Page Turner

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The main tension in my pursuit of early retirement is quite simple (and enviable I’ll concede.)

I love my job.

And it’s not just that I like what I do during the day. (I get a kick out of shooting the breeze with my patients and getting to know them and finding out what’s troubling them. I love performing the variety of procedures that I perform to help them. I love working with other healthcare providers towards common and unambiguously worthwhile goals.)

It’s also that my chosen career had such a long period of training. To be precise I studied and trained for 11 years after finishing college to become what I am today.

So I’m not being disingenuous when I say that if I won the lottery today, I would not quit my job tomorrow.

I have written about this paradox before in this post. The main message being that working for the sake of working is a far different (and presumably more enjoyable) thing from working for the sake of money. And so I suspect financial independence would make my work even more meaningful.

But lately I’ve been fast forwarding in my mind 10 or 15 years to the point in time when I’ve already hit my number. And I’m seriously wondering whether or not I may in fact retire early when I reach financial independence.

And the reason for this is not because I expect to enjoy my work any less. It is because I am plagued by this nagging suspicion that there are not enough hours, or days, or weeks, or months left on this earth.

There are so many things that I wish to do.

And right now my life just feels so completely full between my working, and spending time with my family, and blogging, and reading, and playing the occasional round of golf.

I sleep about six or seven hours a night. And my days are always packed tight.

There are always five books that I am waiting to read. (Which is a simple thing for me to do during a week of vacation, but a tough thing for me to do during a month of my working life.)

I am dying to give myself the opportunity to write for 2 to 3 hours every day. For if this blog has taught me nothing else, it is that I love writing. (Which was a complete and utter surprise to me.)

Ever since I read this book I have been wanting to try my hand at running every day.

Plus I’d love to give myself the opportunity to grow some serious vegetables in my front and backyards.


Realistic depiction of me as an early retiree in my portland back yard?

And I find that why play golf more than twice a month, particularly when I play two or three times in the same week, my short game gets pretty dependable and I score better.

And I used to love drawing but I never do that anymore.

So despite my sincere belief in the power of small efforts repeated over time, I am growing impatient.

These are all things that I want to do right now (along with traveling more and sleeping more, and driving less.)

So early retirement begins to become something other than an escape hatch.

It becomes an open door that I just cannot wait to walk through.

I don’t see a life without employment.

I see a life filled with other things, triaged only by their intrinsic value to me.

A selfish time. Like summer vacation as a child.

But I try to take this impatience for freedom as a sign of progress.

For I think this means that I am not viewing my life as a treadmill that I cannot wait to get off of.

I think the best metaphor for my life since I began to pursue early retirement is something like this: my life is a well written novel. It’s a real page turner and I can’t wait to see what happens next.  And it’s so gripping and interesting that I keep on turning the pages each one faster than the next. And when I get to the last few pages I just have this feeling that my main regret will be that it all ended too soon.

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6 Responses to “Page Turner”

  1. Kat J June 16, 2014 at 5:46 am #


    I so appreciate the humanness in your blog. The ‘real-ness’ in your expression is refreshing and uplifting. Truth-sharers tend to be rare.

    I’m so happy you enjoy and take the time to create this space.

    ps I’ve recently taken up writing and joined a writers group with bi-weekly prompts and deadlines. Wowzers….not easy! But tis creative and frequently cathartic.

    • Miles Dividend M.D. June 16, 2014 at 10:02 am #

      Thanks Kat.

      Writing is fun, isn’t it?. The best part is the editing I think. Thoughts come out all jumbled and organizing them is quite cathartic.


  2. Mo June 16, 2014 at 3:01 pm #

    Maybe it could be a slow cutback on your hours? Maybe you could be an attending at a local university and still make a little income, have better hours. Maybe even do some consulting so you could stay on top of things. I don’t see myself abruptly stopping work even after FI. I would definitely cut back though. I love being a doc but man it’s so nice having free time to cultivate other things. Great post, thank you.

    • Miles Dividend M.D. June 16, 2014 at 8:58 pm #

      Those are all good options Mo.

      Thankfully I’ve got at least 10 years to figure it all out.

      One thing is for sure: there’s no point in retiring unless you have something worthwhile to retire to.


  3. Robert June 18, 2014 at 6:37 am #

    When my employer offered me the “opportunity” to retire early with severance package or accept a job change I didn’t want, I had to decide: keep working (and I, too, enjoyed many aspects of work, though I disliked some aspects mostly related to regulatory issues or office politics) or retire. It felt too early to retire, but what helped me take the plunge was to take the arguments for continuing to work and extrapolate them far into the future. Assume you enjoy your work, colleagues, etc. Assume you always will. Given those assumptions, when/why would you ever retire? If the reasons you now use to keep working are going to persist, then the same logic would make you never retire. I couldn’t see that as a sensible outcome/decision. So then the question became, what would I do during retirement? And if I didn’t know, when/how would I find out? In the end I decided that whatever I was going to do, I might as well get to work on figuring it out now rather than later. So I retired. Like you, I have many interests. I wish I could have many parallel lives! But it is nice to be able to explore new hobbies/avenues. As before, there are never enough hours in the day. You really do need multiple lives to fully explore all your interests. But it is a new chapter in life, different from the working one, and quite enjoyable.

    • Miles Dividend M.D. June 18, 2014 at 8:52 pm #

      That’s interesting Robert.

      It sounds like the combination of your good financial planning, plus an opportunity, made you fall into early retirement.

      Despite our diametrically opposed political sensibilities, I have a feeling we are very similar in our Attitudes towards work. We both love the work, and the ideas But maybe struggle sometimes with the political aspects? Perhaps I am just projecting my own Achilles’ heel onto you.

      In any case, it does not surprise me that there are not enough hours in the day, even after retirement.

      Parallel lives would be sweet.

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