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Why it’s worth it to turn your life around while others already have it all figured out
At a certain time in your life — usually, that’s around the end of your 20s — it starts to feel like all of your friends are getting married and start multiplying.
That is… if they are not like me, quitting their 6-figures jobs and starting a completely new life.
This article is about change, new perspectives and living your dream. And some advice for you folks who are feeling bad for not “having life figured out yet”. Whatever the hell that means anyway.
Here’s to the dreamers. And the brave.
I used to be an anesthetist not long ago. If you don’t know what anesthetists do: We drink coffee and we drug people. Which can be pretty awesome by the way. Anesthetists are the ones making sure that you stay alive during surgery, at the ICU and on the road as emergency physicians.
What’s not so awesome about that is that you’re constantly around dying people.
While you might think that saving lives is awesome (which it is to a degree) there’s more to the job than running into the room, slapping those defibrillator paddles onto chests, blasting some electricity through a patient and getting patted on the back for being cool.
It’s a sh*tload of stress.
And if we’re honest, most of the time you aren’t saving anybody and people just die.
So after about a decade of emergency medicine, I started to feel out of balance. I was working too much and in our profession reducing the workload is mostly not possible.
You work 100% — which, where I worked, is around 50–60 hours per week— or you work 0%.
Eat sh*t & make $$$
I used to be o.k. with that for a long time actually.
It was always my intention to work for 15–20 years and make enough money to chill the rest of my life, traveling and doing all the other stuff I enjoy, like writing and doing sports.
But when you’re on your job and see all those people at around your age that die from car crashes, cancers or other diseases you start to ask yourself more and more if it’s truly worth it.
What we’re essentially doing is that we’re trading time of our lives for money.
And there’s one big mistake we make here: We all believe we’re going to live happily and die at a hundred years old. But that’s not the case. Many of us will die long before that. And a few of us will actually die young.
The question is: Are you willing to risk it?
You could argue that I’m probably biased because of the very fact that I have seen so many people die at my age.
I, on the other hand, could argue that it’s actually you who is biased because you have *not* seen how many of us go west at our age.
We’d both be right because we’re both biased.
It doesn’t matter though because, in the end, it’s just probabilities.
But let’s forget about our biases for a second and look at the data:
What are the odds for a 35-year-old male to die within the next 10 years? Have a guess.
It’s 2.13%. That’s one out of 47. The question is: Are we willing to risk that?
What if your intention was to eat sh*t for 20 years and make some mad money and in year 14 you get hit by a bus and go toes up?
Then you’d be the perfect example for others of how to screw up your life. The unfortunate thing about that is that you can’t buy any ice cream anymore to celebrate that achievement.
When you hit the wall, walk around it
Combine the fact that you are getting close to a burnout with a bunch of books about philosophy and self-improvement and you get an explosive combination of: “Sh*t, I can’t do this anymore”.
So there I was. At the end of my 20s, the big 3 approaching while my best friend, having life figured out like a champ, tells me he’s about to become a father. (Gogogo, Papa Betzi, by the way!)
I hit a wall in my life. I did years ago but this was the point I realized that I had constantly tried to break it down by force. All the books I read had opened up my mind to realize that next to breaking it down there’s actually another way of dealing with the wall:
You can also just walk around it.
A decade for an epiphany
It must have been around ten years ago now that I watched a video on YouTube that contained a part of a talk by Alan Watts.
At this point in my life I can — without a doubt — say that it was this short clip of a British philosopher talking about money that lead me to change my life completely.
“If you say that money is the most important thing, you’ll end up completely wasting your time. You’ll be doing things you don’t like doing in order to go on living, which is to go on doing things you don’t like doing… Which is stupid.” — Alan Watts
I’ll link the video at the end of the article for you so you can check it out if you want to.
It took a decade but it was like a seed that had been planted in my mind. The idea was there and starting to read Alan Watts’ work and other books on the topic of philosophy and self-improvement nurtured it like a plant that grew and grew.
Until it got so big last year that I actually noticed it while trying to break down the wall. It was like I got hit by an epiphany. Right in the face.
“Why the hell am I doing this at all? What for? Is this truly worth it?”
It’s not that I didn’t like what I was doing. Anesthesia is a great field and the work is cool. But it takes its toll after a while. And the workload and stress can be brutal sometimes.
It got to a point where I had to choose between health and making money and I just didn’t want that anymore. I wanted do get up every morning excited to go to work because I didn’t just like it… I wanted to love it. Every second of it.
“I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” – Steve Jobs
So I did what any sensible idiot would do: I quit my job and started writing.
And the fact of the matter is: I’ve absolutely loved every single day since the day I quit. I don’t dread the approaching doom also called “Monday” on Saturday evenings anymore.
No, not all days have been easy thus far and from time to time anxiety hits and calls me an idiot for “throwing it all away”. But that’s alright because I guess that’s what happens to anybody taking a risk in life to follow their dreams.
Do I know what the future holds and if I’ll be able to live off my writing at some point? I have no idea, but it sure as hell is worth a try.
So let me end with giving you one advice if I may:
Forget the nonsense about wasting a few years of your life doing something that doesn’t give you joy every single day and step out of the comfort zone. Risk it. If you’re one of the few who actually do, you are one of the few to truly get a chance to make it.
If you become a master in your field, the money will show up on its own.
And as Alan Watts says: “It’s the only way to become a master of something. To be really with it.”
After all, if you’ve spent your life trying, what does it matter if you didn’t make boatloads of money doing it? If you enjoyed every single day of your life you will die without regret no matter if it’s at 30 or 120 years.
Thanks for reading, have a wonderful day.