Recently, a friend and I were discussing the advice we’d give to our younger selves. I’d thought about this countless times before.
Although this has been a recurring concept in my thoughts previously, in this particular moment I’ve decided how negative such thinking was.
Considering what advice you’d give yourself in the past seems too full of regret at the decisions you did make. It negates a life already lived.
A life well lived isn’t about regrets and wishing one had done something differently. It is about doing right, and better, and continuing to move forward and upwards.
So I was inspired…
My bud and I are both aspiring writers, so I suggested we attempt something new in our work. What if we considered what future versions of ourselves would tell us today if they had the chance. What advice and cautions would they give? What key learnings and shortcuts would they share?
So, here it is, my letter from my future self.
Greetings from your future.
In my time we now have the technology to send messages into the past. It’s pretty awesome!
I wanted my first message sent into time to be to you, or me (or whatever). What better person could there be?
After you’re done getting over the Marty McFly-esque shock, you’ll ask yourself, How the heck can they do that? Then you’ll ponder, What does my future self want to tell me?
First off, I want to thank you. It is because of you that I have achieved the success and prosperity that I currently enjoy. Your constant and continual self-assessment, and subsequent decisiveness and action, have led to me being, well, me.
You’ve suffered so much pain and failure. That was the cost you paid in figuring life out as you went, but it was always worth it. You never had a defeat you didn’t learn from. Those growing pains strengthened and hardened you tremendously.
You shared your knowledge, experiences, failures, and best practices whenever it was welcomed. You even celebrated those who found much greater success than your own.
And you accepted those who didn’t want positive change. You respected their choice to remain victims, and moved on.
You laughed when it was time to laugh; and sometimes when it wasn’t. You got serious and hustled, when that was what was needed and appropriate.
You quieted your mind, as well as your mouth. You learned that ducking your head and running between the tackles was a far better choice than running your yap and constantly getting taken down.
It was all about the grind, grit, and muscle. It was never about how much you complained and commiserated. We both know you did more than enough of that when we were younger. This might have been the most important discovery you made.
You always showed excitement in new endeavors and opportunities, but rarely did it transfer into determination and follow-through…until it did. I’m not certain if it was the fitness, the writing, or Ivy, but it translated into success in business, investments, and ultimately our happiness.
I love you, man, for learning to love yourself. It was because of you that I love me, and I could become who I did. At the time this letter reaches you, you’ll just be beginning to understand the importance of all this.
Despite having minimal time and how thin you have yourself spread then, today I am blessed to be able to take the time to enjoy and invest in myself. You began this process with your constant thirst for knowledge and skills. I can directly correlate all of the many things I can, and do do today, to the reading, listening, engaging, and trying, you did then.
You made changes in your thoughts, beliefs, and habits with such incredible efficacy. I am truly excited for you to be able to enjoy the many benefits of your hard work in the days and years to come. I promise, you will not be disappointed.
Today I am a contributing and present father and husband. You were the one who recognized the importance of this. You learned that being there for your loved ones was an action and not an idea.
Additionally, my community holds me in the highest regard. I am recognized as a philanthropist, benefactor, and mentor. That all started with you deciding you’d stop talking about how you wanted to volunteer, and started doing it.
Long ago you made a choice to sever the control that money held over you. This was so incredibly instrumental in the growth we’ve achieved. You recognized that money was both a tool, and a leash. You slowed down, and recognized monetary earnings was not the only measure of happiness and success.
Many acquaintances and loved ones walked a similar calamitous path. You made attempts to pull them off it. In this, you saw success with some, and failure with others. Regardless of the outcome, you attempted to help, whenever you felt it possible.
Now for what’s next. How about a bit of advice?
The advice I would like impart on you, back then, is simple. Don’t wait so long.
Don’t wait as long as you did to start investing. Don’t wait so long to estate plan for you and Kodid. I won’t go into details on this. I know you’ll figure it out. I’m just advising you start earlier.
Don’t wait to save for Ivy’s higher education either. And even if you don’t want to imagine it then, don’t wait to start saving for her wedding. It was such a beautiful affair. You can make it even better and less stressful for her, your wife, and yourself.
In general, don’t ever wait so long to do what you know you must; and when you know you need it, to do what you really want to.
Avoid the pitfalls and traps more, when you see them coming. Don’t make any unnecessary mistakes. I’m talking about procrastination, blame, complaining, negativity, and arguments. We wasted way far too much time doing those with way too many people. Some of the damage was irreparable, some took time and effort to reconcile that would have been better used elsewhere.
Eventually you’ll truly understand what it means to be fully cooperative, considerate, and empathetic. Trust me. I know.
Who knows how much further you can take us, if you had learn all that much sooner? Even though I’m risking the very fabric of the space-time continuum by telling you all this, I genuinely hope you do.
That’s it for now. Maybe I’ll send you another letter in a few years.
Now get back to work.
Thanks again for becoming the man I was blessed to become.
I’ll do you proud on this side, and I’ll be being you when you get here.
Your future self
Believe it or not, writing this was quite difficult. Initially the exercise seemed too prideful.
But how could it be prideful? The things I shared in the letter were plans and aspirations for my future. It was all about the person I want to be, and the life I want to lead.
In the end I realized the exercise was more aspirational than it was me blowing smoke up my own tail-pipe. I was very satisfied with the results.
I expect some will read this and think that the letter is too braggadocios. They may say ‘This guy sure is full of himself.’
The good news is that what those people say doesn’t matter. Inside my heart and mind I know everything the letter communicates is possible and likely. I just have to continue to work hard, do the right thing, and constantly look for ways to improve myself.
Anyone who understands the value of visualization and creating a plan for oneself may benefit from trying this exercise as well. Who knows what value they may take away from it?