Taking the long view

Dustin Wax posted this article on Lifehack.org, leading off with the perennial “where do you want to be in 5 years?” and moving into a discussion of personal development. 

There are many potential responses:  Why, as a creative, would I care? Why should I think about where I’ll be in five years, and how I’ll get there?  Because if I don’t, it’s a pretty safe bet I won’t get there.

Taking Dustin’s bait, I started drawing out a timeline… of the next twenty years.

With young kids, it pays to take the long view.  I began by mapping out milestone birthdays for myself and my kids. Then I mapped out when they would be getting braces and drivers licenses, then graduating from high school and college.

I’ll be 50 when my youngest graduates from college. He’ll start college during his sister’s senior year, so things might get interesting if their 529 accounts don’t perform well.

I dug out a plan from my someday maybe file that would let me pay off my mortgage 10 years early by paying $200 extra to principal each month. Realizing that my payoff date would still arrive after my daughter graduated, I upped my forecast payment to $250 per month, and my projected payoff date hit just as my son started college. Perfect.  Plus, if their 529 accounts cover their college expenses, we’ll be in a strong financial position, with low expenses at the height of our earning potential.

Now I just have to convince my wife that it’s the best use of that $250 each month.

Wondering when I might retire comes second right now.  Sure, I want to have the best retirement I can, and make good decisions along the way.  Meanwhile my plan is to have a full life, and to look for opportunities to take on fun and interesting projects.  Taking a realistic look at my life and knowing where I can fit in creative work will be more satisfying than ignoring the future and getting frustrated at a lack of opportunity.

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