What Will You Care Most About In 20 Years?
When I was a kid, every few months my parents would load my sister and I up into the car for a three-hour drive to visit my grandparents. These were short trips, usually only a few days, but spending time with them gave me a glimpse into history.
My grandfather was an infantryman for the U.S. Army in World War II, and I always loved hearing his stories of fighting the Germans through Europe. Two of my favourite tales were about the Battle of Crucifix Hill where his regiment was cut off from supply lines for three days and survived by eating snow, and the Battle of the Bulge, where he was wounded by a mortar round that landed in his foxhole. I felt as though I could have listened to those stories for hours.
Often, as he reminisced about the old days while looking back on his life, he would be reminded about how fast the years go by. My grandfather would then say something like, “Son, it seems like just yesterday when I was your age.” I must have heard him say that dozens of times.
Time Has a Way of Getting Away from Us
My grandfather’s musings reveal something we all face. The older we get, the faster time seems to move.
Have you noticed that?
The closer we get to the end, the more clearly we begin to see there is a day rapidly approaching when we’re going to die. It starts to feel like it’s not that far away.
On the other hand, when we’re young, we tend to have a different perspective.
When I was 21 years old, I decided I wanted to live until my 100th birthday. I pulled out the calendar on my little digital organizer – this was before phones had calendars – and went to my birthdate in October 2074 – the day I decided I would die. Staring at that pixelated black and white screen, I had an epiphany.
It was the first time in my life it truly dawned on me I was going to die – my life was finite. My perspective, however, was very different than my grandfather’s. Rather than feeling like I had no time to waste, I thought, “Wow, I have so much more life to live!”
When you’re 21 years old and looking forward to the rest of your life, another 79 years seems like an eternity. But when you grow old, you become wiser, and begin to understand, like my grandfather, how transient life is.
Speaking of my grandfather, the very last time I saw him, about 10 years ago, we sat together again, and he told me stories of yesteryear, many of which I had heard before. This time, as we talked, he unknowingly let down his guard in a moment of accidental vulnerability.
As he was commenting on how quickly his life had passed, I noticed his facial expression begin to change. A look of regret, almost like anger, came across his face. It seemed as if he was recalling dreams he once had, but now there was no more time to make them a reality.
That moment deeply impacted me. I thought, “I don’t ever want to feel what he’s feeling right now.”
Dreams are massively important; they are the starting point of any great achievement. But ultimately, we must turn those dreams into immediate and measurable achievements, leading to progress toward our goals.
Your Financial Dream
Money is not the most important thing in life, and I don’t think my grandfather’s regrets had a lot to do with money. But if we’re going to be honest, money ranks pretty high on the list of most people’s priorities.
It’s not just money we’re after. Ideally, we want a portfolio of assets that produces an income. That is, at least in part, what determines the quality of our lives in the future – and how we end up spending our time in our later years.
All of us are racing toward the day, not just that we’re going to die, but when we must either live off the income of our investments or rely upon someone else to provide for our basic needs.
Most of us will outlive our physical ability to trade our time for money. Even for those of us who remain full of energy well into our 90’s, we’ll no doubt outlive our desire to trade what little time we have left for money.
If you’re young, perhaps in your 20’s or 30’s, that inevitable need for passive income probably doesn’t seem all that urgent. You might be thinking, “It’s early days; I have plenty of time left.” On the other hand, if you’re approaching 50 or 60, you’ll likely have a different perspective. You may be asking yourself, “Where did the time go? Why didn’t I start sooner?!”
There are many reasons a person ends their life with regrets, but one of the biggest ones has to be a failure to live and make decisions today for what’s going to matter most in the future.
What Will You Care Most About in 20 Years?
Here are three things I can imagine will be very important to me when I’m in my early 60’s:
- Family: Do my wife and kids still love spending time with me?
- Health: Is my body strong and healthy enough to take my grandkids hiking?
- Time Freedom: Can I choose to do what I want, or am I a slave to my job?
Now is the time to refocus on what’s most important to you, so you can take some practical steps in 2017 toward what you ultimately desire.
Will you take a few moments now to think about your future?
Write down three things that you are going to care most about in 20 years.
This post was adapted from insights I shared in a recent live online property investor training webinar offered to the PropertyInvesting.com community.