The best motivation comes from one person: yourself
Last year during my mini-retirement, I picked up a copy of The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.
The Artist’s Way is a 12 week program mainly intended for artists to re-harness their creativity. Even though I am not an “artist” in the traditional sense, the actual program and exercises outlined in the book is applicable to anyone wanting to discover more about themselves and/or is interested in switching careers.
This article isn’t about The Artist’s Way, though I highly recommend it. One of the tasks in the book was to write a letter from your 80 year old self.
I wrote my letter, pondered it, and moved on.
But then last week while writing about my Decade Bucket List, I uncovered my letter again. And I was pumped.
Who better to get motivation from than your 80 year old self? I was ready to run through walls to be the best person that I can be.
We all struggle with the day-to-day, so reading a letter from your 80 year old self on a bad day, or even a good day is a great reminder that life is a marathon and not a sprint.
So today, I encourage you all to write your own letter from your 80 year old self. It’ll help you to put today in perspective, and remind you that we are playing the long-game.
Without further adieu, here is mine…
A letter from my 80 year old self
Today, I am turning 80.
I’ve now seen another 40+ years of life on this planet.
I am proud of you for taking the risk to leave your corporate CEO job and take your mini-retirement. Continue to enjoy it.
Don’t be afraid to take more risks.
Do things NOW that you won’t be able to do when you are my age. Take this RV trip around the country with the kids that you have been mulling over. Do it now, before you have constraints on yourself with the kid’s school, schedules, etc.
Make your marriage the best it can be. Surprise wifey with a weekend trip or something spontaneous every now and again. Be supportive in the way that she needs.
Put the time in to be the best father that you can. Engage with your kids. Be there for your kids. Build lasting memories and important relationships now.
Don’t take things too seriously. Life goes by quick. Remember the bigger picture. Our time on earth is short. Be present.
Live life to the fullest. Don’t have regrets. Don’t let the fear of failure stop you from doing anything that you want to do. Keep adding to your failure resume.
Take good care of your body. Stay healthy. Workout. Walk. Play basketball. Play golf. Be active.
I want you to be able to look back, like I am, and know that you have done everything that you can to be the best person that you can be.
But also, don’t get caught in the weeds. Enjoy life. Cross off the things on your Bucket List, then create a new list.
Never stop learning. Always stay mentally sharp one way or the other.
Don’t be afraid to simplify your life. Get rid of the unessential. Constantly work on peeling back the junk.
Be a good person. Lead when you are called upon, and step back when you don’t have to.
Money doesn’t matter, except for the bare necessities. Even if by some unfortunate event you were to lose all of your money, don’t sweat it. You’ll find a way to be happy with nothing. You’ll make the most of it. You don’t need money, or accolades, or anything else if you have the hearts and minds of your family.
Give back to the world more than you take. Give often big and little. Make someone’s day with a $20 tip. Help us old folks at Costco. Donate to nonprofits that you believe in. Bottom line, leave the world a better place than you found it.
Love with all of your heart. Don’t half ass anything. Full ass everything.
Cheers and remember,
Remember, we are playing the long-game
I hope you enjoyed the letter.
I’d love for you to now go and write your own letter from yourself. Really go for it.
Give yourself all the advice that you need right now, and more.
Challenge yourself to become a better person.
Make sure you are on the road that puts you in the position you want to be when you are 80.
Listening to your 80 year old self
My letter also begs some action. If my 80 year old self wants me to be healthy and sharp, there are things I need to start today.
It’s not enough to say “stay healthy,” I actually have to plan for it now.
Same goes with going on an RV trip, keeping my marriage strong, and building great relationships with my kids.
I have to take action.
I can’t sit back and wait for life to happen.
What do I really want to be like when I am 80?
Lastly, I wanted to consider a bit more, what I really want to be like when I am 80? Here is what I have come up with so far:
- I want to be a healthy, active 80 year old.
- My wife and I will be happily married and traveling the world together.
- We’ll still be pursuing our interests and spending plenty of time with our kids and hopefully our grandkids.
- We’ll live part time at the ocean, and part time in the mountains.
- I’ll keep busy with my 4-5 hobbies: golfing, reading, boating, astronomy and whatever else I am into at the time.
- I want my mind to be sharp. I want to be continuously learning new things.
- I’ll want to be doing something productive or meaningful such as working for a nonprofit, donating time, etc.
Now that I have a solid idea of what I’d like my life to be like when I am 80, I will start to ponder what else I need to be doing to be this person.
And if I ever start to drift off course, I now have this published letter and this list to live up to.
I hope that you too choose to go out there and write a letter from your 80 year old self!
Remember, we are playing the long-game. Your job is to craft the life that you want. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.
Hahaha… this is an interesting concept. It puts things in perspective though. Sincerely, it would be nice for one to be able to think back and feel satisfied about the life one has lived at such an age.
Particularly, a satisfaction derived from the non-negligence of the important things in life. No one wants to neglect them. In fact, I will dare to say some adults are scared about having second thoughts about the lives they have lived, come the age of 80.
I am not spared from this fear too, good writer.
Not that one wouldn’t have regrets during ones lifetime, but it would be nice not to have any at that age. Given fleeting time, one can only have room to appreciate the little time with ones beloved.
But hey, such a time is still faraway. I’d say carpe diem as you suggested. Maybe, you will get to 80. Maybe not. Your advice to yourself, will help you truly live, feel and experience what it means to be whole ALL THE WAY.
I see the practicality of this interesting concept. Hence, the reason why I pondered on it before replying. Also, I rewritten a letter I wrote on my journal in 2017, to my 50 year old me. Now, the new one is directed to my 80 year old me.
Just to let you know, I trust the process of writing for posterity. It adds to the vigor of living a wonderful life. With that said, this is a great personal article!
Thanks, I appreciate it!
Absolutely love this!
Never heard of this, but definitely will be writing one after reading your post. Being disciplined and resilient is tough at times, as life has a way of throwing things unexpectedly at you. But sticking to a plan while not taking things too seriously is a way to reward your present and future self. I recently quit my job where I was making quite good money, as the corporate goals were not aligned with my happiness. I had no job lined up and just took the plunge. The first thing I read was Be Here Now by Ram Dass, something I had been putting off for years. It was a great refresher on focusing on the now and those around you, as if all you do is climb the corporate ladder, you will wake up someday old and unable to do what you had personally wanted. Thanks for the idea, AR!
Sure thing! Let me know how yours comes out.
I’ve not yet read Be Here Now, but I’ll add it to my list. I think for me my sort of “wake up” was a combination and Awareness by Anthony De Mello and A Guide to The Good Life (The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy) by William B. Irvine. Both sort of affirmed to me that chasing status and title were not the direction I wanted to go. Congrats to you for taking the leap! Choosing happiness is more important than anything else.
Great article! I’m not 80 yet but even today I look back at my 20 year old self and say I wish I could have given him advice.
Haha yeah. Though I’m not sure that anyone can truly give your 20 year old self advice. Some things in life are best learned the hard way.
‘don’t get caught in the weeds’
So easy to do when we’re living day to day. How many of the things we’re worried about today will actually matter to our 80 year old selves.
Great post as always
Yeah for me that is a challenge at times. I get so headlong/obsessed into whatever I am doing at the time, that I have to really force myself to see the bigger picture.
Thankfully for me, this blog has become a good source of reflection and bigger picture focus. A great side benefit for me to blogging!
You are pretty smart for kid. I can almost see 80 from my age and I’m not sure I could give advice that prescient. I can only hope I learn something in the next 15 years.
Steve – what advice would you give to someone my age (besides all the good stuff you post on your site)?
Great, inspiring piece. It is one thing to reach 80, but a whole different thing to have actually LIVED all those years. Thanks!
For sure. I know I want to have no regrets. Plus by the time I get there, maybe 80 will be the new 60? I am counting down the clock until someone figures out how to truly fight aging. Then we can all live to 150 and/or merge with machines 🙂
I accidentally came upon your blog (no pun intended) and enjoy reading your content. It’s easy to read and great reminders on the life side, not just the financial side. Keeping the mind sharp is definitely key, hopefully you can read this post in the future when you are 80 and check off on all those items plus more! I’m also retired early this year (earlier than expected due to pandemic/acquisition of company) but it worked out and seeing your blog is motivating me a bit to maybe start a blog just to document my journey. If anything, for memories to look back on. Thank you for sharing!
Thanks Elena! Appreciate the kind words.
And I would say if you are considering starting a blog at all, just go for it. The cost is minimal and the blogging community is amazingly supportive!