Monday, October 21, 2013

Inner angst

The last few weeks since my return home have been difficult. Something really fundamental has shifted somewhere in my psyche and I am no longer content.

In fact I'm impatient.

Impatient to get on with my life and get out of the rut I find myself in. A rut that will take more than a little effort to climb out of.

Like many professional people my age I was able to enter the real estate market at a time when housing was affordable, and I now have assets worth up to 4 times what I paid for them. I also have no children to look out for me should I become infirm, so these assets are my way of ensuring I can grow old without financial worries.

I am a Taurus. I am not going to sell everything up for a "live life now" philosophy, my nature just won't allow it. There has to be a safety net, a backup plan should things go awry. I know what it's like to swing from monetary crisis to monetary crisis (it's happened in my own past as well as figuring highly as a causal factor in the poor health of many of my patients) and it is very unpleasant. I am not a free spirit.

Due to my investments over the years I have a lot of debt, and although I am receiving good income, I am not yet receiving enough to both reduce debt and provide a passive income. So the need to continue a paid job to reduce my debt remains.

I get paid quite well. I work for an NGO, I'm on a salary, I only work part time, but the pay is excellent. I could work more, but there lies the problem: I can't.

I seriously can not make myself work more shifts. I don't think I hate my job or workplace or anything, I'm just totally over the drudgery of going to work every day, listening to people's problems and helping them solve them. If I was to describe how I feel, it's boredom. It doesn't excite me, it doesn't challenge me, it bores me!!

Friends have suggested I might be happier in a different setting, working in private practice or something. No dears, seeing patients is the boring bit, and I can tell you that the medical scenarios I see working in Aboriginal health are a darn sight more interesting and challenging than "tears and smears" in mainstream general practice. Nup, I'm so over it.

I feel that I have given a large part of my life to a really good cause (caring for the first peoples of Australia) and am ready for something new. I certainly don't believe that I still owe anyone (especially not the government that provided me with a free education), that I have to keep being a doctor because that's what I'm trained to do. I think I've done my time, and I want to now expand my horizons.

I'm continuously befuddled by people who don't understand. Apparently doctors are seen as vocationally pure, that is, we want to be doctors till the day we die. Do we apply the same logic to teachers, nurses, carpenters, craftspeople, etc, many of whom have alternate careers?

I have to say, I still enjoy teaching, and am interested in policy, though appalled at the politics, of health care. One of the reasons I work part time is it gives me time to do teaching, although when I have attempted to expand this role I have not always been successful. Perhaps because I have been reluctant to reduce my clinical load knowing how much my knowledge and experience is appreciated. It's a fine line to walk indeed...

So here I am, coping with the drudgery of a paid job, but happily saving the pennies it brings in and watching the debt recede. I'm also trying to pass on the teaching culture and knowledge to some of my colleagues, so that they can carry on when I leave.

I'm staying until the end of 2014, mainly because of teaching commitments I've made. After that, I plan to be free.

I can't keep taking long holidays every year to stay sane. I have to get out of the mad house. These last few weeks have shown me this, that even long breaks are no longer working.

Please don't feel sorry for me. I'm perfectly capable of extricating myself from this predicament. And I'm putting it out there so that I don't waver in my commitment to get out of the rut.

By the end of 2014 I should have

  1. reduced my debt enough to be able to finance my travels from passive income.
  2. renegotiated the terms of any loans I still have so I am not forced to pay off principal as well as interest (it's a lot easier to renegotiate an interest only loan when you have a substantial pay check coming in). 
  3. trained up my colleagues to take over the supervision of training for medical students and GP registrars.
  4. sold some property to consolidate my income into the better performing properties and reduced my overall debt
  5. decided whether I will renovate and keep my beach house, or sell up and leave
Yes, number 5 is the big one! Do I keep my little piece of paradise in Drummond Cove, or do I cut myself loose? Selling would reduce my debt to zero, and would remove the angst of caring about whether someone was looking after a place I still had a close personal attachment to. I still don't know where I stand on this, but it's now a possibility in the equation, whereas six months ago I had not even contemplated the notion of giving it up. I guess it will depend on how my savings progress over the next few months as it may not become necessary. Then again, it may be what I need to truly cut myself free.

That gives me 15 months to get my shit together. Wish me luck!

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