Wouldn’t it be great to be able to write a letter today that you could send back in time to yourself ten years ago? What would you write? If I gave you 300 words to send back in time, what nuggets of wisdom or warning would you send? Before you dismiss this idea as silly, I want you to consider the full implications of going through this exercise. While we know we can’t travel in time (yet?), embracing this concept and drafting your own letter can help you set better goals, build stronger relationships and maybe even change the course of who you become in ten years. So here’s my letter.
Dear Barry (in 2003)
Hello from the future! Things are pretty good here, despite some bumps in the road. I don’t get much space, so here goes. You’re engaged to a beautiful woman – marry her and never look back. She’ll provide you joy, companionship, love and a family. And boy can she cook! She’s got a lot of neat tricks up her sleeve, so let her dream and don’t shoot her big ideas down as often as you think you should.
Stay out of debt. Since 2011, you’ve been debt free and the sacrifice and challenge to get there is worth it. Don’t get a mortgage after your first house. You’ll have to work your way up but it’ll be a lot better if you do it without debt. Same goes for that fancy car you just had to buy – once it is paid off don’t drive anything else you can’t pay for.
Your job now is going to treat you well, and use it as an education. It will help you find your passion for helping others succeed. But don’t stick around too long. You’ll know when the time to leave is right. Speaking of that, listen to Stacy about kids. Don’t wait so long. They’re awesome (and exhausting). Plus, grandchildren are true joy for your mom and dad. Trust me. Grandchildren make them happier than anything I’ve ever seen.
Work as hard as possible to be a good husband, father and friend. When just about everything fails, you’ll need God and the people around you. Don’t settle for surface relationships.
2012 is going to be the hardest year you’ll face, but it’ll help you remember how good God is.
Wish I had more space, but that’s all I can share for now.
Barry (from 2013)
If you’d like to read a couple more examples, I wrote a similar article on the website associated with my book, From Debtor to Better. It shares a couple of possibilities for what letter “present you” might get from “future you.” At the end of that article I posted this reminder: Remember this: small choices today may mean a lot tomorrow. If you aren’t making progress toward the goals you want, pick a new direction. Set new goals, develop new habits and make things better.