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Fear, Skydiving & The Search for Freedom and The Golden Mean

It is Tuesday September 3rd, 2019 and Welcome to the Birthday of PivotPointsMD!
It feels like I have been staring at this blank page all my adult life waiting to embrace and overcome my fears, insecurities, and perfectly imperfect perfectionism to start this blog and launch this and other entrepreneurial and creative ideas like it.  My biggest enemy to progress and change has always been my own brain and a blank page.  Time to invert this thinking and turn my brain on its head and against itself.
I literally thought I would have to go jump out of a perfectly good plane to “get on my ass” and do this. As is too often the case for us humans in finance and in life, I lost to my Neanderthal brain by “strategically” procrastinating and, for my Neo-Cortex, jumping out of a perfectly good plane clipped to someone else eventually seemed like just a little too much time, money, work, and risk just for a first blog post. Not necessarily for a second one though! I really still do want to experience 45 seconds of terrifying physical free fall before I cancel my life insurance. Does anyone care to join me? Like the more recent additions of blogging & podcasting, sky diving has been on my running life list of dreams, goals, and fears to overcome. It has remained there unrequited since residency when the late afternoon summer thunderclouds rolled in as my friends and I eagerly stood flight-suited up on the edge of an Illinois crop duster’s corn field. On that day our immortal and impulsive journey to skydive was scrubbed to some future date. Does this “dream deferred” sound oddly familiar?

Fast-forward 20 years. My sky diveless story sounds uncannily like my “Journey From Financial Illiteracy.” I may now be a highly trained, skilled, experienced, and reasonably competent Emergency Physician in my own mind and in those of a few others. Unfortunately, when you see me at work it is generally one of the worst days of your life, or it should be; we are The EMERGENCY Room! I may specialize in saving lives, saving deaths, and everything in between, but believe it when I say that, just a few short years ago, I literally couldn’t financially save, invest, or plan my way out of a recycled paper bag. No, not every Physician and human being can be William Bernstein, MD, The White Coat Investor, a Physician on FIRE, a Passive Income MD, or The Physician Philosopher – good folks I am proud to have met and count as friends and mentors. For most all of the rest of us, “life happens” a little more, and it can be really, really messy. The good news is we can choose to WAKE UP from our own status quo and inertia! We can all PausePlan, & Pivot. We can all get a Second Chance @ Finance. We are #never2late2FI or #never2far2freedom!

  • Pause.  I have read every book and blog and listened to every podcast and watched every vlog I can get my hands on related to the Mindset and Mechanics (Skills & Tools) of Personal Finance and Investing. 
  • Plan. I have mind mapped out our Financial and Life Plan with my wife Caryn and written it down.
  • Pivot. I have taken back and continue to restructure our entire financial life after abdicating it long ago in Financial Overwhelm to The Industrial Financial Services Sales Complex (IFSSC). I manage our risk as we travel towards our dreams with goals and plans.

On December 17, 2018 I started Financial Literacy Project with one member…ME. Frankly, my family was tired of hearing me “lecture” about finance all the time. I really needed some place to express myself and help others by curating the best in multimedia FinLit content I found on my voracious consumption journey. Nine months later we are a diverse and inclusive tribe of over 1200. We are a place where “Everyone Else” has fun getting FinLit! My “early adopter” son is member 501. His fraternal twin brother joined us as later adopter member 1001 once the coast was clear and it was officially cool to be in Dad’s little group along with his friends.

As of this date, I have now guested on 3 quality podcasts (What’s Up Next?Doctors Unbound, & Financial Residency) and hosted a handful of Facebook Lives in a series on FinLitPro called “Money Stories and More” to share real people’s stories and passions of Financial Wins, Losses, and Recovery. My goal is to encourage our financial youth and other “lost generation” messy mid-lifers like me to join the journey to Financial Independence or to at least learn from and hopefully avoid the financial mistakes that I and so many others have made.

Unbelievably, tomorrow, my wife, biggest fan, and muse and I will fly to #FinCon19, where “Money and Media Meet”& Money Nerds like us drink a lot of beer or something like that. The best part of getting out of our echo chamber and comfort zone is that we finally get to meet so many of my/our new friends. That is, once again, as long as the Mother Nature and dear old unpredictable Hurricane Dorian cooperates. Plan B, gotta have a few of those in our financial lives as well, is a llllong drive listening to…you guessed it…our favorite podcasts!

Ah yes, deadlines will be and do what deadlines have always been and done. I guess they don’t call ‘em deadlines for nothing. I really do want to have something more for folks to digest on my shiny new website other than “Under Construction”, a heavy comment or a curated repost or share. A blank page that I have reimagined for you who have landed here due to some wild click, search, or marginal use for 1000 new business cards QR code linked to this site and to our first internet “child” born on December 17, 2018 @Financial Literacy Project. This website domain has hibernated long enough since August 1, 2018 in fact. It is time for it and me along with it to come out of the FinCloset, join the Haystack of Content Creation, and hopefully add some Signal to the Noise.

With that long-winded preamble, here is what I really wanted to say…

Whether or not we recognize it and engage in it now, later, or never, we are all on a common Quest! Our time is finite; available resources are limitless. Visible and invisible common friend and foe alike await us on our paths. The more insidious and tenacious villains and unexpected and robust allies may just be the ones that lurk within us on our individual paths and common journey. Alone we may travel faster, but together we will travel further and stand to reap greater rewards in patience and collaboration.

No, this is not a game!  Gameifying the journey, however, may not only be more fun, but essential to our ultimate success.  Of what Quest do I speak?  No we are not on The Yellow Brick Road and our way is not paved with gold.  “Lions and Tigers and Bears Oh My” are not our friends or foes.  The Crusades and The Search for the Golden Fleece happened long ago. This modern version of the ancient game we seek to play may slightly resemble Chutes and Ladders, but it has much higher stakes like our Safety, Security, and Self-Determination. The Quest of which I speak is our Search for Freedom and The Golden Mean.

What does Freedom mean to you?

What is your Golden Mean?

I urge you to Pause, Plan & Pivot towards actively answering these questions. Go ahead, I’ll wait…

Take a minute. Take two.

Take a breath.

I now ponder my answers to these challenging and seemingly asymptotically unanswerable questions almost daily. For me, the evolving answer to these fundamental questions is critical to a successful life’s journey. The individual goal may be ultimately to “die with memories not dreams”. The collective goal may be to have left a legacy to our “NextGen” children and physical world of a wealthier, more sustainable, renewable, and peaceful version of the world in which we journeyed well.

Freedom is elusive. In the external world, it is a little like Pornography, “I know it when I see it!” We often give it away without thinking twice about it and really don’t know what we have until it is gone. When we don’t have it we are restricted dependent captives of our fear and liabilities. But when we really have it we are free to give of our time and resources without concern for our own reasonable needs and wants. In our internal worlds, it can literally be anything we want it to be, a place no one can take it from us. Just ask Viktor Frankl if you don’t believe me!

The Golden Mean is equally elusive. Represented by many things in mathematics, nature, history, and philosophy, Phi is one of its symbols for mathematical and emotional balance or harmony. While certainly journey-worthy, and an icon I choose to use to represent this blog and website, it too is likely unobtainable for mere mortals like me. That fact does not make its pursuit any less valuable! Life’s recursively circular Odyssey from birth to death is really one of dusty dependence to dependence. When the messy and juicy middle of growth and the complete journey to Freedom is fully embraced, predictable stages and milestones of developmental maturity, financial and otherwise will ensue. From the Innocence, Pain, Fear, and Scarcity of our Childhoods to the Knowledge, Understanding, Vigor, Vision, Joy, Calm, and Abundance of our Adulthoods we must choose to Grow and Adapt, our uniquely human superpowers. Just ask George Kinder if you don’t believe me!

So what is the bottom line for a first real blog post? Be Grateful for where you are and Start Now! There really is no time like the present to start this journey. Chronologic and Developmental Financial Maturity can be quite dislocated from each other. I should know. I “Rip Van Winkeled” my financial life for years until I pulled my 49 year-old, mid-lifed head out of the Primordial Ooze and began “DIYing” my own Financial Health and Wealth Care Life with the help of countless virtual and very real mentors financially, emotionally, physically, and mentally. Let me close the books on this post with a heartfelt Thank You to everyone who has helped me on this Journey in more ways than you will ever likely know. In this more often virtual cart-before-the-horse world of global geographic arbitrage and possibility in relationship building, I look forward to meeting all of you. Just do not expect me to, and please forgive me if, I do not remember your name the first or the fifth time!:)


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V.A. 56 yrs old Background: Like many, I did not have any financial literacy education growing up. I was told to work hard, don’t depend

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