When did you know you wanted to be a doctor?
Whenever that point occurred, you started reverse engineering your life without knowing it. You started with the goal in mind – to be a doctor – and you figured out what steps it would take for you to get there. Then you went out with relentless passion and drive and made it happen or are making it happen. That’s exactly what it means to reverse engineer something – start with the goal in mind and essentially figure out how to get there.
For some of you that decision was made in high school and so you figured out that you needed to go to a good college and then to medical school. Of course you might’ve hit some bumps along the way (maybe you needed to take a year or two off to do research to improve your application) but you never took your eyes off of the prize.
However, once most of us reach the promised land, we seem to have forgotten how reverse engineering works. We just let our jobs and others dictate how our lives will end up. Have to work 50 weeks out of the year to get 2 weeks free? Well, I guess I have no choice. Work to the bone until we’re 65 so we can hopefully retire with enough to last the rest of our lives? Sure, I guess there’s no other way.
You don’t know how many doctors I’ve heard express the desire to retire early someday or wish for a different trajectory in life. However, whenever I ask them what their plan is to get there, they don’t have a clue. For some reason, we’ve forgotten how to reverse engineer our way to our goals.
Well, we know it won’t happen by chance. We also know that the field of medicine probably isn’t headed in the right direction to help you realize your ideal life.
So what do we do?
Well, it starts by taking real steps in the right direction. Here’s my simple guide to reverse engineering your life:
1) Start by figuring out what you want your life to be like in 5, 10, 20, 30 years. Consider your career, family, location, and lifestyle as you do this. Write it down.
2) Figure out whether your current situation is likely to get you to those goals. (Be honest.) If it is, then great, you’re good to go, keep doing what you’re doing and stop reading here. If not, continue on and here’s where it gets interesting.
3) This is where you need to work it all out. What exact steps and changes do you need to make to get you on the path to your goals? Maybe it’s a different job/position, maybe it’s making smart investments that produce passive income to free up time, or maybe it’s moving to a different state altogether. Get specific.
Personally, I try to do this assessment at least twice a year just to make sure my eyes are still on the prize.
Realize that this life is the only one you have and it’s never too late to make adjustments.