Money: The root of all evil, or at least most misfortune.
It can be easy to fall into this victimhood mindset and assume wealth is bad.
But our guest begs to differ.
Jordan Grumet, MD is an ex-internal medicine physician turned podcaster and speaker who made it his mission to create as many purposeful, financially wealthy, and fulfilled medical professionals as possible.
On this LIVE episode of Finance For Physicians, Daniel Wrenne and Jordan Grumet talked about:
- Jordan’s new book “Taking Stock” how to build wealth and live a regret-free life
- Why there are unique financial challenges for physicians.
- How to avoid getting caught up in the pursuit of more money and instead use money as a tool to live regret-free lives.
- When to make time to ask the tough questions regarding finance.
- And more!
Ready to up your finance game as a medical professional? Listen today!
Contact Finance for Physicians
Full Episode Transcript:
Daniel: Welcome everyone. I’m your host Daniel Wrenne today we’re gonna be talking about using money as a tool to live life with more joy and less regret.
Daniel: This is a big topic and I think it’s super important.
Daniel: Obviously, everybody wants to live their life more like that. I think it’s gonna be enjoyable conversation. It’s a great topic and I’m excited to jump in.
Daniel: We got a fantastic guest with us today and I’m excited to introduce him. Our guest today is a physician, personal finance expert, speaker, author, podcaster, and entrepreneur. He’s been up to a lot of really cool things lately that I think are super relevant for this conversation today.
Daniel: His podcast, Earn and Invest, he talks about using money as a tool to pursue your purpose. He’s also worked extensively as a hospice physician and worked with many patients nearing the end of their life. And through that gained lots of perspective and it even inspired his new book, which is called “Taking Stock a Hospice Doctor’s Advice on Financial Independence, building Wealth, and Living a Regret Free Life.”
Daniel: Our guest today is Dr. Jordan Grumet. Welcome, Jordan.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: Thank you for having me. I’m so excited for this conversation.
Daniel: There’s so much I feel like we could talk about. But I was telling Jordan before we hit start, he had shared with me this life review exercise and in preparing for it, I did that.
Daniel: And hopefully we can circle back to that.
Daniel: Also, as I was preparing, this song kept popping into my head. And I had to throw this out there. it’s a Tim McGraw song which is called Live Like You’re Dying.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: I knew you were getting there. I heard it in my head. As you were saying, I was thinking of a song. I’m like, I’m hearing it. I’m hearing it.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: Yeah.
Daniel: I kept thinking of that song as I’m like digging into your message and what you’re all about. And it’s about guy that’s gets the news. I’m sure all y’all listen and have heard it. It’s about this guy that gets the news that he’s dying and the way that he handles it is more of a positive view and almost looks at it as a blessing.
Daniel: And he goes skydiving. Mountain Climbing. And rides a bull. And loves his wife and all the things in his last few days or so. And it ends out with I hope you get the opportunity to live more like you’re dying. Which it just kept reminding me of this stuff. But is that how people actually, hopefully that’s how everybody is, when they’re at the end. But is that how people are?
Dr. Jordan Grumet: Well, I think it’s how people are in the end. The problem is it’s not how we are every day. So what I like to tell people is, you are dying. It’s not, if you are dying from the moment you are born. So the question is, how can we use that knowledge to be more intentional about how we live our lives today? I think the Buddhist have the term “Memento Mori”.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: This idea of bringing this idea of your own depth into your daily life. And the reason why is it’s really easy to put off those important things. Because important things tend to be hard. They’re difficult. They make us do uncomfortable things. Sometimes the things we really care about don’t go well with society’s norms.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: Maybe society says that we should go and be doctors and accountants and lawyers. But what we really wanna do is be painters or artists. So there are all sorts of reasons to put aside those things that we really want out of life. As opposed to thinking about them today. The problem is, we’re not guaranteed the days, weeks, or the years.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: My father died when he was 40 years old, suddenly. We never know when our last day will be. Does that mean we should sit there and worry about it every day? No. But I think we should be more intentional about doing those things that are really important to us now.
Daniel: In your experience working with these patients, on their deathbed, I feel like it would be more real with the people that are aware of it, I guess you can relate to that more. But did it change you as a person going through that? And if so, what was that change like?
Dr. Jordan Grumet: It changed me quite a bit. See, here’s the problem. When you have someone who’s dying and they get told you have weeks or months, all of a sudden they give themselves permission to do or think about all those things that they truly wanted. They’ve been pushing all this stuff to the side cuz it’s scary. Or because it’s not what society or their family has asked out of them. So they’ve been not paying attention to their own real wants or needs. And now they’re told they’re dying.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: And I say, “Okay, now I’m gonna give myself permission.” Here’s the problem. You only have weeks or months to live. It’s really hard to do those important things to get in touch with your sense of purpose, to get in touch with those people who are most important to you. It’s really hard to do that when you only have a short period of time left.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: What I call this in the book is the Deuce Ex Machina. This is the plot twist at the end of the movie that unexpectedly fixes everything. So in hospice we try to help people come to terms with their lives. We try to help them deal with their sense of purpose and what they mean in this world. But I’d rather avoid you needing the last minute plot twist.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: What if we started working on these things when we were much earlier and younger? And so that’s what I learned. How did this all affect me? As I was dealing with the dying and I was seeing the regrets and I was seeing that they were scrambling to do these last important things in their life cuz they never put the energy or time into doing it.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: I realized that I needed to look at my own life. And instead of leaving it to the last minute like they did, instead of waiting for that last minute plot twist, I could start working on these things now. I could start getting in touch with what was really important to me and then maybe living the next 30 or 40 years enjoying those things. So that when I got to that point where a hospice doctor like me walks into the room to see me, I don’t have those kind of regrets that I so commonly saw in my patients.
Daniel: What did that look like for you?
Dr. Jordan Grumet: For me, I think I realized that I was spending a lot of time doctoring and I wasn’t enjoying it. So by the time I got into hospice, the only thing I loved about being a doctor anymore was the hospice work. But I was spending 30 or 40 hours a week doing office work and hospital work and nursing homework.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: So one big thing I did was slowly pulled away from those things. Luckily enough, I had built a financial framework that would allow me to do that. I realized that I was more interested in communication and writing and podcasting, and blogging. All these things I’d always promised myself when I had the time I would do, but the time was never there.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: So I always wanted to write a book. I always wanted to do things where I could have these important conversations that would help people. But I kept on putting it off ‘cuz I was too busy being a doctor. Making a living. Being my profession. So I think dealing with my dying patients, with these hospice patients, helped me finally cleave that bond to these things I thought I was supposed to be doing. And start really questioning, ” What do I want to do?”
Daniel: Yeah. It’s so interesting that a lot of us are chasing retirement or happiness or whatever. And we’re working so hard, but so much that we’re doing, we don’t even have any space to enjoy today. And so it’s all kind of future focus.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: Which is interesting because what’s the point of retirement? I mean, a lot of us think of retirement or think of getting to this place where we call financial independence or financial freedom. And we almost focus on that thing, the word retirement or this idea of financial freedom. But we don’t think real deeply about what that gets us. What it should get us retirement or financial freedom is the time and the space to do those things that are purposeful and meaningful to us.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: But why do we have to wait to retirement to do that? Why can’t we start thinking about those things when we’re in our thirties and forties? And so your average person would say, “Well, we’re too busy working or building a family to do that.” But I would argue. ” Well, why can’t we incorporate those things into our work into building a family?”
Dr. Jordan Grumet: Why do we again have to focus on the purpose of work is to make money, and the purpose of having money is a goal so that I can stop working? That all sounds great. But again, it’s this idea, money is a tool. We work to build up more of this tool but then we have to make sure that we use that tool to actually do those things we wanna do in our lives.
Daniel: Yeah. I think most people will say, “Oh yeah, I get it. Money is a tool.” But then if you look at their life, they’re caught in this pursuit of more money. Or the money is the end goal. So there’s this disconnect.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: It’s really easy to make money of the goal and think about this.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: Money is easy cuz it’s quantifiable. You can measure and monitor it. You can set these wonderful goals. And then something happens. You reach your money goals, if you’re lucky. You get to that money goal. One of two things happens, because you made the money the goal. Once you get there, you feel empty, cuz you’ve met your goal. And you don’t really have anything.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: It’s not meaningful. It’s just a number on the bank account. So what some people do then is they just double the goal. So I wanted a net worth of $500,000. I got there. I don’t feel happy or wonderful yet. Something still feels off. So what am I gonna do? I’m gonna make my goal a million dollars.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: That’s one problem. The other problem is let’s say $500,000 is your goal, and you get to $500,000 net worth. All of a sudden you get petrified, you’re gonna lose it. And it’s something called Loss Aversion. This idea that we’re doubly afraid of losing what we’ve gained than we are of never gaining it in the first place.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: The reason why reaching these money goals causing this anxiety is cuz they’re hollow. They’re mirages. It’s just a number on the paper. It’s just this thing that we’ve created to mean value or wealth. These are hollow goals and they don’t make us feel good. What we need to start doing is thinking about what’s really important in our lives?
Dr. Jordan Grumet: What do we wanna accomplish? And once we move past that, then we can see what money can be used to do for us. And these are more durable, tangible goals that actually give us some modicum of happiness versus just some net worth number. Which we think is gonna make us happy. But actually most people get more anxious as they get closer and closer to that money goal.
Daniel: And I think the science backs up a lot of research has been done on that, and I think it all backs this up. I’m curious if some of these people nearing them into their life, were some of them doing it right? Had some of them really just knocked it outta the park on, like they were in touch with their purpose?
Dr. Jordan Grumet: There are plenty of people who live really good deaths. I’ve highlighted in the book a lot of people who had regrets. And the reason why is I wanted to show how these regrets could translate into making a better life for us as people when we’re younger.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: But the people who start thinking about purpose identity, and connections early on in their life, actually tend to get to the end of life and don’t have these regrets. There’s not the mad scramble to accomplish all these things because they already have. But it is still the rarity in the sense that most people don’t really wanna face these tough questions of what’s really important to me and how do I achieve it.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: Most people put it off, and I think a big reason people put it off is cuz it’s scary. Like when you start thinking about meaning and purpose and these big things, it reminds you that life is finite. That you could get to the end one day and not meet these goals. And that’s really anxiety provoking to think I could die one day, maybe I won’t achieve what I want.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: So instead of even thinking about it, people just put it off and concentrate on the easy stuff. I think money is an easy thing. It might not be easy to make money, but you know the steps. You know, I could get a raise at work. I could get an extra job. I could start a side hustle. I could invest more aggressively. Like these all are answers to simple questions.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: But then when I say, “Well, who do you wanna be and what do you want outta life?” That’s a much difficult question. I think it provokes a lot of anxiety and I think some of that anxiety is tied to the fact that it reminds us of our own mortality.
Daniel: It’s an evolving thing. If you’re caught up in this perfectionist mentality, I think there’s no perfect answer for that. It’s impossible to perfect your purpose and future self and it’s evolving over time.
Daniel: Do you think there’s specific challenges physicians face? Ideally we’re all living your regret free life but as a physician, do you think it’s particularly challenging?
Dr. Jordan Grumet: I think it’s very challenging. One is, there is a huge societal pressure to be doctors and what being a doctor means. So anyone who wants to step out of that narrative, really faces a huge backlash. The other problem is what most of us go into medicine for this dream of being there and helping people and making a difference, that dream gets a little bit mangled as you go through medical school and residency.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: And by the time you come out, you realize what you’re doing for a living isn’t what you thought it would be. You’re spending a lot of time in front of a computer, you’re trying to help people who sometimes don’t wanna be helped.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: You’re arguing with insurance agencies all the time. And so burnout, while common in all fields, I think is extremely important in the practice of medicine because it’s so common and so easy to become a victim of it.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: So I think that’s very unique that we decide usually at young ages that we wanna become physicians and there are all these societal and external pressures that push us onto this path. And once you’re on that path, it’s really hard to veer off. Not to mention that if you do end up being a physician, you finish residency and you’re like, “I hate medicine. I don’t wanna practice it anymore”. Guess what? You might have hundreds of thousands of dollars of medical school debt.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: And the only thing you know how to do that creates income is be a doctor, which by the way, creates lots of income. So if you’re gonna step away from that and then go do something you’re not nearly as trained to do, you’re not gonna make as much money. You’re gonna have a hard time paying off those debts.
Daniel: Yeah. It’s a challenging spot to be in. How do we start to gain greater awareness? I mean, the burnout situation is challenging because I think if you’re in the rat race and you’re just grinding it out, it’s hard to even think straight.
Daniel: And so maybe it depends on circumstances. But like how do we start to kind of move the right direction on this?
Dr. Jordan Grumet: So I think the first step is you almost have to take your finances and put them aside for a moment, which scares everyone, right? Because I’m someone who’s interested in personal finance and I’m actually telling you, ignore your finances for a short period of time, or put ’em on autopilot for a short period of time.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: And the reason you wanna do that is you really need to start thinking about what do purpose, identity, and connections look like in my life? What does meaning look like in my life? Only after you do that really hard work, which sometimes takes months or years. Can you then go back to your finances and say, okay, “I know who I wanna be.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: I know what I want my life to look like. I know how I want my days to be filled with meaning.” Then you need to go to your finances and build a financial framework that fits around that. Now, of course, that leads to a very difficult question, which people struggle with all the time, is, “Well, how do I define my sense of purpose and identity?”
Dr. Jordan Grumet: And that’s a whole nother conversation that gets into what we were talking about before with things like a life review. There’s lots of exercises we can do that help us start getting in touch with who we are and what we want out of life that help us see through that kind of mirage of wealth. Let us see past money and net worth and start thinking about the more important things like, how do I wanna spend my time? What do I wanna contribute to the world? Who are those people I wanna touch in? In what way? How do I wanna be remembered by my children and grandchildren? All of these kind of big questions get us past money and make us think about what’s really important to us.
Daniel: I think the natural tendency is to focus on the money first, like you’re saying.
Daniel: I was looking at some of my goal setting from when I was early in my career, and it was exactly what you’re talking about. It was like a net worth and income. And then I think I had like a five year goal of like needs to work on relationships and spirituality or something like that. I’m like, I had it all backwards and I think that’s common.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: I think it’s really common and again, it’s very comfortable because if you think about your list, you knew the steps to take to get to a higher income or to be higher on the professional stratosphere, whatever was important to you there. But it’s kind of amorphous when you start saying, well, how do I become more spiritual?
Dr. Jordan Grumet: How do I work on my relationships? That stuff is more difficult, more time consuming in some ways more stressful. So it’s easy to put it aside. But again, when you flip the script and you realize that money is just a tool to get you to those other things, then you realize, well, I need to know what those other things are first before I then build this tool to support it.
Daniel: How can we know if we’re headed on the wrong path? Either I think if maybe symptoms that we can say? Cause it’s hard to self-diagnose this kind of thing. But I’m sure there’s kind of warning signals.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: It doesn’t feel good. Let me tell you about what happened to me. I had been identifying myself as a doctor for most of my life. My father died when he was 40. He was an oncologist. He had a brain aneurysm. He died while he was rounding at the hospital. I was seven at the time. And like lots of little kids, I somehow convinced myself it was my fault, right? As a kid, you see everything through your own lens. And because it was my fault, the way I was gonna make up for this was I was gonna become a doctor and I was gonna fulfill the role that he couldn’t because he died young. And that became really purposeful and even in some ways joyful to me. This was what I was going to do for a living. I would do it even if you didn’t pay me. This was the thing for me. It was very purposeful.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: But something happened, I went to residency in medical school and I had almost no medical friends. All my friends were excited when they became residents cause they could hang out in the doctor’s lounge. And I felt so uncomfortable there. And finally, when I was a doctor and I was practicing, my wife and I would go to parties. And we meet new people. And I would almost be embarrassed or ashamed to tell people what I did for a living, which is crazy cuz there’s nothing shameful about being a doctor. It’s a very proud profession. But what I realized is I was wearing this identity on the outside, like a cloak that didn’t match my identity on the inside.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: And so I had to do a lot of work to figure out what my identity on the inside was. And I realized that it was as a communicator, a writer, a podcast, or a public speaker. Once I recognized this disconnect, I realized how uncomfortable it was making me feel. So how do you know you’re on the wrong path? It doesn’t feel good. You feel disconnected. You surround yourself with peers who are excited about the things you like to do, but you don’t see or feel the same joy they do while doing it because you don’t fit. And so you have to start looking for those signs that the path you’re taking doesn’t feel comfortable or good, or isn’t really meeting your needs.
Daniel: And then the hard part starts, right? You gotta make changes potentially. So what did the work look like for you when you started to, you saw the signals, which is huge cuz a lot of times we miss the signals. I think we get the signals. Most people, they’re all over the place really. But you saw the signals. And then what did the work look like?
Dr. Jordan Grumet: So I had an epiphany. I realized I was burning outta medicine. It was stressing me out. I knew, I just knew I couldn’t do this forever. So I started looking at my finances, saying, “How do I get out? How do I have enough money to support myself so I don’t need to work again?”
Dr. Jordan Grumet: I was struggling through this and this guy, James Dahle, sent me his book, the White Coat Investor, which is a book for high net worth individuals, especially physicians. And I read his book and it gave me the vocabulary to understand my finances. And I realized that I actually had enough money. He gave me the words and the equations and everything.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: I said, “Wow! I have enough money. I could stop working as a physician right now, and I would be fine.” Which felt great for a moment. And then I had a panic attack because the only identity I had ever had, the only connection to my father who died when I was a little boy was all tied up in this profession.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: So I was lost. So this is what I did. First and foremost, since I had some financial power, I looked at my job as being a physician and I started getting rid of things that didn’t fit, that were causing me stress or causing friction in my life. So I call this subtraction. I started subtracting out the biggest pains in my job.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: So at that time, I had a private practice. I wasn’t willing to step away from being a physician totally. I couldn’t step away from that identity. It was just too fresh and new and I didn’t know who I was. But I could get rid of my practice which was calling me all sorts of stress. And I was going to patients’ houses on Saturdays and Sundays to see them.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: So I got rid of that. And I was doing nursing homework and hospice work. But over a year or two, the nursing homework got more stressful. I was getting calls at three in the morning, so eventually I got rid of the nursing homework. I was lucky. I had enough money I could do these things. Eventually, I kept hospice work. And the thing about it was hospice work was work I would do even if I wasn’t being paid for it.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: So that was a big sign to me. I said, okay. I started getting rid of things I didn’t like in my current workplace and what I was left with is something that felt genuine, purposeful, something I would do even if I wasn’t being paid for it. So I kept that, but I even hued that down further. I got rid of nights and weekends and being on call.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: What I was left with is 15 or 20 hours a week of mostly being in meetings and taking texts. But otherwise, I could build it into exactly what I wanted it to be.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: So for me, I subtracted out all those things I didn’t like about my job, all those things that were causing friction. When I did that, I went from working 60 hours a week to working 15 hours a week. All of a sudden I had all this free time.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: So the question was what were the things that were meaningful for me, that I now had time to do, which I never had before? Of course, there was the obvious family stuff, like being there for the kids and my wife and et cetera.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: But what I really recognize is all throughout my career I was squiring away little bits, minutes and hours to write blogs or do public speaking or to act as a communicator. I was squiring away these little bits of time to do it while my family was sleeping or during an odd lunch break here or there. And I love doing these things. And I would call it a hobby because I told myself, well, you can’t make a living doing that. That’s not what you do full time. That’s what being a doctor is.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: When I realized I now had all this free time, that was what I wanted to spend more time doing. So it was epiphany to me in the sense that I could actually start doing those things that I would always considered hobbies. The things that really I was passionate about. And I could spend more and more time doing them.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: And once I started doing that, they became really, really purposeful for me.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: And so that’s how I had to approach it. I had to do it slowly. I had to get rid of those things I didn’t like first. Create some time and space and then start slowly adding in those things that are purposeful to me.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: Now, a lot of people could be listening to this and saying, “Well, most of us aren’t as lucky as you are. Maybe we don’t have hobbies. Maybe we don’t think or know what’s purposeful to us.” But for those people, I’d say, well, now you have some extra time and space in your life. Start throwing the spaghetti against the wall. Start volunteering for things. Start thinking back to childhood and what really got you excited or motivated.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: Think about those nights where you woke up in the middle of the night excited by an idea and your heart was racing and you couldn’t fall back asleep cuz it was so cool. Well, did you pursue those things?
Dr. Jordan Grumet: Maybe you convinced yourself the next day you were too busy or it didn’t fit into your work schedule or that’s not what adults do. But now if you can create some space in your life, maybe you can start pursuing those things and start thinking about what do I really want? What really gets me excited?
Daniel: You mentioned the White Coat Investor book. Were there other influences that come to mind? There’s all these little influences in our lives that kind of propel us the right direction. But were there other things that come to mind that kind of helped along the way?
Dr. Jordan Grumet: There were tons of influences. The first influence was my parents. So my parents modeled fantastic financial behavior. They never gave me the vocabulary for it but I grew up with parents who saved 50% of their income, who owned real estate, who ran their own businesses, who had side hustles. So immediately, they had a huge impact on who I became and that was the only reason when I finally got that book from James Dahle.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: I had been modeled such great financial behavior that I had just done what my parents did. Which was really lucky because when I finally figured it out, I actually had enough money to start steering the ship and doing what I wanted to do.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: So right outta the box, my parents were incredibly influential. There are a lot of books out there. I mean, there are a lot of financial books. Once I read James Dahle, I started reading blogs like Physician on Fire. Started reading J.L. Collins, A Simple Path to Wealth. Grant Sabatier, Millennial Money. I just started taking in all of these personal finance people. And it helped me refine my financial knowledge.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: But it also again, helped me get to this point where I could take my finances and create a sense of autopilot or competency so that I could start putting my mind to other things like, what’s gonna be meaningful to me? What do I really wanna spend my brain power doing?
Daniel: So how did you shift? I know you enjoyed blogging and producing content and it sounds like you started digging into finances and was it a natural shift to start? ‘Cuz you could have of course, started creating content about being a doctor or medicine or hospice.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: And I had done that for years. I had been writing about being a doctor, a medical blog since 2005. And in 2018, as I had this epiphany and read the White Coat Investor, I knew that I had to work through all my issues of my finances and my identity. So I started writing about personal finance because it became almost like an online diary. A way for me to work through all of this kind of financial trauma and figure out what it meant in my life and understand how it could lead to a better life. So for me it was a very intentional exercise in working through all of these things that I didn’t quite understand. And in a sense it became an online accountability journal too.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: ‘Cuz I would write blog posts almost every day telling people what I believed, what I thought what money should do for me and what I wanted to do with it.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: And once you kind of put that out into public, it does provide the sense of accountability of I’ve thought it. I’ve now written it. Now the next step is to actually do it.
Daniel: I think accountability is big. You did it in a one form. There’s accountability with people in general. But a lot of times people use more like one-on-one accountability or your spouse. But the internet is a great one ‘cuz it’s like the masses.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: And if you write a lot of times too, if you are engaged in a community. So I started engaging the personal finance community. You write and people respond. It might not be hundreds of people respond. But even if you get a few responders, those become your accountability partners, whether they mean to or not. Because you know that you’re putting it out there and that people are reading and reacting and it actually, it could be a negative thing. If you take it too far. But in a lot of ways, for me, it was very positive.
Daniel: So you started to notice more signals. You originally noticed signals that it didn’t feel good and now it seems like you feel really good about what you’re doing. And you’ve slowly progressed that direction over time.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: The way I look at it, and especially as a hospice doctor, I really put things in terms of, “If I were to die tomorrow, what regrets would I have?”
Dr. Jordan Grumet: And so I now try to structure my life in a way where I’m doing things that are meaningful to me. And so now, built a life in which I pretty much do what I want. I have maximal control over my daily activities. That doesn’t mean I love everything. Like I make a podcast. I love making a podcast but there are parts of it that are just drudgery. But I chose that drudgery. So feeling that sense of control and choosing those things you do with your life.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: I’ve just slowly gotten rid of all of those things that I didn’t like doing that didn’t add meaning to me. And then started replacing them with meaningful things. And it doesn’t have to be something big or important. For me, reading is very meaningful. So I read two to three hours a day.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: That’s something I can build into my life. Exercise is important. So I can exercise an hour a day. These are all things I started building into my life. So that I could work on kind of those things that are important to me. So not everything is a big dream or goal. Like I had some big dreams and goals, like publishing a book that was something that took a lot more time and a lot more thoughtful energy, et cetera.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: And that takes up some of my time. But then other parts of my time are stuff like that. Reading, exercising, spending time with family, being there when my kids get home from school. All of those are kind of more minor things that I can integrate into my life right away and just give it more meaning.
Daniel: So if I’m in the throws of a tough job, like working 90, 80, 70 hours a week in my job. And I think in that position, it’s like you’re barely above water. I have worked with many people that are in that situation and it’s difficult because there’s not even enough time to spend 30 minutes to do some self development work on what’s most important to you. Much less like time to take your kids places. Like life is crazy and I think a lot of our culture is just crazy over the top overcommitted on activities and work and all that stuff. So how do we shift on that?
Dr. Jordan Grumet: I think the answer is still the same answer.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: I don’t think you can answer those questions until you realize what’s important to you. And I think once you do some of that work and you have to slow down enough to at least figure out what is truly important to you. Once you do that, you can then start looking at your finances and start thinking about, how much money? Or what do I need my finances to look like to support that? Then you can go back to that crazy job where you’re working 90 hours a week and say, “Okay, I know what my goals are. I have some idea of what my financial needs are to meet those goals. How does this job align with that?”
Dr. Jordan Grumet: And there’s so many different answers. One might be, this job makes me a bunch of money, and I’m willing to put that all aside for five years to work really hard, make tons of money, and then quit and live off of the proceeds, and then do those things I wanna do. That might be the answer for one person. Another person might say, look, I can quit this job and take a job part-time that I spend 45 hours a week instead of 90 hours a week. I’m gonna make 50% as much money, which means I might have to work until I’m 60 or 70. But having those extra 45 hours a week will allow me to pursue things I wanna do.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: Allow me to spend time with my family. Yes, I won’t have as much money in the coffers but I’m gonna be enjoying life a lot more right now and I’m gonna be much more purposeful today. For some people that might be the answer. For some people the answer might be, I’m working 90 hours a week and I can take a quarter of a pay cut and drop some of these responsibilities and hand them off to someone else.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: There’s so many different possibilities. Once you know what you want and then can start putting that into a financial framework. But you can’t figure out how to attack that crazy life now until you have an idea of what a better life looks like. And I know it’s exhausting and I know people are busy. But it’s the only way you’re really gonna start shaping your life now to fit what you want.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: Otherwise, you’re just a victim. You’re just a victim of circumstance. You’re a victim of someone told you have to work this much and make this much money and you are living a crazy life. And if you’re not enjoying it, if it’s not fulfilling you, if you’re not working that job to produce the tool of money to get you a better life, then why are you doing it?
Daniel: Yeah. I remember, one day I came to work and I have running the business and it can pull you in a lot of different directions. And one day I came in and I was working with Jen who’s in here at the time and was just like built up pressure and I’m like all of a sudden realized I’m completely fried.
Daniel: I had too many commitments and I’m like, Jen, we gotta reschedule all my meetings. Like clear the calendar. I’m out. And I left and went on a run and took a couple days off. And that was a recharge your batteries kind of experience.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: This is life telling you something’s wrong.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: If you’re living that crazy busy life and letting those important things in your life slip away, you’re doing it wrong.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: And I’m gonna say that again, you are doing it wrong. Because you are dying from the day you were born and there’s a finite amount of time left. That may be days, it may be weeks, it may be years, and no one knows how much.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: So you have to ask yourself the question, “If I died tomorrow, would I have regrets?” And if the answer is, I’d have tons of regrets, you’re doing it wrong.
Daniel: We gotta make changes and they gotta be like ASAP.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: Yes. And that doesn’t mean you have to drop everything. But it means we need to start being real thoughtful about how we’re gonna make this better.
Daniel: And I think the awareness is where you get, a lot of times you get the motivation just from the awareness. And that can drive you. But I would love to talk about some of the stories from the book about patients. You had a bunch of stories about patients and I’m curious about your favorites. You have favorite stories from some of the patients that you talked about with some of their regrets and some of those observations.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: I have tons of stories that are my favorites. Some of them for good reasons and some of them for kind of bad or sad reasons. Let me tell you one story I love that I often tell is about my patient Ernesto.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: Ernesto was in his twenties, was at the height of his money making abilities. He was building his professional career and he did something that many people didn’t quite understand. He decided to take a year off, train and go try to climb Mount Everest.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: And people said, what are you doing? You’re in the midst of making money. You’re building your career this is gonna slow you down. They started talking about opportunity cost. Instead of using that money and if you took your salary and you invested it and it’d be worth millions and years. So that was in his twenties and he went and he took year off and went to go climb Mount Everest.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: Now, interestingly enough, I met him in his forties when he was dying of Leukemia. And so let’s play this whole scenario back. What if he hadn’t taken that time in his twenties to try to climb Mount Everest? What if he had put it off? What if he had said, you know what? I’m in the middle of building my career.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: I can do it later. Ernesto spent most of his time regaling the hospice workers with stories about being on Mount Everest. It was the thing that he talked the most excitedly about. Here’s something else interesting. He didn’t succeed. They made it about halfway up. The weather changed. It was unsafe. He had to go back down and by then he had to leave and go back. He didn’t succeed. But the interesting thing about Ernesto is, it wasn’t whether you succeed or fail, what people regret or the things they never had the courage to try. And so what was great for Ernesto is we talk about investing in the stock market.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: We talk about dividends from our stocks. But Ernesto invested in this experience and it compounded over the years and continued to give him dividends up until the day he died. And so this is a great story about how knowing your sense of purpose can actually help you today and may make you decide things that don’t necessarily benefit your finances.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: But help you become the person you wanna become sooner. And so I think Ernesto’s story is just a great example of so many things. But it’s also a story of the risk of not living your life today as well as tomorrow, not realizing what’s important for you. I also like to tell my own story about how I did it wrong.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: When I started medical school, my first week I volunteered as an inpatient hospice worker. And for the first year or two of medical school, every week, I would go and be a hospice volunteer. On the other hand, I convinced myself, no matter how much I loved being a volunteer, that wasn’t something I would do for a living
Dr. Jordan Grumet: it either wouldn’t pay enough or wasn’t exciting enough. I wanted to be an internal medicine physician and rush in the room and save people’s lives. And so I went and became an internal medicine physician, burned out and left medicine. The only thing that I wanted to keep was this hospice work. By that time, I had made tons of money.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: I was financially independent so I could afford to leave medicine completely. But what if I had been more in touch with my sense of purpose and identity as that medical student? What if I realized that hospice actually fulfilled everything I truly wanted out of medicine and became a hospice doctor to start with?
Dr. Jordan Grumet: You know what? I probably wouldn’t have made as much money. I probably wouldn’t have as high of a net worth. I probably wouldn’t be financially independent, but I also probably wouldn’t have burned out at medicine, and I probably would’ve spent my days doing something that was really meaningful for me that also happened to pay the bills.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: And you know what? That would’ve been monetary needs. But our passion and meaning and purpose. And if we do that correctly, there’s no reason to rush towards something we call financial independence.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: There’s no reason to rush towards a high net worth. You’re already actually doing all those things that the money is supposed to do for you already. And that’s the goal. Right? So those are two good stories, I think, from the book.
Daniel: Yeah. I think, as you were saying that, a lot of conversations I’ve had around financial independence and retire early. And I think we’ve interacted with lots of physicians that are, it is a passion, like they truly do love medicine, but the system is like just crushing them causing a lot of the problems. And so they’re really pushing hard on these side hustles and passive income and, real estate and all these things to basically get to fire faster or financial independence faster.
Daniel: And I think the issue I see is that they’re almost, it’s like pulling them away from their passion.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: Yup.. There is this guy named Jeff who wrote a blog called The Happy Philosopher. He’s a radiologist. And he talks a lot about how he got burned out in medicine and he decided that I could change my life. I could be more frugal, I could invest, I could do all these things, and that would allow me to go part-time in medicine and eventually retire early. Well, guess what happened when he started taking control of his life? When he started seeing that there were financial pathways he could support himself, that his money could give him options, he ultimately decided not even to go part-time because just feeling that sense of control, knowing that he could control his life, knowing that he could go down to part-time anytime he wanted to.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: Brought some of that joy back to what he really liked about medicine. So the answer to burnout, is not become financially independent and leave medicine. The answer, in my opinion to burnout is create safety and a safe financial framework so you can take your job and meld it or mold it into what you want it to be so you can get rid of those most worrisome friction points and make it much more manageable.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: For some people that might be doing concierge medicine. For some people that might be doing direct practice. For some people like me, it would’ve been changing specialties and only doing hospice medicine. For some people, let’s say you’re an ER doc, it might be going from an employed physician to a contract physician who works less shifts or only works day shifts. Or works only night shifts, so they can be home with their spouse and kids during the day. For each person, it’s gonna be a little different.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: The point is not to leave something you’re passionate about, it’s to feel a sense of control so you don’t burn. And then no longer feel passion for those things that drive you.
Daniel: Yeah, I think there’s a lot of problems in healthcare and that doesn’t mean necessarily that you have to leave. I kind of view it as opportunities too. Like you can create new solutions. It could be a business that we don’t even know exists. That’s, you know, allows you to do the thing you ultimately really loved in the first place.
Daniel: And it solves a lot of these ridiculous problems and that is gonna feel much more impactful cuz you’re leaning into what’s most important. But it all goes back to, I think the issue with these people I interact with on occasion is like, what’s the underlying purpose behind the direction you’re taking this? Is it to make money or is it to follow your passion?
Dr. Jordan Grumet: And this is the real important part that I wanna make sure everyone understands. I’m not saying don’t pay attention to money. In fact, if you get this, you realize getting your financial framework in place is more important than ever because money is a powerful tool and it will allow you to pursue the things you really wanna do. But we just have to recognize that it’s not the goal unto itself. So having some financial wherewithal will give you a lot of fuel to turn your dreams into reality, to change your job into what you want it to be, to not accept those things that you hate about work. So it’s important to pay attention to your finances, but remember, it’s not the end all, be all. It’s actually a road to all these things you really want.
Daniel: Yeah. It’s the tool to allow you to live out your purpose, really.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: Yeah. And it’s not “the tool”, it’s “a tool”.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: Because we have many other tools. We have community, when we’re young, especially, we have energy, we have relationships, we have skills, we have free time. I mean, we’ve got tons of tools. It just happens to be a very powerful tool.
Daniel: I want to go back to the life review. Can you share what that is? I didn’t know this existed, but I thought it was fantastic. I went through the questions myself. And it’s a hospice, right?
Daniel: You do it with every single patient.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: So not everyone does it with every single patient, but every patient deserves it. So this idea that the doctor, social worker, nurse, chaplain, someone sits down with the patient and goes through a life review, which is just a structured series of questions that ask them about their lives.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: What was important to them? What were their most important moments? Where did they fail? Where did they succeed? What relationships have been key? What things have they achieved? What haven’t they achieved? What are their regrets? And when you go through the structured series of questions, it really helps answer some of these questions.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: What did purpose look like in my life? Who were those important people and what does this mean now that I’ve got to my deathbed and only have a certain amount of time left? It’s a really good way of evaluating your life and seeing who you are and what’s meaningful to you. My argument, of course, is we should be doing this probably on a yearly basis, if not more often. And probably when we’re young, so that we don’t end up again on our death beds and only have a little bit of time to really say, oh, now that I’ve gone through this is what was important to me, and I still have stuff that’s undone.
Daniel: Yeah, I enjoyed going through it. It’s like a fantastic exercise to really, think about what’s. At the end of the day helped remind you of what’s most important. In going through it, I feel like a lot of past struggles can come up out of it.
Daniel: And I think that sometimes is our hangup in making progress. I think everybody’s childhood is, very impactful in how, who we become. And sometimes there’s these big time issues in your past or really holding you back and following your purpose.
Daniel: And I think you can come to light and or realize that and going through this, but I think it’s not.. It typically takes probably a little more work than just, I mean, I think that’s where therapy can be very helpful and digging into that, but it talks about best memory of childhood, what are some of the things you regret, like you said.
Daniel: I would encourage everybody listening to go through this. It took me two hours, but I was doing it in the morning without many distractions. So it’s well worth the two hours to go through it especially. So I do these all the time.
Daniel: I love this kind of thing, but especially if you haven’t done this ever or in a while, it’s a super impactful exercise to start that trek towards living out your purpose.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: I will tell you, most people don’t realize the answers are usually there. In other words, when you take a structured look at your past and start really thinking about what was important to you and why. You do start seeing some of those connections between what was purposeful and meaningful to you.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: Why you did the things you did, and often we see how we get off track, right? Wow. That was really purposeful to me, and I dropped it here. Maybe it was after failure. Maybe it was after I started working and got too busy. And it helps remind you, oh, these things were really important to me. This is when I felt most alive.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: I mean, think about that. Just ask yourself, for anyone out there. Ask yourself, when did I feel most alive? And how often do you bring an awareness of that moment into your everyday life and think, “Hmm these kind of things I was doing when I felt most alive probably are purposeful to me. Probably have some real sense of meaning.”
Dr. Jordan Grumet: It’s just we’re not really good at thinking about these things and being intentional about maybe even recreating some of those feelings.
Daniel: Yeah. Or when did you feel least alive?
Dr. Jordan Grumet: Yeah. Which I think is just as valid and just as important.
Daniel: Yeah. I think of like snow skiing. I could do it all day long and it’s one of those examples of you really feel alive and it’s, you know, you want to do that, lean into more of those things. Like you were saying, like you take out some of the things over time that are less gratifying and add in some of more of the stuff that is in line with your true purpose.
Daniel: As we start to wrap up, I wanted to talk about, if we could, your definitions. I was listening to a podcast, you were describing your different definitions of financial independence. And I thought it was super helpful more just to open up people’s minds to all the different varieties of how it might look and kinda throw out a lot of these like traditional retirement viewpoints, which I don’t think are the most helpful.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: Yeah, I mean I often talk about three different possible definitions of financial independence, but the overall idea is financial independence is having enough money to live a life of purpose, identity, and connection. So I think there are a few different ways to get there.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: One way is to create a huge amount of wealth. Invest it. And when you get to some net worth number, you then have enough money to support yourself without making any more money. I call that frontloading the sacrifice, right? We do a lot of hard work. We make lots of money. We get to this net worth number, and then we retire. We don’t have to work anymore again, and we go live a life of purpose, identity, and connections.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: So that’s one way, and that’s kinda that traditional financial independence retire early way of getting there.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: Right? Back in 2008, 2009, when this started getting more and more popular, that’s what people were doing. They were working at jobs they didn’t love. They were engineers or doctors or lawyers or accountants or teachers. They were like, I’m gonna grind it out. I’m gonna get to this net worth number that’s gonna support me for the rest of their lives.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: Some people call that 25 times yearly spending. Some people talk about something called the safe withdrawal rate of 4%. Just means you spend 4% of invested assets every year. So that’s number one. Front loading the sacrifice, getting to a high net worth number. But there are other ways to look at financial independence.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: Some people are really into passive income and side hustles. So for them, they do this passive income worker side hustle work. And once they make enough money to cover their monthly needs, in a sense they’re financially independent. So imagine that you own a business or your own a bunch of real estate and the money you collect every month can cover your monthly needs.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: A lot of times with passive income and side hustle, you start to build the processes to put it on autopilot, right? So you might own a bunch of real estate, but you’re not going to that real estate every day. Maybe you’re going once a week or once a month to take care of things, but the rest of the time it’s generating revenue for you and you’re living off of that.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: So that’s the second way is through passive income, inside hustles, covering your monthly needs. The last way is, if you think about the I whole idea behind financial independence is to live a purposeful, meaningful life. Let’s say you’re in college, or let’s say you just got outta high school and you start a job that’s incredibly meaningful for you.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: A job that you would do even if you weren’t getting paid for it, but you happen to be getting paid enough to cover your monthly needs, in my opinion. You’re financially independent immediately. So financial independence could look like doing a job that fulfills your sense of passion and meaning in life, and having a long career doing that.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: So to me that’s three different ways. Way one, front loading the sacrifice, getting to a high net worth. Way two, passive income and side hustles. Having enough passive income to cover your monthly needs. Or way three, which is the passion play, which is doing something for work that’s meaningful enough that you’d wanna do it every day anyway.
Daniel: I was listening to someone, I can’t remember who it was, but they said their idea of a solution to burnout in medicine, it’s not about the hours, it’s more about the passion in the work that you do. So when you enjoy your work, it’s completely different.
Daniel: Coming home, it’s like you’re happy to go to work and so it’s one you’re replacing one good thing with, and then you go home and you’re happy to be home.
Daniel: But when you hate work, it’s this cycle of you hate home and you know, you’re, ah, I gotta put the kids to bed. And it’s like also affects your mindset and all that. And, but I think at the end of the day, like ideally we all find work that we really love.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: Yeah, there are a few problems with the passion play. I love it, and I think it’s a great way to reach financial independence. There are a few problems though. One is that you may just not be able to find a job you’re passionate about that you can make enough money doing.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: So let’s say you’re an artist and you love painting and you paint a hundred paintings a day, but only one sells a year.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: Right? So you’re not gonna be able to make a living on that, unfortunately. So it doesn’t work or there’s something that comes from behavioral theory. And we’re seeing this a lot in medicine. Sometimes if we take something we’re highly intrinsically or internally motivated to do a passion and we receive external rewards money for it, it actually kills our passion.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: And we see this a lot in medicine, especially in pay for performance, right. With ACOs and a lot of this kind of stuff, pay for performance, you get paid more for hitting certain metrics. And what it ends up doing is it takes something where we feel like we have a bunch of autonomy and freedom, the practice of medicine. And it makes us feel constraints in order to make money.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: And ultimately we might even make more money, but we find that it kills our passion in doing the job. So you have to be careful. Receiving external rewards for something you’re deeply internally motivated to do can have the opposite effect, and you just have to be careful of that.
Daniel: I realized we had a couple questions here. I want to ask this one cuz I think it’s a really good one. This is from Hugh. So we’re going back to the values exercise and understanding your purpose. He asked if you think it’s helpful to involve other loved ones or your spouse or partner and curious on your comments on that.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: Yeah, I think when you’re talking about the discovery process, we’re talking about kind of purpose and identity, right? Discovering your purpose and identity, especially with identity. Often when you’re getting stuck and you’re like, I don’t know who I am. So when it comes to identity, one of my favorite exercises, ask yourself the question or say the statement “I am”, and really dig deep, right?
Dr. Jordan Grumet: You start with, I am a doctor, and then you go past that and realize it’s your profession. And then you say, I am a father, a son, a spouse. Okay? Those are family relationships. When you get deeper and you start saying things like, for me it was, I am a podcaster, a writer, a public speaker. I realized I am a communicator.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: For me, I was able to go through that process, but a lot of people aren’t. So the next thing I say is go ask your family and friends. Who do they see you as? Sometimes you get caught in your own head and you can’t see things and you ask a family and friends and they’re like, “No, no, no. You’re really good at this.”
Dr. Jordan Grumet: And you’re like, “oh, I never thought about that.” But yes, that’s how I do things. That’s why I’m good at my job. It’s because I have this characteristic or I’m really good at that. So I think bringing in family and friends can be very helpful. It doesn’t relieve you from doing the work yourself but they can give you a nice outside perspective.
Daniel: Yeah, I think in my own experience, I’ve done a lot of this myself, but then I’ll kind of involve my wife after I’ve fine tuned it a little bit and then get her take, because a lot of it ties into our finances and we have to make mutual decisions and that sort of thing. But I think it’s good to do both.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: Exactly. I think you have to do both.
Daniel: Well, I know we’re getting towards the end of time, so I want to make sure, to be respectful for your time. So I had a couple things I wanted to throw out. Of course your book is fantastic. A Hospice Doctor’s Advice on Financial Independence, Building Wealth, and Living a Regret-Free Life. Taking stock is what the book is called. And so I know your Website is a great resource and the podcast I’ve already mentioned. Earn and invest. Are there other places that I missed or places people can find you at?
Dr. Jordan Grumet: The best places to actually go to, jordangrumet.com. J O R D A N G R U M E T.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: You will see links to all the content I create there. So I have a medical blog, which I don’t write at anymore, but I wrote from 2005 to 2018. I have a financial blog called Diversify, you can get to from there. And then the Earn and Invest podcast as well as links to the book. So jordangrumet.com is the easiest way to get to everything.
Daniel: Well Jordan, I appreciate you coming on. Keep up the good work and it’s been a great conversation.
Dr. Jordan Grumet: Thank you for having me. It’s been a blast.