For almost 15 years, a group of my mates have gotten together for what we affectionately call the "annual boys' lunch". Every year has been pretty much the same, we get to hear what each of us has been up to over the past 12 months, we eat lots of bad food and inevitably it ends up in an afternoon of laughter and good-natured heckling each other.
But this year it was kind of different. When I walked up to the table, I looked around and straight away thought to myself, 'when had everyone gotten so old'? I suppose I hadn't noticed the gradual changes over the years and naively I somehow thought I was the exception.
I headed to get a drink and out of the corner of my eye I noticed this older bloke, kind of weirdly staring straight at me. A microsecond later I realised it was just my refection in the mirror behind the bar. I instantly got a flashback of a conversation with my mum where she said, "Ben, I don't feel any older, but I look in the mirror and I see this old woman staring right back at me".
Back at the table everyone was discussing what was going on with them. Kids finishing school, careers soaring to new heights, business started and sold and who had a good year and who didn't.
A significant part of how well we are doing right now both personally and financially is a result of the decisions our past selves have made. Each of us has made a combination of both good and not so good choices over the last 15 years, consequently shaping our present circumstances for better or for worse.
We seldom think about our past self and the impact of their decisions on our lives, let alone our future self because it is difficult to get a concept of what we will be like in 15-20 years.
Past Ben didn't make all perfect choices and there were a lot of lessons learned but on balance, he made enough good choices to get me where I am today, and I am happy where I am right now.
But what about 'Future Ben'? What will he be like in another 15 years? I hope he's a good guy, that he is a fit and healthy 64-year-old, he is still financially secure, and I sincerely hope he is a terrific dad. Ultimately though, I hope he is still here!
Imagine if you came home one day and future you were sitting there staring right back at you? What would they say to you? Would they shake your hand and thank you for looking after your health, would they thank you for planning a financially secure future or would they scold you for a long list of poorly made decisions?
Maybe you haven't thought too much about how the personal and financial choices you are making today will affect the future you in 10, 15 or 20 years. Maybe 2022 will be the year you start thinking about your future self and that will lead you to investing heavily in their wellbeing. Because it won't be too long before you'll get to meet them and ultimately enjoy the benefits or suffer the consequences of your actions today.
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