3 min read
When people we know come to us for advice, the solutions to their problems always seem so obvious.
Duh, you should get out of that toxic relationship.
Yes, you should apply for that company even if you’re scared.
No, definitely don’t drop out of college with one semester left.
And yet, when faced with similar problems, we often struggle to find these obvious solutions ourselves.
There’s something about looking at a situation from a third-person point of view that offers a clearer perspective and makes the solutions to problems much more obvious.
Knowing this, here’s a strange thought experiment that I think anyone can use to help themselves find solutions to their current problems, struggles, and dilemmas in life: pretend you are 10 years older and write your current self a short letter of guidance.
It sounds strange, but this technique lets you use the wit and wisdom of your imaginary future self to give your current self some guidance.
I’ll share my own example. Here’s a letter of guidance from my 34-year-old self to my current 24-year-old self:
I’m 34 years old and I feel young as hell. You’re 24. You’re literally a child. You have so much time ahead of you. Keep working hard, but don’t stress about reaching all your goals in the next six months. You have time.
Keep writing every day, that blog starts to pay you back eventually. Also, keep documenting your personal thoughts on your financial journey. It will be fascinating to read those posts when you’re my age.
Call mom and dad more, they love hearing from you.
Read more. Follow your curiosity too, you don’t have to limit yourself to finance and self-help books. If you’re interested in biology, wildlife, and geography, pick up those books too. Same with documentaries. Don’t limit yourself to specific genres. Just follow your interests.
Attend more meetups. It’s good to put yourself out there and meet new people. You have more free time now than you’ll ever have in your entire life, so make the most of it.
Send more emails to random companies. Make more connections. Grow your network. You never know what relationship could change your life.
Stop skipping yoga classes.
Please, please, please always negotiate for a higher salary wherever you’re working. Read that one book on negotiation you’ve been putting off. It will pay for itself many times over.
Go to a Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting while Charlie and Warren are still at the head of the ship. They’re legends and people will talk about them for the next century. You’ll regret it if you don’t seize the chance to see them in person.
Don’t worry about who is getting married, starting families, or traveling the world. It’s not a race. You have so much time to do all those things.
Keep meditating. Keep lifting weights. Those are good habits.
Eat more broccoli.
Keep investing in index funds. You’ll experience your first serious market drop in your 20’s. Don’t stress about it. Just buy more. No surprise, the market is higher now than it was then.
Several new tech companies from Silicon Valley have entered the S&P 500 and are driving prices higher. Just keep your passive investing approach. Your best investments will be the ones you don’t touch for the next decade. Seriously, don’t touch them.
Stop checking crypto prices on a daily basis. Just let the money you already invested sit there for years. You’ll be better off for it.
Lastly, don’t take yourself so seriously. You’ll accomplish some impressive things in your 20’s. You’ll also fail a lot so brace yourself. Always remember that family is more important than money. Keep following your natural curiosities of writing and data visualization. You can’t possibly predict now where those two passions will take you. Enjoy your 20’s. You’ll never be younger.
This short letter helped me recognize a few things I knew to be true, but needed to be reminded of: I am incredibly young still. I should take myself a bit less serious. I should call my parents more. I should follow my natural curiosities more, even if they don’t have clear monetary benefits.
No matter how old you are, I encourage you to try this exercise. I know it seems ridiculous, but it’s pretty incredible how much you can help your current self just by pretending to be 10 years older and wiser.
Thanks for reading 🙂
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13 Replies to “A Letter From My 34-Year-Old Self”
“Eat more broccoli.” 🙂
My letter would probably tell me to slow down and enjoy life.
I think most people would also tell themselves to slow down and enjoy where they’re at in the present moment. It’s a great reminder 🙂
Great idea! I’m going to do this. It’s a way to be honest and transparent with yourself 🙂
Nice! Hopefully you find it as useful as I did 🙂
Good exercise for any age Zach. It is a great way structure yourself to succeed as long as you follow the advice of your older self. Cheers Steve
Thanks for the kind words, Steve, and I completely agree – this is a helpful exercise for all ages.
Cool idea! I like the notes to call your parents more and remembering that family is more important than money. Your 34-year old self sounds like he’s in a good place 🙂
Yes he does! Hopefully I’m as wise and level-headed as him once I reach 34 haha
Love how you flipped the script on the usual “letter to my younger self” post by writing as a future you to your current self.
Have you listened to yourself re: the crypto prices? Didn’t think so. 😉
Thanks PoF! I can definitely say I check crypto prices less than I used to…I’m making progress haha
“Please, please, please always negotiate for a higher salary wherever you’re working. Read that one book on negotiation you’ve been putting off. It will pay for itself many times over.”
I have been hearing this time and time again from both new grads and docs in a career transition. Better negotiation skills = Getting what you want out of life Faster, not only salary!
Keep up the amazing work and thanks for the advice that is ageless.
Thanks so much! Appreciate all the kind words 🙂