Have the Courage to Change Your Life | Letters to My Sons

by The Darwinian Doctor

This is a letter to my sons about my journey to financial freedom in which I discuss having the courage to change your life.

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“Letters to my sons” is a series of posts where I write to my two young sons, with the hopes that they’ll be reading these letters in about a decade.

This letter is about having the courage to change your life.

Dear sons,

It’s been about 4 years since I started marching towards financial independence.  Currently, it’s early 2022 and you’re four and seven years old. I love seeing you both growing up into funny, curious, and smart kids.

When I started down this path, it was a response to feeling handcuffed to my job, my commute, and my income.  I wanted more:  more time, more freedom, and more life on my own terms.  I wanted the ability to see you and my friends when I wanted, not just in the few weeks a year that I got off for vacation or on weekends when I wasn’t on call. 

So I started learning about wealth building and investing.  I crafted a 15 year plan for financial freedom and started a blog to record my progress.  It was a year until I bought our first rental property and another year before I got your mom on board with the plan.  

Since we joined forces, things have accelerated quickly.  We built our rental empire to 24 units, and then took it to the next level this year with the addition of two luxury short term rentals.

Now, just a few years into this adventure,  I think we’re already about halfway to our goal of financial independence.   We’re still waiting to see the full fruits of our labor, but things are looking good for substantial cash flow by the end of this year.

But nothing is simple in life. I’m starting to realize that the harder part might be actually taking advantage of our newfound freedom.

Let me explain…

Words to live by

I listen to a lot of podcasts and books on my daily commute.  I hope you avoid having a commute when you’re older, but the protected time is a good chance to listen to books and podcasts.  There’s so much concentrated wisdom out there, and it’s more accessible now than ever before.  

I’ve been influenced recently by Naval Ravikant, a venture capitalist turned philosopher.  He writes a lot about a life well lived, which is a topic near and dear to my heart.  I was struck in particular by this passage:

“When you’re young, you have time.  You have health, but you have no money.  When you’re middle aged, you have health, but you have no time. When you’re old, you have money and you have time, but you have no health.  So the trifecta is trying to get all three at once. 

By the time people realize they have enough money, they’ve lost their time and their health.”

Naval Ravikant, The Almanack of Naval Ravikant

Health but no time

You boys are young now, so it must be really difficult to see where we are on Naval’s spectrum of wealth, time, and health.  But he’s pretty spot on.  Your mom and I are middle aged and still have health, but very little time.  

You might not remember this by the time you read this, but we’ve spent most weekends and vacations recently in Palm Springs, renovating, painting, and setting up our short term rental.  Needless to say, it’s sucked up all our extra time recently.  

This hustle in both our day jobs and side businesses has definitely built our net worth, but it’s come at the cost of rest and relaxation.

Turning 40 is rough

As far as health… your mom and I have avoided any real issues so far, but I definitely feel my years now. 

Have you noticed the grays in my hair and the extra padding around my midsection?  Did you know that if I sit on the ground to play with you, I get stabbing pains in my back when I stand up?

Ten hour work days with a two hour commute doesn’t leave much time for working out, which is absolutely essential to keep healthy.  I do my best on the weekends, but I really believe that humans should be exercising every day.  

I hope that when you’re older, you exercise every day.  If you aren’t, I hope you can change your situation so you can work this into your life.

My job as a surgeon shows me that it’s foolish to take health for granted.  I don’t know how old you are as you’re reading this, but health can be fleeting. I see too many young patients with cancer or chronic illnesses that steal their health away from them almost overnight.

Have the courage to change your life

I’ve started making some tentative moves towards rectifying this imbalance. As I mentioned, the whole purpose of our investing and real estate is to buy time freedom.  Just as Naval wrote, we want to find the trifecta of time, health, and money.  So far we’ve got health and I’m beginning to suspect we’ve got enough money.  We just need more time!

But it’s really tricky knowing when to start rocking the boat.  

So far, I’ve made some small changes to my schedule to draw my work schedule down closer to 100%.  This is a lot better than the 50-60 hours I was doing previously.

I feel that I’m home for breakfast and dinner more often now. I like that most nights I’m around to help with your bedtime routine too.  

But I have to admit, I’m still stretched really thin.  Managing the real estate empire, writing about everything on my blog, and teaching people on TikTok – it’s made me busier than ever!

I’ve come to realize that I need to draw down my day job further to make room for everything else, but it’s not so simple.  As much as I’ve embraced my new identity as an investor, educator, and content creator, I’m a physician at heart.  

If I draw down further, I worry about the negative effect on my patients, my colleagues, and my medical group.  I’m losing sleep over this conundrum, but I feel that a reckoning is coming.  I hope to have it figured out within the next 3-6 months.  

If you run into a similar situation like mine, I hope you have the courage to change your life. I hope you can make the tough choices and live the life of your dreams.  Until then, I guess it’s up to me to practice what I preach.



What do you want to say to your kids? What tough transitions are coming your way? Let me know below and please subscribe for more!

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9 months ago

I come back to that Naval quote all the time. It slaps me in the face. If I say that family is most important, then why am I spending my time doing {everything else that doesn’t make them my top priority}?

Like you, I am buying back my time while growing a business and spending time reading and taking care of my health.

My best friend died from a brain tumor in his mid-40s. It was a wake-up call. It could be any of us. Create and build a daily life that you don’t need to escape from.

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