Previous birthdays never really meant much to me. At eighteen I could buy cigarettes and porn, but I didn't because I don't smoke and know what the internet is. At twenty one I could buy alcohol, but didn't because I don't drink. I could gamble, too, but had already been doing it for years online. At twenty five I could rent cars at a discounted rate. That was a little bit exciting, but not exactly a life changer.
So when thirty rolled around, I didn't expect much. And, of course, the actual day didn't really change anything, but the increasing comprehension that my twenties were over did change something. I got serious.
My first ten years were spent filling diapers, and then drawing with crayons. It's tough to expect much from a 0-9 year old, and I'm sure I just about met those expectations.
My next ten years were spent learning, mostly. I learned how to make money, how to write, how to do math, and how to speak some Chinese and Spanish. A lot of my good friends were met during these years, too. So the 10-19 age range was mostly experiencing the world and building up a collection of reference experiences to help me understand it. The foundations of who I "am" were built during these years. I became a nerd, I became interested in Asia, I neglected social skills to the point that I would later have to become a pickup artist, I gained a deep understanding of risk and reward, became an entrepreneur, and I started exploring things.
My twenties could best be described as me doing whatever the hell I wanted to do. I dropped out of school, traveled the world, made a bunch of money gambling, had a few girlfriends, moved into my RV, and learned a bunch of interesting stuff. During this decade I basically completed my entire bucket list, including a lot of things I never thought I would do. I lived in a mansion and penthouse, ran with the bulls, flew a plane, skydived a few times, dated girls I would have thought were way out of my league, bought three mercedes, a house, and my first Rolex, explored the catacombs beneath Paris, rode a camel in the Sahara, walked through the ghettos of Haiti, met and befriended a few celebrities and most of my heroes, and a whole lot of other stuff I can't even think of right now.
The truth is that I've done almost everything I want in life that doesn't involve having a family or having a lot of money. There are always more countries to explore, more girls to date, more adventures to be had, but the marginal utility of each one has diminished. I've done all that, I've done it well, and I've enjoyed every second of it. If I died tomorrow I'd die with a smile on my face.
I'm happy about all of these decades. I mean, I don't think I executed them perfectly or anything like that, but it would be hard to really pinpoint any major regrets and say that I should have done things differently. I wouldn't trade my friends or experiences for anything, and their existence is due to the precarious path I took through life so far.
Upon turning thirty, I asked myself what my thirties should be about. The easy choice would be to continue doing what I was doing in my twenties, just living an awesome life. Thirty is an arbitrary number, things were going well, so why not continue?
On the other hand, my forties are looming. If I don't have a family by forty, odds are that I'll never have one. It's not impossible or anything, just less likely. If I can't find someone compatible enough to start a family and also become wealthy enough to support a family by forty, when WILL it happen? Despite some slightly offbeat attitudes towards marriage and dating, having a family is really important to me. I'm so grateful for my family and I love children so much that I can't imagine not being a parent.
So, again, here are my thirties. When I was in my teens I knew with complete certainty that I'd be a millionare by the time I was twenty five. And, truthfully, I probably earned around a million dollars through gambling. But I spent some of it and most of it was confiscated. I also thought that I'd probably meet The One by the time I was that age, too.
Suffice to say that neither one of those things happened in my twenties. I had an attitude that as long as I kept doing whatever I wanted to do, things would fall into place. One of my side projects would be so amazing that people would line up to pay me the money I deserved, and I'd become a millionaire with very little effort. If I just kept doing whatever I wanted, I'd bump into some perfect girl who I could have babies with. The latter turned out to be a bit more realistic than the former, but still I found myself single at thirty, financially comfortable, but not wealthy enough to support anyone besides my self.
My thirties, then, have to be a bridge to my forties. I'm 31 now, so I have nine years to get everything together. I've never thought about these long time horizons before, but now they're the shortest spans I consider.
Nine years isn't that long. I remember nine years ago when I was twenty two and it seems like yesterday. Soon I'll be forty, looking back at when I wrote this post, thinking how IT seemed like yesterday. I have three goals for the next nine years. That doesn't seem like much, but they're all really big goals.
1. Find an amazing woman to raise a family with. I'm the kind of guy who would much rather be single than date someone mediocre, half as a matter of pride, and half as a practical strategy to avoid wasting time that could be spent productively. I have a somewhat bizarre lifestyle and set of ideals, which makes me incompatible with most of the world. I've also dated a handful of really great girls, and don't see much point in dating anyone who doesn't measure up favorably with them.
The truth is that I have no real idea how I'll find someone like this. Pickup is a step in the right direction, but it's a huge focus and time investment and results in a lot more chaff than wheat. I don't have any better ideas, and may resort to a full year of pickup or something like that, assuming that in such a long amount of time I'll meet someone amazing, but this doesn't seem all that efficient.
2. Get really wealthy. If I were to put a number on it, I'd say ten million in the bank. I'd like to have enough money to be able to be a stay-at-home dad and spend most of my time with my family, traveling around with them, and teaching my children. My friend Leo homeschools his six children, and talking to him about it has inspired me to do the same. My twenties were all about me, so my future will be about my family. It would be fun to have a private jet and a private chef and a custom tour bus and all that stuff, but really I'll be happy when I get to the point that I can fly coach anywhere in the world on a moments notice without regard for the cost of flying there and renting a spot in the middle of the city I'm visiting.
3. Contribute positively to the world. I think I've already started this through my blog. I don't reach a TON of people, but I do get a lot of feedback from people saying I've changed their lives. I'll die some day, but my hope is that some of the work I've done will flow forward in time through generations, and improve life for people. I'll do this through my family, too, but I feel like I've gotten so incredibly much out of the world that I owe it a debt. I don't intend to finish this in my thirties, but just build a solid foundation.
So, three big goals. I think that they'll work together pretty well, too. The more I contribute to the world, the more like-minded people will know about me. I sort of expect that whoever I end up raising a family with will find me through my blog, since it's such a self-selecting medium. I have a strong moral code, so any method by which I'll get wealthy will also impact the world positively. When I do find a woman who I want to raise a family with, I'm sure that she'll play a part in my financial success as well as my contribution to the world.
With nine years until I'm forty, I figure I'll spend the first three primarily focusing on becoming wealthy, the next three on finding someone to have a family with, and the last three shifting my attention towards contributing to the world. That's not a strict timetable, just an idea of how I see it playing out.
All this is why I'm serious now. I wake up early, I plan my day, and I execute. I write a blog post every single day, posting the best two per week, and work on SETT for the rest of the time. I spend some time with friends and family, but don't do much else. Right now I'm only working on getting wealthy and contributing because I won't be ready for a family until I'm wealthier and by contributing positively I expect to increase my chances of finding someone to have a family with.
A couple days ago, during a rest period of a workout, Leo asked me if I was different now than I was ten years ago. My gut reaction was to say that, no, I was pretty much exactly the same, but even a quick scan of changes in that time made me realize that I bear little resemblance to who I was. I asked him the same, and he's changed even more than I have in the past ten years.
The two big themes I noticed in the changes I went through were first that they would have been pretty much impossible to predict, and second that they were all good surprises. Of course, I'm a happy person and I'm certainly biased, so I would probably think the changes were positive no matter what.
Even knowing that we would have been incapable of predicting the changes that happened over the past ten years, we couldn't resist trying to make predictions for the next ten. That's how we spent the remainder of the rest periods of our workout. I decided I'd make my predictions public so that we can marvel at how prescient I was, or, more likely, laugh about how I was dead wrong.
At the end of each section I'm going to give some odds for each outcome. That way we can see how accurate my predictions and confidences were, and I can make longshot predictions without messing up the record.
Edit: I gave up on financial goals in late 2011 after some huge financial and artistic wins... money shouldn't be taken too seriously. For the record, they were all basically on track, some were being massively exceeded, others were a bit behind schedule, but were all happening.
I set my next 10 years of financial goals on June 28th. That was exactly a month ago.
1 year - Critical Thinking [my first book] out. Blog income trickling. Some info products. Some freelancing. Something else, some X-Factor thing bringing in cash. Net monthly income positive. Health insurance. $50,000 in the bank. Expenses = income per month minimum.
3 years - 3 to 5 books out, many products out, blog income robust, some working on big exciting deals. $10,000 per month total, $5000 passive at least. First property owned. $300,000 in the bank.
5 years - 7-10 books out, many many products out, many passive income internet properties, working on big exciting things, $50,000 per month total, $40,000 passive at least. $1,000,000 in the bank.