My Why: family, friends, and freedom

by The Darwinian Doctor

Today I discuss the “Why” that drives me towards financial independence.

The Patient

I had a patient recently who, at the young age of 32, is facing cancer.  This particular type of cancer usually strikes 70 year old men who smoke, so I was really surprised when I discovered it.  To top it off, his young wife has recently beaten thyroid cancer as well! I guided my patient through his diagnosis and the surgical treatment of his cancer, and thankfully he’s now cancer free.

With the hundreds of patients I see every week, it’s easy to dismiss something like this and move on.  In medicine, it doesn’t pay to ruminate on every remarkable occurence. If you do, you run the risk of getting bogged down and paralyzed with the surprising frequency of these events.  

But this patient really made an impression on me.  It was a harsh reminder that that life is short, and for some people, it’s going to be much shorter than average.  

My realization

I’ve talked about my plan to achieve financial independence within 15 years 10 years.  Much of my desire to achieve FI is to ensure financial stability for my family and loved ones.  There were dark times of scarcity in my childhood that I’d like to avoid for my family and future descendents.  

Well, I’ve realized that even though it doesn’t feel like it, we’re financially stable already. We’ve got a strong financial position that will insulate us against near term financial disaster. And if we changed nothing about our jobs and lives, we’ll very likely retire with plenty of resources to support our retirement and future generations of Darwinians.  Inertia is a powerful thing, and thankfully we’re currently headed in the right direction.  

The next phase

But my focus has now turned towards the next phase of our financial evolution.

Despite my surgeon’s income, I’m very much handcuffed to my job.  If I stop working, my cash flow goes kaput and our 15 year plan goes out the window.

While I feel so lucky for my income, I don’t enjoy the 12 hour workdays and 24 hour overnight calls that make me miss dinner with the kids and important school events. I often teeter on the brink of burnout (and I’m not alone).

I picked up my five year old son the other night, and his lanky height surprised me.  “How big you’ve gotten,” I thought to myself. Kids are only young once, and sadly I’m missing a lot of these precious years.

So what’s next?

Well, we’ve decided to shoot for early financial independence. How early? Early enough that in just five years, I’ll be able to spend more time on the things that matter most.

My Why

Every big goal needs an even bigger motivation. It needs a big Why.

Here’s mine:

I want the ability to spend more time with my kids, see my friends when and where I want, and have the freedom to travel the world for months at a time. 

How do we get there?

This will come as no surprise to recent readers of my blog, but I think the answer lies in real estate. My research has convinced me that cash flow generating rental real estate is likely to have a better long term return than stocks.  And in the short term, I think it offers me the best chance of breaking the golden handcuffs and gaining more freedom in my day to day life.

So in the last 6 months, I’ve started to purchase rental properties. Things are moving along faster than I expected. To keep the momentum going, I’m taking a real estate course offered by the powerhouse couple behind the Semi Retired MD blog.  


Time is precious.  We don’t know how long we have on this Earth, and there’s no time like the present to start moving full speed ahead towards your goals.  The first step in reaching your goals is to define your Why.  

My Why involves family, friends, and freedom. To get there, I’m going to use real estate.

I’ll have a lot to report about this real estate course, and I’ll bring you along for the ride as I evolve into a more professional real estate investor. 

2020 is shaping up to be an exciting year.


What drives you to achieve your goals? What’s your Why? Comment below, and subscribe for more updates!

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4 years ago

As a radiologist I see some cases which shock me completely (female in her early 20s with metastatic colon cancer comes to mind as well as breast cancer cases in that age range too).

As badness is discovered in patients that are now younger than me it can be an eye opener.

Congrats on finding your why. I consider myself FI now at age 48 (probably hit it at 47) and a lot of it is because of real estate as well (although I do it via syndications and not direct ownership).

Loonie Doctor
4 years ago

Hi Darwinian Doctor. My “why” is the same and seeing more patients my own age dying (I do ICU) definitely played a role. I am now at the point of scaling back aggressively at age 44. My only caution would be to not completely sacrifice the next few years with little kids by working more hours. Building passive income like you suggest and avoiding spending that doesn’t bring lasting happiness seem to be the better parts of the FI equation to leverage.

4 years ago

I keep thinking that there has to be a different solution for our generation to “have it all”. Why shouldn’t you be able to enjoy being a doctor and have time with your kids? Why should hospitals be so badly staffed that you are at the mercy of whoever makes the schedule that week?
Doctors are not gods or superhuman, so why are they expected to work 80-120 hour weeks?
Only doctors can change this system. Even those dropping out should work towards improving the system.

Kat Rucker
3 years ago

Thank you so much for all the work that you do! It is crazy to me that doctors are expected to work such crazy hours when other professions have more mandatory rest periods due to fear of mistakes/burn out! I am glad that you will be shifting gears in the next few years to spend more time with the family and I’m glad to hear that real estate is turning out so well so fast!


[…] Why does financial indepdendence appeal to you? Have you identified your “why”? The Darwinian Doctor has. Caring for cancer patients younger than you can have that effect. My Why: Family, Friends, and Freedom. […]

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