An Open Letter to My Future Self
To be opened prior to September, 2020 — my thirtieth birthday
Note: What you’re about to read is a post I wrote to myself exactly two years ago today. A few weeks ago I found it buried in my Medium drafts. I don’t remember why I didn’t publish it at the time but I’ve chosen to publish it today. Enjoy!
How’s everything going? It’s me — well, you — Sean, from 2013. In less than a month, I’ll be twenty-three, which means in just over seven years, it’ll be the year 2020, and I’ll be thirty. Right now I’m days away from starting my first full-time job and since I don’t plan on stopping for a while, I’d like to take this opportunity to remind you who you used to be, and make sure you haven’t lost sight of what really matters.
I’m here to ask you to take a good, hard look at how you’re spending your time and challenge you to do something better. I want you to ask yourself, what am I working towards?
Now before you get all defensive, you should know that I’m not here pass judgment or make you feel bad about your life choices. If you can answer that question and you’re satisfied with the answer, fantastic — my work here is done. But if you feel frustration or anxiety because you haven’t accomplished as much as you wished you had, maybe feeling a little lost and want to do something about it, I’m here to help.
“Don’t you ever get the feeling that all your life is going by and you’re not taking advantage of it? Do you realize you’ve lived nearly half the time you have to live already?”
—Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises
First, I want you to consider taking a break from work. And when I say “take a break,” I mean quit. Whatever it costs, block off a few months and catch up on all things you’ve always wanted to do. Why? Because if you don’t have the stomach to do it now, you probably never will.
‘Someday’ is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you. If it’s important to you and you want to do it ‘eventually,’ just do it and correct course along the way.” — Tim Ferriss
Things to accomplish before 30:
- Return to India and re-visit where your parents grew up
- Road trip the American Mid-West
- Learn how to salsa
- Take Muay Thai classes in Thailand
- Be a mentor to someone
- Climb a mountain
- Learn how to ride a motorcycle
- Run a marathon
- Give a TED talk
While you’re at it, make a dent in your reading list — which I’ll bet has soared into the thousands. If you have time, re-read your old favorites. I’m talking Siddhartha and On the Road and the Great Gatsby. Reconnect with your old friends, wherever they are in the world. Do things that force you outside your comfort zone and make new friends with people you would’ve never had the chance to cross paths with otherwise. Aim to wake up each morning and listen your inner voice without judgment.
“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.” — Rumi
Whatever you do, make sure it contributes to your broader sense of self, brings you perspective, and restores your ambition to live an authentic life. Scared? You should be, because that means you’re not dead inside yet. But don’t let it stop you. When you think about all the flak and eye rolls you’ll get from colleagues and acquaintances when you tell them what you plan to do, just remember that when you die—which is hopefully many, many years from now—there’s only one person that has to lay in that casket, and that’s you. And unless somebody else wants to climb in and lay on top of you for the rest of eternity, you live your life the way you want to.
“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”
— Steve Jobs
Whatever happens — or has happened — know that you’ve been extremely fortunate to be where you are today and the only way to honor that is to spend your time doing the things you care about. Not everyone is so lucky.
The clock is ticking, and you won’t be a young man forever.
Take care and have fun.
August 23, 2013
PS: How are the hover boards? :)