Reviewing Our Attitude About Money

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Physician's Money Digest, February 2007, Volume 14, Issue 2

From time to time we all need tostop and count our blessings. Wehave made it through anotherhumbling year of practicing medicine,and, for most of us, we have maintainedfinancial stability. But while we areworking so hard to make and preservemoney, it benefits us to realize that thisincreasing economic asset base reallyjust exists to help us achieve happinessfor ourselves and our families. In fee-basedmedical practice, however, thereis an obvious relationship between timespent working and income achieved, sowe are always making hard choicesabout balancing our priorities in life.Too often we make these choicesunconsciously, and that lack of recognitioncan make you unhappy.

Money Maker, Time Taker

Although money is often pegged asthe root of all evil, it is actually the blindpursuit of it that deserves this moniker.I recently tried to make the philosophicalpoint to a wealthy CEO friend thatit wasn't that huge resources were sodesirable as much as the complete lackof them was so undesirable. Once a personsucceeds in covering the basics,increasing wealth has less and less to dowith whether or not you are happy.True, money offers us access to opportunities,but access doesn't guaranteegood choices or happiness. In response,however, my friend just looked at mecoldly. He had made his choices.

When considering what will makethe average doctor happy, most of usfactor in quality of life: time with yourfamily and friends, hobbies, communityactivities, and other things that yielda life well-lived. So how and where dowe strike the balance?

Personal Asset Allocation

A doctor I know asked me where Ifound the time to do my extracurricularactivities. I told him that when I made adecision to diversify mytime, I took a pencil andmarked out my schedule.He, either by habit,necessity, or variance ofvalues, could not seereducing his schedule as apossibility. Of course,people in the same professionhave differing perspectives, andthis is just one instance that illustratesthe disparities in how doctors, likeeveryone else, make different choices.What are yours?

Have you ever noticed how we compareour accomplishments to those ofour friends and colleagues, and how thiscompetition is a powerful social andfinancial motivator? Ask yourself whatis really motivating you to put in longhours at the expense of potential personaltime. What matters here is not whatbalance you strike betweenliving life andmaking money, butrather taking the timeto reflect on how andwhy you have madecertain life decisions.Ultimately, identifyingour motivators, andfeeling comfortable with them, is partof what will not only give us financialsecurity, but happiness as well.