Dear Younger Me,
Great news! I am happy to announce that a long-held dream has finally come true. I've finally become a lady that lunches! I recall that as a bright-eyed, idealistic 25-year-old, I hoped there would be a day when I could finally retire and not have to face the agonising trek into the office. And that day has finally arrived – well sort of!
I was able to meet up with my friend because I finally took some time off – I’ve become a bit of a workaholic. So today, for the first time this year, I was able to catch up with my oldest friend who I haven't seen since the beginning of the year. Over some rather spicy chicken at Nandos (I misjudged what 'medium heat' meant), we reminisced about how many years we had each been working (we are both 50 and we started work at 18), the rather 'interesting' characters we had worked for, the challenging corporate cultures we had had to navigate to say nothing of the overwhelming workloads and underwhelming salaries. We pondered the question of whether after all our years of work, shouldn't we be further ahead wealthwise?
Now I accept that we have pensions to look forward to (I hope, if they still exist when we retire) but seriously the thought of having to keep working for almost another 20 years doesn't appeal to me at all. In truth, I'm really at the stage where I want to slow down, not run to catch the 08.10 to Liverpool Street. I know you probably are thinking that I sound like an old codger but all that energy and enthusiasm you have for working life right now, unfortunately, it's not going to last forever.
So, if I remember correctly, if you're 25 you are about to go off to university. I know you're a few years behind others but honestly don't worry about that, you are going to have a great time and the years you spent working before going to university are going to stand you in good stead. In fact, you will often reflect on it as one of the best experiences of your life. You're going to do very well at Uni, academically and some of the people you meet there are going to become life-long friends. A word of advice though, should you think of taking a short course in law in the first year - Don't! You will hate it, you won't learn that much and strictly between you and me - the tutor is a nightmare! But go to university by all means - throw yourself into it, enjoy the Wednesdays nights dancing the night away after a day in lectures and the library, the afternoons sitting on the lawns in the sun pretending to study when you're really just gossiping with friends and enjoy the learning experience. I would not dream of telling you not to go.
However, when you graduate, please listen carefully to this, do not do what I did and throw yourself back into work just because you want to pay off your study loans - they will get paid off eventually one way or another. When you graduate, stop, breathe, take a look around you and think. Because, the truth is that even though you do well at Uni, having a degree is not going to prove to be the golden key to life that you currently think it is. Sure, you are going to get slightly better jobs and slightly better salaries but that will be accompanied by long hours, huge workloads and some fun characters who like to think of themselves as 'perfectionists'. They're not, they are simply overbearing - leave those jobs, it is not going to get better.
So, here's my advice, think seriously about setting up your own business now. I know you don't feel like you have the skills or experience but with the way the digital economy is going to develop in the coming years, most of the skills you are going to need you can learn. The development of the internet is going to be a game-changer. The opportunities are going to be amazing. I know you think you won't mind the long hours now, hey, you're young, you probably won't even notice it, at first. The other thing that is going to change is that after 40, personal freedom is going to become really important to you. You aren't going to want to spend all your time in the office or travelling on business (yes, you're going to do that too). I know business travel sounds glamourous to you now but that is going to get very old, very quickly. It's exhausting and you will only really get to see the inside of various hotels/conference centres (except from the Hungary trip, that's going to be a blast! Take a camera).
Your own or should I say ‘our’ own business is the way forward. Taking charge of your financial future and developing something that is yours and that you can control is going to pay huge dividends for you. As long as you stay an employee your income will always be limited to whatever someone else is willing to pay you.
When it comes to business, I’d advise you to go digital. The development of the internet means you will be able to work from home or anywhere - I know that appeals to you. Just imagine you will be able to pack your laptop, and work from anywhere, coffee shop, park or beach. Or just from the comfort of your own home – a two-minute commute to your desk instead of the hour+ you're currently spending.
However, even if you don't take my advice, I've got you covered. I've decided to go for it and build my own online business - better late than never. It's going well, I'm learning new skills and meeting some great people who are supporting me every step of the way. We are going to be ok - more than ok. I expect to be able to 'retire' from my job in the traditional economy very soon.
If your still not sure where to start the following video explains how you can start to building a better future for yourself today.
Before you go, if you can, take 2 minutes to watch this YouTube video that I found inspirational - It's Never too Late.
If you've enjoyed this article, please take a second to share your advice to your younger self - what are your top 3 tips? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing your stories.