesting place that I really like what I do day to day. My goal is to continue building on what I’m doing now and then be open to life and the challenges it brings, to find even new senses of purpose in other new things. That’s the wonderful thing about purpose is it can change. You can have a purpose that lasts a week, a month, a year, a lifetime, and there’s always something exciting over the horizon. So I look forward to the new challenges and the new ways of filling my time in meaningful ways for me and for my family and my community.

Steve: Well, it’s great that you’re being so thoughtful about it. All right, well this has been super good. Thanks, Jordan, for being on our show. To our audience, thanks for listening. Our goal at NewRetirement is to help anyone plan and manage their finances so they can make the most of their money and time. And if you made it this far, definitely check out Jordan’s site, and we’ll link to it, or Earn and Invest. And also his new book, Taking Stock, and will also link to that. And then if you want, check out our site and planning tools at or you can find us on Facebook. There’s an active group of now over 11,000 people talking about these topics.

Also, Jordan has his own group as well that you can find. You can also see us on Twitter. And then the last thing would be both Jordan and I love reviews because we love feedback. So for this podcast, his podcast or his book, those are super welcome and make a big difference. So with that, thank you and have a great day.

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