My real estate portfolio kept me financially secure through the crises of one very sick child (leukemia and a liver transplant by age 12), a divorce and a failed practice sale.
In 2004, I spent many days bedside or in the surgery waiting rooms at Texas Children’s Hospital while my daughter Jenna, resiliently fought through what seemed to be constant post-transplant recovery complications.
During that year, I found myself splitting time between the hospital and my practice some five hours away outside of Dallas…often a week in one place and a week in the other.
In my own mind, as the senior doctor and owner of the practice, I had always thought that without me, the practice would greatly suffer. After all, I had built the practice and certainly the majority of the patients came to the practice because of me.
That was a negative and self-limiting belief. Anyone who owns a business that is solely or majority dependent on him or her does not have a real business…they own a job…period.
To my shock and surprise, the practice continued to run without me during the weeks that I was in Houston with Jenna. It was as productive without me, the overhead was covered and more importantly, the patient flow was not disrupted. (I almost always had an associate dentist in the practice with me).
My perceived need as the head dentist and chief bottle-washer had figuratively kept me chained to a daily schedule grind much longer than necessary…simply because of my inaccurate beliefs.
Seeing for the first time, the error in my conviction about my necessity and importance in the practice, I ran some financial numbers, calculating my passive cash flow and equities in real estate, the potential sale value of the practice, and our lifestyle overhead costs.
What I found was that with just a little bit of tweaking of our home budget, I could afford to sell the practice, re-invest the proceeds in real estate and have enough cash flow not to have to work another day as a dentist. Freedom was just around the corner!
Bam! I went to work and immediately put the practice up for sale – within four weeks I had a committed younger dentist with the ability and desire to buy me out within a relatively short time. (Unfortunately, this sale failed as I sold the practice and carried the financing…a story for another time.)
The good news is that this bump in the road did not deter my goal to never be dependent on my active labor again – I later re-sold the practice for 100% cash to another dentist – happy ending –lessons learned.
That day in 2004 was a major turning point in my life. I gave myself permission to step away from my chosen career path – the one in which I had devoted a huge amount of time and financial investment to achieve…to a life of true freedom…and most importantly, the ability to spend time with Jenna whether she was sick or well.
Today, Jenna is almost twenty-four years old, has continued to survive occasional setbacks, and has developed into a strong young lady. As a dad, I’ve had the freedom to spend as much quality time with her as she will tolerate. ☺
The path to freedom is simple, if you know the way.
There is no such day as “someday.” Now is all we have.