Quitting Medicine


Hey friends,

Forgive me for yet another email about leaving medicine lol, but it’s still a pretty big thing in my head, and these weekly emails are a form of public journaling so 🤷‍♀️

Anyway, this week I got a pretty important email from the UK General Medical Council:

I knew this was coming – I hung up my stethoscope a few months ago and asked for my license to be withdrawn.

Still, it was scary seeing the email in my inbox. As a doctor, when you get contacted by the GMC you automatically think “oh shit have I done something wrong”. They’re essentially the doctor police, who deal with serious complaints and medical tribunals, and they can even ban you from practising medicine for life.

So yeah. It felt like this whole quitting being a doctor thing was getting serious.

My first response was “crap, is this a bad decision? Do I really want to burn my ships? How viable is being a full-time-creator anyway?” My second response though, was to realise that I’m making the right decision. Let’s look at the upsides and the downsides.

Upsides – Quitting medicine to be a full-time creator / entrepreneur has infinite upsides: I can choose where to live, how I want to work, and who I collaborate with. I can take my business in almost any direction, and I have plenty of time to write books, travel, etc. For me, being a full-creator feels way more intense and exciting than being a doctor. Side note – I’m not saying that all doctors feel this way, and if you’re a doctor reading this, you’re very welcome to disagree. I’m just saying it’s true for me 😀

Downsides – Now let’s look at the downsides. If I run Tim Ferriss’ fear-setting exercise and define the worst possible outcome of me quitting medicine… it’s really not that bad. Let’s say my business fails, my channel gets demonetised, and I make no money. I could easily go back to being a doctor by filling out a few application forms and taking an exam. Sure, I’d be a little behind on the career ladder compared to other doctors my age, but I really don’t care about being older than a few people. Besides, lots of doctors work on a PhD for 3-4 years before starting to practise full-time / take time out to have kids or to explore other interests. So the realistic worst-case scenario is “go back to Medicine but be a few years ‘behind’ some other colleagues who went through the training programme ‘on time’ and didn’t take any breaks”. That sounds to me like the definition of ‘not a big deal lol’.

This also relates to an anxiety a lot of people have about quitting their job and trying something new.

One more thing – since very publicly announcing my decision to leave medicine, I’ve had a bunch of conversations with friends and ex-colleagues thinking of leaving their jobs too, and trying to weigh up the pros and cons. One thing I’ve noticed, which is what Paul Millerd points out in his excellent book The Pathless Path too, is that we all tend to underestimate our ingenuity. We think ‘if I quit my job, and plan X doesn’t work out, I’ll have nothing to do, and then I’ll be broke and homeless and unhappy and no one will love me’. One of the main problems is the leap from ‘plan X not working out’ to ‘I’ll have nothing to do’. There’s always stuff to do. We underestimate our ability to figure things out, to adjust, to make plans on the fly and execute them.

We even underestimate our ability to just get another job if we absolutely have to. If you’re quitting a £30k/year job, it feels like a £30k/year risk. But if you’re in that position, you could probably pretty easily land a £27k/year job at any time if you wanted to. So really, it’s not a £30k risk you’re taking by quitting. It’s a £3k risk you’re taking. And that’s almost always a risk worth taking.

Have a great week!

Ali xx

🗒️😲 My new stationery brand

This has been on my bucket list for at least four years, and now it’s finally happening… I’m launching my own stationery brand 😀 It’s called Essentiali (pronounced “essentially) and includes a to-do list, a chunky productivity planner, and some mini notebook – all looking super slick. Launches tomorrow, on Jan 31st – keep an eye out on the Insta page🚀

♥️ My Favourite Things

🎧 Audiobook – No Rules Rules by Reed Hastings and Erin Meyer. About how Netflix got so big, which the CEO Reed Hastings puts down to their culture of “no rules” rules. Basically, instead of having loads of rules and regulations, Netflix focus on hiring amazing staff, then let them do whatever they want (ish). One of their somewhat scary ideas is “adequate performance gets a generous severance package”.

🎧 Audiobook – The Cult of ‘We’: WeWork and the Great Startup Delusion by Eliot Brown and Maureen Farrell. I worked a lot at the Cambridge WeWork back in 2019, so it was interesting to get more info on the whole WeWork implosion. One of the authors actually wrote an article back in 2017 predicting it: A $20 Billion Startup Fueled by Silicon Valley Pixie Dust (paywall). I’m around 30% through the book, and we’re going through the early days of the founder and how the company first got started. Interesting stuff.

🧘‍♂️ Acroyoga – Did my first Acroyoga (acrobatic yoga) session yesterday. Basically yoga in the air, where one partner is the ‘base’ (me, because I’m hench), and holds up their partner who’s the ‘flyer’. Really fun, but damn I need to work on my hamstring flexibility.

📷 Camera – Leica Q2. After paying silly money for this camera a few months ago (£4675) I’ve finally started using it on the reg. Really good, far nicer photos than an iPhone. Also looks super legit.

✍️ Quote of the Week

Things rarely get stuck because of lack of time. They get stuck because what “doing” would look like, and where it happens, hasn’t been decided.

From Getting Things Done by David Allen. Resurfaced using Readwise.

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