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But it’s SO easy to say YES! Yes, I’ll buy the new, big house. Sure, I’ll pay for my kid’s extra activities. Okay, I’ll also buy the new car. Fine, I’ll invest in your startup.

These may sound like good decisions at the time, but are your “Yes’s” becoming more of a pain than a gain? This challenge isn’t limited to young physicians, either. Life requires decision making. Decisions are complex and emotional and you’ll find them throughout all phases of life. In our experience, though, young physicians transitioning into practice face particularly unique challenges.

The Transition

This transition brings with it a mountain of decisions. Many young physicians are unprepared, lacking in financial knowledge and experience, and excited about the promise of a big paycheck. They don’t exactly cover this stuff in residency. Many feel pent up spending pressure – so many years of being underpaid and overworked. It’s time to live life! Everybody else has been doing it for years… it’s time to catch up!

Then people start coming out of the woodwork – salespeople, charities, advisors, friends – all wanting a piece of your hard work.

Pair all of this together with the fact people often have trouble saying NO – especially those without experience – and you have a recipe for disaster.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Let’s explore some of the most important decisions young physicians face that usually cause financial ruin – decisions that should result in NO (or at worst “maybe”).

Explore the world of NO

Dr. 1 says NO to everything. She lives like a resident – her wealth grows quickly and naturally brings security, flexibility and opportunity. She feels like she’s making a ton of money – way more than in residency. She has room to breathe and peace of mind. Life is good!

Dr. 2 says YES to everything – he has a big mortgage and is house poor. He’s got lots of stuff… except cash. His debt builds quickly and brings anxiety and limitations. He feels the pressure to work more hours to make more money. Job loss would cause serious problems – possibly even bankruptcy. He doesn’t feel like he’s actually making much money – he wonders how he made it during residency on such a low salary. Or how others get by on so little. Life is stressful!

Most people we work with fall somewhere in the middle of Dr. No and Dr. Yes… but we also see the extremes. Nobody PLANS for the latter scenario. And the first scenario requires serious discipline, planning and being intentional. In practice, it’s all about making informed & objective decisions that are alignment with your values. And, when in doubt, say NO until you can get there.

When to Say NO

  • Buying too much home
  • Buying too much “stuff”
  • Following the advice Of Salespeople blindly
  • “Investment Opportunities”
  • Handouts

How To Avoid Making Terrible Decisions

  • When others are pushing YES, always say NO and take time to make the decision on your terms
  • Let your values guide your decision making
  • Avoid emotional decisions
  • Find good advisors who you trust

Remember that “no” now, doesn’t mean “no” forever. Just do yourself a favor, and don’t rush into yes.

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