“He or she who laughs last at the boss’s jokes probably isn’t far from retirement.”
–Anonymous (and you wonder why)
Today is my 40th birthday. I’m probably at the halfway point of my life, so I figured a good gift to myself would be a little time-shifting post. I hope you enjoy it. – Jason
A recent meme that has sprung up on the Internet is of people interviewing their past or future selves. The one that started it all was when Jeremiah McDonald interviewed his 12 year old self (note: some content may be inappropriate).
The idea of being able to go forward or backwards in time to learn or communicate things is nothing new. Michael J. Fox went back in time to save a friend in Back to the Future. H.G. Wells wrote about a character who went forward and backwards through time in The Time Machine
. I personally don’t look at hot tubs in the same way since Hot Tub Time Machine.
Looking forward to the future often serves as an escape valve for negative times in the present. As Steve Taylor of Leeds Metropolitan University explains, we use these escape valves so frequently and so subtly that we often don’t notice when we’ve mentally slipped from the present to the future.
Your personal vision of the future can also help cement your commitment in the present to reach those goals. As a study from the Edwin Locke of the University of Maryland and Gary Latham of the University of Toronto showed, commitment to goals can be improved through setting strong visions. In this context, they discussed leaders setting visions to help people within organizations commit to goals, but the same can apply to your personal life.
You can set your own personal vision to help you achieve your goals
A big goal I have and one that I hope you, as my readers, share is in accelerating retirement – reaching a point where I am not dependent on working income to meet my needs. One of the things I have done to help set that vision is to write my present self a letter from my future self celebrating the one year anniversary of my retirement. I’ll probably rewrite it as both my personal goals change and I evolve and as I get closer to the date where I’ll be that future self.
Here it is.
Here’s lookin’ at you kid. At least, you’re more of a kid than I am. You should try this. The water’s fine. In fact, why don’t you hurry up already? The quicker you get here, the younger I’ll be!
Life here is fine. I’ve found plenty of things to do. I know you worried about me being bored. Well, so far, that’s far from the case. A person can only sit around and do nothing for so long. Plus, I have to keep active. I don’t want to get a gut.
Here are some things that I want to thank you for:
- Thanks for taking care of me. I mean that in every way. Not just for investing enough and sacrificing a little so I’d have enough to live on, but in other ways. Thanks for taking care of your body. It has some wear and tear, but at least it’s not a prison because you abused it. Thanks for taking care of yourself mentally and spiritually. I still have a sense of curiosity and a personal peace because you learned long ago what was important in life.
- Thanks for not taking too many risks. Neither of us might have survived if you took too many risks! Still, that one time we…anyway…
- Thanks for working hard to make and keep friends. The ones who were worth having are still here.
- Thanks for always keeping one eye out for what would happen in the future. I know you used to talk about Monkey Brain all the time. He’s still here, but he didn’t win.
But, you know, time goes by quickly. It goes by even more quickly as you get older. So, let me try to pass down some wisdom to you. Not that you’ll take it. You whippersnappers never listen.
- Time is finite. Once it’s gone, you can never get it back, so make sure you use every second wisely. There’s a lot of wasted time I can count, and I can’t do anything about it. Except, of course, I can warn you.
- The things that matter are finite, too. There are only so many things you can concentrate on, so make sure what you focus your life on what counts.
- Stop dreaming about the future so much. It’ll get here. Quickly.
- Don’t forget about the future, either. Do things and have fun, but don’t forget about little old me down the road.
- Life is transitory, so make sure that you have some anchors. You’ll move. Others will move. You won’t be the same person when you go to bed at night as you were when you woke up in the morning. It helps to have some things which are constant no matter what else happens around you.
- Do the things which require physical capability while you can. The hills don’t get any less steep in the future, and you are a lot more capable of climbing them than I am, so get to the top of some of them and enjoy the view.
I’m going to close this out. I have stuff to do! You know what you need to know to get here, anyway, so just go out and do it!
I’ll send a postcard next time!
What questions would you want to know from your future self? What would your future self’s letter look like? Tell us in the comments below!