Advice for my younger self
I recently stumbled upon a website that was made up entirely of letters from people to their 25 year old selves. It was a mix of well written notes that were filled with dreams, fears, humor and advice that only the experience that comes with time could produce. After reading through a few of these, it made me think about what I would want to tell that young man who was newly married, just beginning a family and was a couple of years into the start of his career personally, professionally, and financially.
Save More – The young man of 25 years ago could definitely enjoy the benefits of starting earlier saving money for the future and from taking full advantage of 401K savings opportunities. Beyond financial savings though, I’d tell him to record conversations with his grandparents and parents about the great family stories that begin to fade over time. Those are precious memories that would be wonderful to reflect on today.
Worry Less -The 25 year old would benefit from the advice that many of the things that kept him up at night or made him spend time scrutinizing words or action really weren’t that important. What you wear, what you say, and what you own are much less important with the benefit of time. The ability to be true his values and beliefs and sticking to that path is of much greater value than what others might think or say.
Pursue Passion – My 25 year old self had already corrected one of his early mistakes without my input but the decision he made is even clearer now. My grandfather and father were both talented engineers. Engineering was a family career and I doggedly stuck to that my first 3 years at the University of Tennessee. However, it wasn’t my passion. I loved finance and wanted to help others make smart decisions with their money. A change of focus for my degree meant an extra year of school but also meant a lifetime of pursing my passion everyday.
Leave Legacy – There is a wonderful book titled, “Letters from Dad” by Greg Vaughn that describes the importance of a father leaving his written thoughts, hopes, and dreams for his children. I would tell my younger self that capturing those moments and the journey that he was on would be valuable to his children someday. This is a challenge that could be impactful now for both my kids and future grandchildren and is a great challenge to my 50 year old self too.
Would I want that twenty five year old to make major changes to what he did back then? No, I’ve learned that the process of life-the work, the hard times, and the stumbles–is my life. Life isn’t the end result; it’s everything between the beginning and the end.