Cat City

Where are you and where are you going?
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Green Pimble
Posts: 14
Joined: Thu Jan 14, 2021 8:16 pm

Cat City

Post by Green Pimble »

Welcome to my first ERE post!

I started working in 2017 in my home country, Australia, after a prolonged 10-year bout of university-meandering. Out of high school I wanted to study economics, then arts/humanities, then fine arts, then journalism, then biochemistry… eventually I landed in medicine and haven’t looked back. I enjoy working as a doctor and I’m currently specialising in Emergency Medicine. Treating people who come through the department, even the silly presentations (“Doc my thumb is itchy” — I wish I was joking), gives me a lot of satisfaction. My colleagues are friendly, and I have lots of autonomy to do what I think is right. My patients can be funny, personable, opinionated, interesting, and deeply moving. Being with them during some of their most difficult times is incredibly rewarding.

But…

I work too much! My life is too short to spend ~50 hours a week doing the one thing. I see people dying at work almost every day, and as a consequence have a more mature view of my own mortality than I used to. I don’t want to get to age 50, burst an aneurysm and end up in a nursing home, having spent the last 20 years doing nothing but work. Hence, ERE.

I consider my ERE journey beginning on the 28th of Feb 2019 when I bought by first ETF after several months of pre-reading about the FIRE movement. I moved on to ERE and devoured Jacob’s book, and since then have lurked the forums.

I have 3 years remaining in my Emergency Medicine training. Since 2019 I have bought an investment property, which is (just) positively geared, and invested ~$170,000 AUD in a 33/33/33 split of Australian/US/International ex-US ETFs. If everything had gone ‘according to plan’, I would be reaching a lean FIRE goal of ~$500,000 invested, for a $20,000 per annum 4% withdrawal rate, at the end of my training. This is enough for me to live happily on. Instead of quitting, however, the end of my training will mark a transition to part-time work with hours that suit me better.

Recently there has been a sort-of-spanner in the ERE-machine:

My partner hates her job in the office and wants to quit. She applied to university and was accepted to study Paramedicine. So over the next 3 years I’ll be supporting us both financially while she re-trains. This will obviously cause a set back in my savings, but my partner’s happiness is, to me, priceless (cheesy but true haha).

It has been helpful and healthy for me to read other people’s journals and reflect on their situations, setbacks, and successes. It keeps my mind limber and my horizons broad. I would like to contribute to the ERE community with this journal in the same spirit, hoping someone may benefit from hearing my thoughts, as I have from all of yours.

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unemployable
Posts: 630
Joined: Mon Jan 08, 2018 11:36 am
Location: Homeless

Re: Cat City

Post by unemployable »

Hi. I wrote this a couple years back:
unemployable wrote:
Thu Apr 25, 2019 10:20 pm
(By the way, does anyone else not envy doctors? You show up at the same damn hospital or practice every day for 30 years and deal with sick people. Your reward is you get to drive a two-year-old BMW home. You don't get to take business trips to hospitals in like San Francisco that at least get you out of the office and in front of other people in your field. Where's the fun there? Yeah, I went to high school with a guy who runs his own practice and is the team doctor for a professional sports team, but he's in like the top 5% of doctors. I digress... or not...)
Half a million dollarydoos with enough of a margin to withstand a minor correction is a nice threshold to cross.

Green Pimble
Posts: 14
Joined: Thu Jan 14, 2021 8:16 pm

Re: Cat City

Post by Green Pimble »

unemployable wrote:
Fri Jan 15, 2021 9:34 pm
...By the way, does anyone else not envy doctors?...
I understand medicine is very different in the US than in Australia, and doctors there graduate medical school with a truck-load of interest-bearing student loans to pay off. That must be very hard! We're much luckier here. I think my student loans were ~$60,000.

I certainly don't do my job solely for the money, and when you consider the hours I work, being assaulted by people on methamphetamine, the stress, night shifts etc. the renumeration doesn't always seem fair. But I do still enjoy it a lot :).
unemployable wrote:
Fri Jan 15, 2021 9:34 pm
Half a million dollarydoos with enough of a margin to withstand a minor correction is a nice threshold to cross.
It's all on track, except I don't much like being a landlord! I may look at selling the investment property and switching to pure equities... thoughts for the future I think.

Edited to add: another wonderful part about my job is some of the opportunities it brings. Within the next 3 or 4 years I will likely be able to apply for medical retrieval jobs: getting paid to jump out of helicopters onto cargo ships with sick passengers, or pick-up wounded people from the bush... What a blast! :D

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unemployable
Posts: 630
Joined: Mon Jan 08, 2018 11:36 am
Location: Homeless

Re: Cat City

Post by unemployable »

Green Pimble wrote:
Fri Jan 15, 2021 11:34 pm
Within the next 3 or 4 years I will likely be able to apply for medical retrieval jobs: getting paid to jump out of helicopters onto cargo ships with sick passengers, or pick-up wounded people from the bush... What a blast! :D
That actually sounds fun. I mean more fun than doing the same old doctor stuff every day.

Green Pimble
Posts: 14
Joined: Thu Jan 14, 2021 8:16 pm

Re: Cat City

Post by Green Pimble »

Life has been a bit disrupted lately as I have moved to a regional town for a 6 month position. This covers some of my anaesthetic training, the skills of which are essential for an emergency doctor. I was offered the position because I have worked in this regional hospital before and made a good impression-- getting a short contract with anaesthetic time isn't easy, because being an anaethetist is considered an excellent job; hence the rotations are in high demand. The work itself isn't super interesting, but my new colleagues are extremely knowledgable and usually happy to teach, so the time is passing. To save money I moved in with a couple of uni students, and I commute back to the city on weekends via train. It's a relaxed lifestyle compared to the Emergency Department, but I know it's not for me in the long term. Simply walking back into the ED on an errand gave me a rush: the noise, the chaos of people going everywhere, police guarding arrested patients, people shouting... I do my best work in the middle of that chaos. Later this year I'll be in charge of the Emergency Department overnight (the most senior doctor on the floor), which is a challenge that seems daunting and exciting at the same time.

I've recently been feeling at a loss of what to do with my spare time. I am spending a good chunk of it playing computer games (Diablo 2 mostly). It's a cheap hobby, the main cost being electricity to run my desktop computer, but it takes a lot of my time. I've tried putting it away for a few months at a time, but I'm inevitably drawn back to it. I think I'm attracted to the gear and skill choices you make in the game, deciding on trade-offs to maximise your character with the limited gear you have. Of course, being a skinner box would help the appeal too! I suspect my lack of engagement with other hobbies and challenges is stunting my long-term enjoyment of life. When I look back on the things I have done in the past that I am most proud of, and give me the most joy, none of them are single player computer games. The times when gaming has given me joy has been when I've connected with my brother through gaming.

I once heard someone describe playing World of Warcraft as being like bouncing a basketball down a corridor: the ball's peaks are when you're subscribed and playing, and the troughs are unsubscribed and doing other things in life. Eventually the ball stops bouncing and you're done.
Perhaps it's time to put the computer away again.

[edit] I was thinking about this post at the gym: the problem is not necessarily computer games per se, it's getting to the end of a day and feeling like I have wasted my time. Does anyone have a technique for approaching the day with more intentionality?

AxelHeyst
Posts: 504
Joined: Thu Jan 09, 2020 4:55 pm
Location: The Mountains, USA

Re: Cat City

Post by AxelHeyst »

Timeblock planning (per Cal Newport). He presents it as a way to 2x your productivity at w*rk, but I also use it as a tool to ensure I maintain progress on the stuff I want to do, and don't let low-value shallow activities crowd my days. I use timeblock planning to structure the first 4-10hrs of my day, depending on what day it is and what I've got going on. It's important to not plan your entire day - I think you need a good ratio of you day left totally unstructured, do whatever you want.

As with anything, timeblock planning is a skill and has a learning curve.

Qazwer
Posts: 87
Joined: Thu May 16, 2019 6:51 pm

Re: Cat City

Post by Qazwer »

How does anesthetic training in emergency medicine work? Are you just working with them for those 6 months? Is it just a rotation to fet you better at emergency intimations? When you are finished training, can you do cases part time? I thought it was it’s own training program. 6 months seem long for such a small portion of what you will be doing after training. I think I do not understand what it is in Australia.
Curious
Thank you

not sure
Posts: 17
Joined: Fri Feb 05, 2021 2:34 pm

Re: Cat City

Post by not sure »

Hey!
Welcome to the forum, I look forward to reading your journal.

I studied in New Zealand, so was also "blessed" with a much smaller student loan compared to the US.
Paying that off was my first conscious FIRE/ER undertaking.

"Blessed" is in quotation marks as my alternative was to study for free in Russia. State-run university programs are free there, but my prospects would have been much more limited if I took that route.

Green Pimble
Posts: 14
Joined: Thu Jan 14, 2021 8:16 pm

Re: Cat City

Post by Green Pimble »

AxelHeyst wrote:
Sun Feb 21, 2021 11:09 am
Timeblock planning (per Cal Newport). He presents it as a way to 2x your productivity at w*rk, but I also use it as a tool to ensure I maintain progress on the stuff I want to do, and don't let low-value shallow activities crowd my days...
Thank you for the tip. I'll have to check out Cal Newport. Are your time blocks certain lengths? And what do you do if you're enjoying the activity you're doing (and feel it's 'productive'), but you're running out of time? Do you simply let the activty overrun its time slot, or do you feel sticking to the time blocks strictly is improtant?

I think one aspect of my life that I struggle with, and use as a post-hoc justification for being 'lazy'/pursuing low-value activities, is my lack of regular timetable. Work occurs across three different shifts, which rotate without much rhyme or reason (why do I have a single day off? Why am I working three nights, following by a morning, followed by an evening, then another two nights?!). I've often said to myself, "if only I had a regular timetable, I would do x..."
But right now, on my current rotation in anaesthetic, I have a very regular timetable--- and still I'm pursuing the low-value activities! This reasoning is revealed as a justification for my habits, rather than a true barrier.
AxelHeyst wrote:
Sun Feb 21, 2021 11:09 am
As with anything, timeblock planning is a skill and has a learning curve.
I'm glad you said this! I may have embarked on timeblock planning and swiftly given it up otherwise.
Qazwer wrote:
Sun Feb 21, 2021 11:46 am
How does anesthetic training in emergency medicine work? Are you just working with them for those 6 months? Is it just a rotation to fet you better at emergency intimations? When you are finished training, can you do cases part time? I thought it was it’s own training program. 6 months seem long for such a small portion of what you will be doing after training. I think I do not understand what it is in Australia.
Curious
Thank you
Anaesthetic training is its own training program. I believe it takes about 5 years to complete, which is similar to Emergency Medicine training, which is its own training program too.
In Australia we lump three medical specialities under the category of 'critical care': anaesthetics, emergency medicine, and intensive care. All three share the potential for treating critically unwell patients who may need intubation and ventilation. For this reason, training in any one of these specialities requires some cross-training in the others. I will train for 6+ months in intensive care as well. Anaethetists spend a year in ICU. ICU registrars have to do 6 months in ED (I think), etc.
I won't be able to work as an anaesthetist afterwards, but the skills I am gaining are still very important for my work in ED. Primarily we learn our airway skills: intubating patients, bag + valve ventilation, induction drugs, etc. We do these procedures in ED all the time. Mostly it is for patients who need their airways protected because they are unconscious and vomiting, or for patients who have difficulty breathing and will soon arrest/die unless we sedate them and breathe for them. Sometimes we sedate patients for minor procedures, for example, straightening broken bones, or relocating dislocated joints, etc. All very useful skills :).

I think as well there may be some possibility of doing 'dual training' in Anaesthetics/Emergency if I were so inclined, reducing the time from 10 years down to 8. But I think one training program is enough for me!
not sure wrote:
Sun Feb 21, 2021 3:01 pm
Hey!
Welcome to the forum, I look forward to reading your journal.

I studied in New Zealand, so was also "blessed" with a much smaller student loan compared to the US.
Paying that off was my first conscious FIRE/ER undertaking.

"Blessed" is in quotation marks as my alternative was to study for free in Russia. State-run university programs are free there, but my prospects would have been much more limited if I took that route.
Thanks for your warm welcome :).
Are the state run universities in Russia not recognised internationally? Are you still living in New Zealand? I'm in awe of people who move overseas for work and study. It seems like such a massive leap! I am interested in working abroad myself, although it's hard to imagine having better pay or conditions than in Australia. I suppose the upside is exposure to new cultures and generally broadening my horizons.

AxelHeyst
Posts: 504
Joined: Thu Jan 09, 2020 4:55 pm
Location: The Mountains, USA

Re: Cat City

Post by AxelHeyst »

The length of “blocks” in time block planning can vary, depends on what sort of activity you’re blocking out. Any sort of cognitive effort where you are focusing deeply should probably be 60-90 minutes.

Cal says “there are no points awarded for sticking to a time-block plan that you set at the beginning of the day”. If the schedule gets disrupted for any reason, including “I got in to flow and just went with it for two hours” is fine - when the disruption comes to an end, simply re-visit the timeblock plan and revise it for the rest of the day. It’s no “failure” to have the plan changed throughout the day - the failure is if you allow disruptions to derail you in to doing ad hoc, reactive-mode style of work, which is far less effective (and it’s more stressful).

Cal has a few blog posts on it, but also if you listen to a couple of his early podcast episodes (“Deep Questions with Cal Newport”), he talks about it in some depth almost every episode and I got a lot of value out of his verbal descriptions of the method.

He just came out with a timeblock planner you can buy, but that’s just about the least ERE thing I can think of. Any old lined notebook or loose paper leaves will do. I do recommend physical notebook over any electronic format.

not sure
Posts: 17
Joined: Fri Feb 05, 2021 2:34 pm

Re: Cat City

Post by not sure »

Green Pimble wrote:
Sun Feb 21, 2021 5:41 pm

Are the state run universities in Russia not recognised internationally? Are you still living in New Zealand? I'm in awe of people who move overseas for work and study. It seems like such a massive leap! I am interested in working abroad myself, although it's hard to imagine having better pay or conditions than in Australia. I suppose the upside is exposure to new cultures and generally broadening my horizons.
Not 100% sure, but I think to a lesser degree.
Also, having studied in English allowed me to enter an English-speaking society and get a job easier.
In addition, I got NZ residency, which made travel much easier than on a Russian passport.

I remember having a long layover (>10h) in Singapore. My fellow travellers were going out into the city for a tour.
When I handed my Russian passport to an airport officer, my permit was denied. As soon as I flipped to NZ residency page, the issue was resolved and I was allowed into the city.

I have lived in a few countries - Russia, NZ, Japan, and now the US.
Every experience was worth the difficulty of learning and adjusting to the new culture, worldview, way of life. Although the benefits have not necessarily been financial.

I learned something unexpected from every trip to a new (to me) country. These were not the experiences I banked on when going to those places, but they shaped my understanding of the world and my place in it. So I am a fan, if not an advocate of travelling :)

Green Pimble
Posts: 14
Joined: Thu Jan 14, 2021 8:16 pm

Re: Cat City

Post by Green Pimble »

not sure wrote:
Mon Feb 22, 2021 12:31 am
snip
Thanks for sharing! What a story regarding the Russian passport in Singapore. I think, being from Australia, I've never experienced such an issue before. I've done some travelling before I discovered ERE, but all of it was touristy in nature, and didn't really satisfy me. For the longest time I thought I didn't like travel, but I actually think I just don't like the "see an entire country in 2 weeks" kinda of travel I was doing.

One thing that worries me about making the effort to move internationally, have my job recognised, learn the language, etc. is leaving behind all my friends and family, and making new friends. It seems daunting. Do you ever feel truly 'at home' in a new country? Or is part of your heart always in your home country, yearning to be back in familiar places?

not sure
Posts: 17
Joined: Fri Feb 05, 2021 2:34 pm

Re: Cat City

Post by not sure »

@GP I agree with not wanting to do the touristy thing.
Some of my best travel experiences were from going out on my own and just seeing what is out there. Hearing, smelling, seeing, listening, trying to understand what it is like for the people, plants, animals who live there and have lived there before. It's intangible, so hard for me to describe in a post.

I think the key to such experiences is to allow yourself the head space and time to wander and wonder, to just explore. I get into a kind of "flow" if I'm in a new place by myself, I have a loose plan of what I want to see/do but allow myself to depart from it if something else attracts my attention. For example, I was in India with a group of friends. We arrived in a new town in the evening after a long journey and settled into a hotel. The moon was just too magical to stay inside, a huge yellow speckled circle. So I went for a short walk and found a tiny carnival/amusement park nearby. Watching that moon from a Ferris wheel was one of the best experiences of that leg of the trip.

On the same trip, we stayed in Mumbai for a few days. I walked a lot, saw a lot of poor people, and even more kids growing up in just the poorest of conditions. During departure, the plane took off over what seemed like a slum city. I felt like it would not end, rows and rows and rows of shack roofs with nothing else. At that moment I decided to finish my education and not give up on grad school. Most of those kids would never come close to the opportunities I was given.

You are right, moving to a new country to live is hard, and not for everyone. I feel like my heart is divided into many parts.
Yet to travel to gain new perspectives, seeking to observe, experience, and understand is a different story :)

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