Dear Present Self,
This is from your Future Self – you in 20 years. I am hoping to write to you today, well your today, to persuade you to consider making some changes. You see, 20 years from now, I will be the result of all your decisions. It’s not fair. You have all the power as I am still 20 years away! All those decisions that you are making right now, you get the satisfaction: Fancy meals, lots of desserts, burning the midnight oil of having too much fun, lots of ‘me’ time and avoiding exercise. And yeah, you are way to busy to brush your teeth at night. Well, it is those sorts of things that lead me to write this letter to you.
I beg you to consider the you in 20 years. I know you brush your teeth every day – who wouldn’t start the day like this. But seriously, in 20 years you will want those teeth. Trust me, having issues with your teeth is no fun. Really, it would have only taken 1-2 minutes a day. And flossing – you know looking back, that was really important. So, please add a few minutes to take care of those precious teeth before you go to bed.
Your eyes! How valuable they are – you do want to see your grand kids, right! Please go to the eye doctor at least once a year. Don’t let anything sneak up on you. Most insurance companies cover this and even if they don’t, consider the cost of vision; it is priceless, don’t you think?
You know, 20 years from today they found out amazing things about the brain. But really in your day, you know this stuff. You use it or lose it. There is so much to know, so much to learn. Do not let your world shrink to only your immediate touch points. 20 years from now, they are going to need you. Be skilled in your principles. Know how government works. Never forget that math. Don’t stop reading those books – remember to celebrate reading with good fiction books and not only live on a diet of self helps and who did what books. Become a point person for knowledge of relationships and people – be a model.
If you don’t have your health, you will always suffer. It sounds easy enough, but all those food choices! It wasn’t fair. I get that you enjoyed all those high fat meals laden with salt and calories. And having dessert whenever you wanted. And even tuning out life, watching TV and downing a bag of chips or box of cookies or 1/2 pound of cheese – yeah, I get it, it was fun. But it wasn’t without cost! 20 years from now, those extra pounds are taxing your spine, zapping you of your energy and causing you to miss out on things you really want to do; sports, hikes, walks, even the simple things, you will avoid and you don’t want this for yourself. And here is the bad news, those extra pounds, your food choices, your lack of consistent exercise is going a long way to attack your heart, liver, immune system. You are opening yourself up for diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and many more – some you even thought were not even caused by your choices!
Think about it! You don’t want to live like this. You want to be able to run with your grand kids, walk with your children, take those hikes with your wife. You want to play tennis and golf and kick the ball around and show your grand kids how to play. You want to be able to park where ever you want and walk places. You don’t want to be dependent on others or devices to get you from here to there. That is a slippery slope.
While I have your attention – do not leave me with little money! You blew through an enormous amount of money to satisfy what you thought were needs. You bought things ahead of time, borrowing the money and I see you are struggling to get by. You see, for years you lived up and now that debt has grown and you are a slave to it. It is forcing you to live down. I don’t feel bad for you now. I feel bad for you in 20 years – you don’t have the money you want to travel and bless your kids and grand kids. You have food money and can cover the costs of your housing, but that is all. And you will be too old to make any substantial money. Social Security, well, don’t depend on that to be there for you.
You can recover. Start by refusing to dig your hole any deeper. No more borrowing. Next, pay off that debt (watch those Dave Ramsey videos) AND at the same time, pay yourself first – set aside 10% in your 401k. After that debt is gone, open an IRA for 10%. This should do it!
Your spouse is your weapon to do life with. You will be with them as long as you both breath. Commit to that. In 20 years, those petty little selfish things…well, no one cares about them – not even you. What you do care about is that you both are in harmony, that life is full of joy, that you are both focused on the important things. Honor your spouse. Refuse to let you get in the way. Be openly honest about everything, commit to no secrets. Set aside time for communication – at least 1 hour a day and ensure that you communicate at levels 4 and 5 (see this post). When you have conflict, see it for what it is – beneficial if you do it correctly as it will reveal needs and feelings (see this other post and even this one). Make sure you romance them and make sure that you show that PDA (just no making out when people are watching). Soon, that daily life of raising children will pass and you will be left with just the two of you. Reconnect now! Find shared interests and get busy pursuing them together.
Who is God? Who are you? What did Jesus do for you? What is your response? How do you obey? In 20 years, you will want to have these things well under way. What is your purpose? Don’t get caught by Father Time only to be that person who suddenly looks back with regrets and confusion. Be the person who is looking forward, who is leaning forward – all with joy!
The good news is that there is a plan and the plan is pretty easy. You have only 1 day to make these changes. You have 1 day to contend with. Wrestle the day and force it into submission and make it yours. At the end, you can sleep. When you wake, you have that one day, only one day. You see, we are given a gift of one day. We never know when they stop coming. But one day at a time we struggle. You can do this! If you conquer the day, you have won! If the day beats you and if you learn from it and make the necessary changes, then you still won. You only lose when you give up and let days at a time get the best of you.
So, wake up and take control. Start the day working top down. What are your priorities? Spend time with God to get focused in the right direction. Give those 8 hours to your company because that is the deal. But do so as you are working for God. Win that battle of the mind – as this controls your thoughts and this is important because what you are thinking will come out of you in your words. Your words are followed by your actions. And when you continue in these actions they become second nature – they become your habits. And all your habits will etch out your character. So, take control of that mind (see the renewing your mind post).
This is a great video! Watch this Ted Talk about the battle between your present self and your future self:
I leave you with these words from Mathew 19:26 – But Jesus looked at them and said, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Remember, fall down 7 times, get up 8!
With All My Love,
Your Future Self