Thinking long term

Starting a personal blog is something I've thought about for a while. And now that I have one, I've been struggling with what to write first.

I have ideas for future posts, all on niche topics - personal finance, software development, self growth - but I wanted to write something that would embody an introduction of everything I plan to write about and still provide useful insight.

I've landed on thinking long term.

It's about realizing that small (sometimes seemingly insignificant) efforts now can add up to huge sums and have great impact on your future; a spring that trickles into a vast lake.

Shifting my mindset towards the future has continued to produce results that make my life better.

Personal Finance and Investing

I've been interested in the FIRE mindset for some time now. For those who aren't familiar with the term, it stands for: Financial Independence/Retire Early.

I'll be writing more on this topic but the idea is to be wise with the money you earn now so that you can stress a little less about your financial situation in the future.

For example:

$1000 this year vs. $1350 in 20 years (at 1.5% interest)

or potentially

$1000 this year vs. $2650 in 20 years (at 5% interest)

and if the economy really works in our favor, maybe even

$1000 this year vs. $6700 in 20 years (at 10% interest)

It's impossible to say for sure where the economy will be in the future and some people will scoff at the first example - inflation and all that - or claim that an extra $350 isn't really worth waiting 20 years for. But I say it's tough to argue that having $1350 at your disposal in 20 years could be worse than having $0.

Writing

I've enjoyed writing for as long as I can remember. I wrote my first stories in 1st grade - straight rip offs of the Pajama Sam computer games - and in 5th grade my best friend and I wrote serial short stories and gave our best try at co-authoring an epic fantasy novel.

There have been periods of time where writing has felt like something of my past but my aim is to be more consistent with it.

I'd like to finish the novel I'm writing, share some poetry, and make this blog a consistent outlet for my thoughts. I expect life will get in the way at times but in the spirit of thinking long term, if I am able to keep coming back to this, I have little doubt that it will evolve into something I can be proud of.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a long term commitment no matter how you spin it. To briefly outline how the belt system works:

  • White Belt: 1 - 2 years
  • Blue Belt: minimum of 2 years
  • Purple Belt: minimum of 1.5 years
  • Brown Belt: minimum of 1 year
  • Black Belt: 40+ years
  • Red Belt

For brevity I've skipped some belts distinctions between black and red.

It is a minimum 5.5 year commitment to black belt (though typically much longer) and from there, a lifetime of training to get to red belt. What this says to me is that the belt color doesn't matter all that much. Instead, it's the commitment to staying humble and training for the rest of my life that's important and makes the sport worthwhile.

Software Development and Career

Everything I've done over the past decade, from making silly flash games in highschool to starting my career as a software developer to time spent working on side projects, has helped land me where I am today as a software engineer.

I can't say for sure what my end goal is but with less than five years of industry experience, my career is still in its infancy and there is an exciting road ahead.

My plan is simple: take each day to learn what I can from the extremely smart people I have the privilege to work with and better myself. In doing so, I can be sure that no matter where I land in the future - a different team, company, career path, or perhaps starting my own company - I'm prepared.


Keys to thinking long term

So, that's a bit about me and areas in my life where shifting my mindset toward the long term has proved beneficial. I don't view the following as tips but as things I try to be conscious of.

Stop comparing to others (and yourself)

"Comparison is the death of joy."
- Mark Twain

If you spend all of your energy wondering why you haven't made the same progress as those around you, you will have no energy left to improve yourself.

At best, we only see the external facing results of their hard work; not the long and grueling effort put into reaching that point. It's easy to wonder how they can make it look easy when you struggle to make significant progress.

At worst, we see their facade put forward with no substance to back it up.

Regardless, it is important to focus on yourself first.

If I'm being honest, I don't even recommend comparing you to yourself. Sure, taking a look back to ensure you are moving in the right direction is important, but these things take time and it can be discouraging when day by day progress is difficult to perceive.

Align your day to day with the future

As mentioned, it takes consistent and sometimes seemingly insignificant actions over time. The more of these you can fit into your daily life, the more likely you'll be to see long term success.

Cook breakfast and brew your coffee at home to save money.

Find an hour in the morning or evening to read, write, draw or study.

Spend 30 - 45 minutes a day on a run, at the gym or taking a walk.

Whatever it is you wish to pursue, find time and make it a priority of your daily life.

It doesn't matter if it's one thing or ten; or if you miss a day here and there. Make conscious effort to keep it routine. What's important is creating a habit that will keep you in the flow and progressing.

Embrace what you can't control

What happens in life isn't always in our control and it's important to realize this.

It's too easy to get stuck on the past when things don't go our way and often there is nothing more that we could have done.

Rejection - sickness - death - or just a simple bad day.

Understand that you don't have direct control over these things, take time to sort them out for yourself and move forward.

Take responsibility

The flip side to my last point is to realize that you and only you are responsible for what's in your control.

Scapegoats are no good here.

When you plan for the long term, take life in stride. There will be plenty out of your control but how you react and what you do to shift the balance is on you.

Enjoy the journey

I think reaching a long term goal, while exhilarating, is often not what we picture.

The gold plating fades and what we thought we wanted evolves or our priorities change.

It's important to realize that the path of achieving what we set forth to do will likely be more fulfilling than reaching the goal itself.

I see this in fitness journeys. You set a goal:

I want to lose 25 pounds.

When you've done it, maybe you're not quite as fit as you thought you'd be or perhaps you'd like to see yourself with a bit more muscle tone.

Whatever it is, there is a choice to make:

Either say screw it and let yourself revert back to familiar ways OR acknowledge the changes you've made in yourself and realize that it's a long term journey with no clear point of completion.

It's a bit scary and liberating at the same time.

Find a balance

Some may argue that life is too short to always think long term and there is some truth to this. By no means do I recommend forsaking all short term goals and leisures for some future dream life.

Finding a balance is key and this will be different for each person.

Regardless, it doesn't hurt to take a look at how we spend our time, money and energy and ensure that our future selves can be happy with the decisions we're making.


What's next?

Thank you for taking the time to read my first post.

I'm not all that sure what's to come for this blog but I am excited to see!

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