I can’t tell a ninja no, seriously ninja’s are scary and I just can’t say no to a guy with ninja stars and swords. The ninja who runs Punch Debt in the Face put out a challenge to write a letter to yourself ten years from now. The idea is to make you truly think about where you want to be ten years from now, put it in writing… to yourself, and then check back on it ten years from now. To read more about where the idea came from check out his post from yesterday entitled “a letter to myself” where he talks about a letter he was “forced” to write before graduating high school. I hated these kind of exercises and I can assure you my answer would have been a lot like his, although I didn’t get to go anywhere near San Diego.
The fact is we all want to lie about where we think we will be and what we really want. If we don’t lie we cover it up with half truths and humor like the Ninja did. It is hard to own up to where you think you should be in the future, take a few minutes and write a letter to yourself, ten years from now. It is like the question at a job interview, “where do you see yourself ten years from now” only you can answer it honestly.
Here is mine:
Ten years is a long time to look ahead, so much can happen either good or bad. With an emphasis on the good there are so many things you hoped to accomplish. I realize you most likely haven’t done them all but I hope that the things WE cared about got done. Money is not an obsession and hopefully is still not your ultimate focus.
I hope that you have continued to embrace the things in your life that truly matter like your wife and two children. In an effort to provide for those kids I hope you have amassed a decent amount of money to ASSIST in paying for their education. While I think it is important to have kids go to college, I think it is equally important for kids to understand that failure is expensive and affects their bottom line directly.
Ten years ago you dreamed of retiring “early” I want you to realize that dream is most likely not going to be your reality. What you should be doing now is something that excites you everyday. There is no reason you should dreading waking up, unless you are hungover, to go to work. Your job should be your passion and something you could see yourself continuing to do even when others have “retired.” As PF textbook as that sounds I hope it is where you find yourself.
I have no expectations of your current wealth or income levels. Honestly I don’t care. The most important things to you were the happiness of yourself and your family. They are what really matters in your life, not the number of greenbacks in your wallet or stocks in your portfolio. Never lose sight of things that really matter in your life. Your friends, your family, and yourself. Do not allow money, or the pursuit of money, to get in the way of those bonds.
You should now be completely debt free, including your mortgage. There should be no more bonds of debt servitude in your life. This accomplishment is the fourth greatest one in our life, behind children and marriage. Hopefully you took several of your friends out to dinner to celebrate.
Our retirement accounts should be sizeable for your age but not outlandishly large. Because you do what you love you have been able to enjoy life in the now without as much worry for the future. This is the benefit of knowing you will continue to work for years to come. No concerns of whether your retirement income can support you because you still have a working income. This is your life, enjoy it now AND in the future.
You will notice that my letter is not predominantly money related. I have a certain ideal of where I want to be and it doesn’t include me pinching pennies and saving them in my tower like Scrooge McDuck. I want to provide for my future and my children’s future but not at the sacrifice of OUR ability to live today and now. What would your letter look like? Is it all about the benjamins? If it is then I would ask that you take another look and decide where you really should be.