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 🙂
Zach is the author behind Four Pillar Freedom, a blog that teaches you how to build wealth and gain freedom in life.
Zach's favorite free financial tool he's been using since 2015 to manage his net worth is Personal Capital. Each month he uses their free Investment Checkup tool and Retirement Planner to track his investments and ensure that he's on the fast track to financial freedom.
His favorite investment platform is M1 Finance, a site that allows him to build a custom portfolio of stocks for free, has no trading or maintenance fees, and even allows him to set up automated target-allocated investments.
His favorite way to save money each month on his recurring bills is by using Trim, a free financial app that negotiates lower cable, internet, and phone bills with any provider on your behalf.
His favorite micro-investing app is Acorns, a free financial app that takes just 5 minutes to set up and allows you to invest your spare change in a diversified portfolio.
His favorite place to find new personal finance articles to read is Collecting Wisdom, a site that collects the best personal finance articles floating around the web on a daily basis.
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