“The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.” — Henry David Thoreau
I came across this question through the Tim Ferriss podcast a while ago. I’ve written it down in my Notes app and let it be. Until today.
What Advice Would a 10-year Older Version of You Give to Your Current Self?
Asking yourself this question is a creative way of giving yourself honest feedback as to where you are in life and in multiple areas.
You can judge yourself without a filter but in a playful way.
I would be 39 (gulp). I imagine myself to have settled down, have one or two kids. I would own my own house at this point, hopefully, have a lovely relationship and a dog.
I hope to be healthy and fit. I see myself being a successful writer, having published multiple books and getting recognition across the world.
I have a great group of friends. I don’t have to stress about money.
Of course, this would be a dream scenario, but what if it does come true? I sure will try.
Every decision you make today can either bring you closer to that ideal future self or take you further apart from it.
Here’s where this exercise comes in.
Your first step is to identify who you want to be ten years from now. Write it down.
I used an exercise introduced by Debbie Millman, who was a guest on the Tim Ferriss Podcast. (Listen to the episode here).
Make a 10-year plan for a remarkable life. Imagine what your life will be like when you can do anything you want without any fear of failure. Don’t hold back, describe how you feel about everything, what you’re wearing, who you’re with, what your day looks like, your house, your relationships.
Now you know who you can be in ten years’ time, reflect on what you’re currently doing.
Break it down into the following areas:
Perhaps you can think of more areas. Go for it!
My 10-year older version (let’s call him Nick X in this article) of myself would tell me to ease down on the booze. Especially on the weekends after a busy week and me and my friends let ourselves go in the pub. The next morning, I always ask myself why I did it when I have a bad hangover.
It messes with my sleep, concentration, weight, and general level of fitness.
In terms of diet, we know we feel better when we eat fewer carbs. So why don’t you do it?!
Nick X would also urge me to develop a better routine, involving a short exercise in the morning and at least 3x a week a more active workout of 45–60 minutes.
I should probably say ‘no’ more often to things that can be destructive to my health.
Last year I’ve suffered from some pretty heavy panic attacks and anxiety. I’ve tried a lot to learn to cope with this. I would urge myself to continue to learn about my condition, keep meditating and do yoga. Above all, I need to decompress more, tune out and relax. I shouldn’t demand too much from myself.
What would your 10-year older version of you suggest?
I’ve got a great bond with my parents and brother. I’m not really close with my other family members except with a handful of them. I should perhaps call my grandmother more often, or visit her.
I’ve got great friends. The only thing I need to do is to explain my boundaries in a clear way sometimes. And I think I can do more for them in terms of helping them improve in certain aspects of life.
In terms of romantic relationships, I’m always at a loss. I’ve been single for three years, and haven’t found a woman whom I truly liked, let alone loved. Nick X would suggest not to think about it too much and be open. Just because I’ve had dozens of knockbacks, doesn’t mean I can’t find love.
What would your future self think about your family, friends and romantic relations?
Nick X is pretty excited about where current Nick is heading. Trying to become a writer is the right path if I want to become a successful author in ten years’ time.
Nick X also is responsible, therefore he urges current Nick to always keep a decent job until he can fully live off his writing — if he gets lucky enough to get there. Just focus on the things you like and you’re good at. I recently quit my job and I strive to build a new and better future for myself.
Try new things, learn, try to create a few sources of passive income, be open to new opportunities and enjoy yourself. There’s no reason to stay in a mediocre job, getting paid less than you deserve while helping someone else realize his dreams.
What’s your future self’s perspective on where your career is heading?
Nick X has learned a few skills, speaks three to four languages, traveled a lot and made the most of his young adulthood.
Nick X realizes current Nick struggles with the concept of time. Time is the only currency we all have at our disposal. Make sure you profit from it and don’t squander it on useless things. Would you like to keep spending twenty bucks on useless things, again and again?
A good portion of current Nick’s time is spent in worry, fear or distraction. Don’t let yourself be distracted too much by your phone, notifications, email and social media. You don’t need to keep up with all the new TV shows, movies, and books.
Another thing: don’t be too hard on yourself. You don’t have to become a super mensch. Relax, reload and do nothing every once in a while.
Create boundaries for yourself which are reasonable. Turn your worries into curiosity. Learn to become better across multiple aspects of your life.
Now you might have a list full of goals you want to reach this year. But what do you want to have achieved in ten years’ time? Be realistic and please don’t be too hard on yourself like I can be.
“In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” — Abraham Lincoln
Although I’m not religious, I do enjoy seeking the answers to life’s questions.
Nick X is aware of the fact that one can never know everything, but he will at least be a bit wiser than current Nick. He’s had more time to live, experience and learn.
Keep doing exactly that. Dive into the spiritual, philosophical and religious texts. Interact with other people, both liked minded and not. Travel, live and love.
Do you think about life enough? Is spirituality something you’re interested in? Are you religious and devoted to your religion as well? It can never hurt to question where you’re at right now.
Nick X is far less stressed about money than current Nick. He believes we must now make some bold choices and give ourselves space to create better sources of income. He advises to not depend on one job, to invest in himself and invest to create a healthy financial future.
Nick X would also suggest current Nick to be careful with his expenses, budget more often and be creative in earning more.
Would you future self advice you to change your relationship with money?
I hope you find this question as exciting as I have. It’s a great tool to reflect on where you’re at and if it’s in line with where you want to be.
“It took me so long to do so many important things. It’s just hard to accept that I spent so many years being less happy than I could’ve been.” — Pam Beesly, The Office US