Doctors are always busy. It’s easy to be distracted by saving people’s lives, attending to the well-being of your own family, finding time to exercise, manage a medical practice, teach medical students, prepare and deliver lectures, write articles, etc.
When doctors do finally have a spare moment, they are often fatigued and unable to focus on financial decisions. After an intense and long day they come home to a crying baby and tired spouse (or tired baby and crying spouse)—not a setting that lends itself to reading and learning about financial decision making.
Let’s face it. Finance is not a stimulating subject for most people. Most people find financial decisions confusing and frustrating, leading to a natural reaction—putting them off.
Perhaps most importantly, doctors are actually trained to put off taking action. (Yes, really!) Consider the “first, do no harm” tenet of medical science. This is a procrastination principle (Yes, I know there is a very profound element to this guideline, which I am ignoring, but please bear with me). Doctors are trained not to interfere when the body’s natural defenses appear to be doing their job, or there is a chance they can do their job. As long as a patient appears to be stable, not taking any action (what I’m calling procrastination) can be the best strategy. Rather than engaging in intrusive surgery or administration of powerful drugs with potentially harmful side effects, the order of the day is—do nothing—let the body heal itself if possible.
In the business and investing world, procrastination is the insidious unseen killer. It steadily undermines our financial health, and its effects are only realized years later when it’s no longer possible to make up for lost time.
To relate to this fully, we must understand the time value of money.