For an audio version of this post, please click on the speaker icon (top left).
For those who have been following my most recent burnout story that started at the end of 2020, I had mentioned that having financial independence actually magnified the effects of burnout on me.
It was a strange/unusual take because the majority of individuals who have reached financial independence often say the exact opposite, as they are able to tailor work to reduce the clinical aspects they do not like.
So what gives?
Well as I tried to explain, the fact that I was financially independent really made the situation more unbearable because I had to constantly deal with the thoughts in the back of my mind of why don’t I just quit and pack up shop.
In my grand scheme of things, this was not quite the road I had planned to take at this stage of life, hence the emotional struggle, which made the burnout situation all the worse.
I actually think one becomes less tolerant of minor annoyances when money is not as strong a driving force as it used to be.
As mentioned in the previous post, what was probably the straw that broke the camel’s back was that the 3rd radiologist we had anticipated adding in May 2021 (because of a 6 month notice to leave requirement) at the last minute decided not to take our offer and stay at his current location.
Seeing that glimmer of hope vanish, as well as the current radiologist covering our day off each week announcing his full retirement at the end of April, made the future look very bleak indeed.
After my sit down with the board president expressing my frustrations and the possibility that I would not be able to work here much longer at this pace, a chain of events was set in motion that truly was quite remarkable.
Within a week of the meeting, the president-elect of the board came to my office and said this was a priority at the board level to help alleviate the situation for me.
I mentioned to him that I was quite crestfallen that the potential 3rd radiologist ended up staying at his current place of employment.
Both my partner and I had worked with him years before when he rotated through to help provide coverage for days off (prior to the current situation) and knew he would be a good fit.
And this is where some outside of the box thinking occurred.
The president elect said “What if we make him an offer he can not refuse?” which immediately conjured up images of the Godfather for me.
My curiosity piqued, I asked him to elaborate.
He asked what if we offer him a guaranteed salary substantially more than what he originally asked for in the first negotiations.
This proposition came with a string attached.
In order for my group to feel comfortable with raising the salary offer ante, the board wanted to ensure that the imaging volume we were expecting could actually support it.
They asked if I was willing to actually reduce my clinical days from 4 days a week to 3 days a week.
It was pretty much exactly what I wanted to do at this stage of my career: reduce my clinical hours and sort of start on a glide path to full retirement.
Trying to contain my excitement, I gave the board the green light.
I am quite fortunate that the financial impact of going from working 4 days a week to 3 days a week will be minimal to my overall household finances.
I already experienced a 60% reduction in my salary from the board mandate during the height of the COVID-19 lockdown when study volumes decreased so dramatically that my partner and I ended up placing ourselves on self-furloughs.
I do not anticipate losing income from this extra day off to approach this previous reduction in cashflow, which provides me with a certain comfort level.
With my blessing the board therefore sent out an unsolicited contract offer with higher guaranteed salary to our desired radiologist partner.
And drum roll….
We received the signed contract back and he informed his current position that he is requesting leave.
It actually came as quite a shock because the reasons why he originally chose to stay put remained (hassle of moving, needing to sell his house, schooling for kids, etc).
But the increased salary offer really was too good an offer to pass up and I guess it more than compensated for the factors that were making him stay there.
Of course because of his stipulated 6 month notice to end work there, the earliest he can start working in my group will be the first week of August.
This of course means that there will be several months (May-July) that my partner and I will have to work without any coverage relief.
But I still am elated because there is relief in sight
Although there can be some unexpected negative shade thrown your way by “colleagues” if you began to reveal the fact that you are burning out at work, I think it is still vital to let people know rather than bottle it up.
In this case, it was indeed heartwarming to see how my situation became a high board priority and just how quickly the board sprung into action to help correct the situation as fast as possible.
The passive income streams that took several years to create, and a lot of sacrifice, have now repaid that effort in spades by picking up the slack created with my reduced clinical time.
I know a few examples of colleagues going down to a 3 day work week that have stated it was the best thing they have ever done for their mental/emotional health and that their careers were prolonged because of it.
I hope I can add my name to the fold.
If you are in search of financial help, please consider enlisting the service of any of the sponsors of this blog who I feel are part of the “good guys and gals of finance.”
Even a steadfast DIY’er can sometimes gain benefit from the occasional professional input.
NOTE: The website XRAYVSN contains affiliate links and thus receives compensation whenever a purchase through these links is made (at no further cost to you). As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Although these proceeds help keep this site going they do not have any bearing on the reviews of any products I endorse which are from my own honest experiences. Thank you- XRAYVSN
Awesome dude! Part time is the best thing ever, you reduce stress greatly but still get to stay in the game. I hope it works out for you!
Thanks Dave. Yeah it was quite the turn of events for me and provided me with something to look forward to. That change in mental outlook really has done wonders as I feel like I can now make it till then when life should get considerably better for me
Congratulations on this excellent turn of events. This is a great example of how decisions made years ago can make your life better today (or in August).
Thank you so much for the comment! Yes I could not believe how quickly things changed from feeling all time lows at work to now being able to design a better work life for me. Summer cannot get here fast enough. Lol
This is an amazing ending to your recent burnout flare up. Very happy to hear this end up this way. It shows that relationships can really help quality of life – if you were not liked by the board or your colleagues, they likely would not have thought outside the box to help you out. I’m interested to hear how everything continues to unfold over the next few months.
Thanks Alex for the kind words. Yeah one of the great things that I got out of this was that they really did value me in this institution and recognized they could have lost me if things continued to progress the way they were going. And the out of the box thinking really appealed to me and in the end it worked out perfectly. Definitely will update when the new partner joins and hopefully everyone is happy with their work-life situation because of it. Have a great day!
Fantastic! All the best as you reduce hours. I’m there but not quite there. As the FI bloggers say: “there’s finite time, but infinite money.”
Really appreciate the kind words. As I grow older I realize just how important time is and to actually enjoy what remains. I’m 2 months away from turning 50 which is the age my dad (a physician) passed away, so I know that time is not guaranteed. I hope you get to the point where you are living your best life. All the best and thanks for stopping by!
Congratulations on the turn of events. I’m glad administration gave you an ear. You are a survivor who would’ve ended up on your feet but it might’ve been a big pain for you.
Thank you so much! Yeah, I’m one of those people that is ruled by Newton’s law of inertia (more specifically the object at rest part). Takes a Herculean effort for me to get motivated to enact change 🙂 But yeah, I’m thrilled at how it played out and now have something to look forward to. Thanks for the support and kind words 🙂
Three days per week has been perfect for me. I’m very productive when I’m working and can do more than my share in the allotted time. I wouldn’t want to work more or less at this point.
Isn’t amazing how well we can negotiate when we have FI in our back pocket?
I knew you were loving the 3-day work week, so I am hoping I can get to that level of work zen too 🙂 Yeah, when you are not as driven to earn the dollars (which have a diminishing return the more you make anyway), you can take advantage of something that improves you mental outlook instead.
Congrats. I think it’s a good example of if you don’t ask you can’t expect to receive.
Exactly! In my case I was just notifying them that I could not continue like this and would explore other options if things could not change.
Amazed it worked out the way it did
Great work! It sounds like you and your partner are contracted by the hospital?
I’d say this is the best case scenario, because it allows you to keep one foot in the door while cutting back. Many doctors/specialties don’t have that option.
I actually work at a physician owned multispecialty clinic (about 70 docs).
It definitely is the best scenario I could have hoped for. In the past I was hoping I could cut down on clinical days to the minimum where I would qualify for medical benefits etc.
I agree that Radiology certainly does lend itself better to this kind of arrangement.
Xray, Can’t tell you how thrilled I am for this latest twist – that’s a beautiful example of turning a plank into an extended runway. Having arrived at FI was precisely the position of negotiating strength that enabled this to happen. When you told admin that continuing this understaffed work environment, and especially losing a good match for your group, was not going to be sustainable, they clearly listened because they understood you didn’t need the money and weren’t willing to accept the continued aggravation. Bravo on your next adventure. As a huge fan of cutting back, I can only… Read more »
Thank you so much CD for the comment. Yeah it really was such a complete 180 how I felt about work before and after this incredible development.
I love the plank to runway concept and that truly is what happened. I’m truly looking forward to going down to 3 days a week which might allow me to extend my career longer than the path I was currently on.