The twenty year life cycle
If you look at your life, you’ll probably notice that it changes dramatically roughly every 2o years. That’s also about the time that fashion trends recycle; so you get to see people who remind you of your younger self, making the same cotton blend mistakes right in front of you.
Older people often say as they reflect back on life, “Man if I could go back in time to when I was in high school!” or “If only I knew back in college what I know now!” The sad thing is that often, they’re not following the advice they wish they’d known earlier because they think it’s too late. This is a mistake.
Two reasons to listen to your own advice:
- You are preparing yourself for the next dramatic life change. If you’re twenty, you’re preparing yourself to be a 40-year-old homeowner, hopefully with a paid off house. (yes it’s possible, I know people who’ve done it.) If you’re in your 40s like me, you’re preparing yourself to be a 60-year-old, who doesn’t have to report to anyone and who is healthy enough to enjoy everyday life. If you’re 60, you’re training yourself to be a healthy 80-year-old, who doesn’t need help to go to the bathroom, who can still enjoy time with family and who can travel independently without scraping pennies out from under the couch.
- Mentoring.You need to show those younger than you, that good judgment is possible and doesn’t mean life is over. That instead it enriches life and makes every passing year, more fulfilling and outright fun. So your best years AREN’T in high school but are always in front of you.
It’s too late to NOT take your own advice
We all wish we’d started saving for retirement when we were younger. But statistics show that very few of us are saving for retirement now. So in twenty years we’ll still be saying, I wish I could go back and tell myself to start saving. But, experts like Dave Ramsey all point out that no matter when you start saving, it’s important that you do it. You may not end up with as much if you start later rather than sooner, but you’ll have more than you would have had you not started saving.
Let’s talk about health. I wish I could go back and encourage my younger self to train more than the muscles I could see in the mirror. To eat more vegetables, to stretch consistently. Then I’d be in better shape now. But, am I doing those things now, so I can make my life as a sixty year old easier? Ehn. Sometimes, sometimes not. So if I don’t get on the stick, I’ll be sixty years old, stiff as a board, wishing I’d started stretching and doing preventative exercise when I was 42.
My advice? Whatever you would tell your twenty years younger self, is good advice to follow now.