I am listening to the book Dollars and Sense by Dan Ariely and Jeff Kreisler. They have provided me with a hack that is changing the way that I plan for the future. In this book, Dan and Jeff explain how we deal irrationally with money and value decisions. At one point they mention that one of the reasons people don’t save more for retirement is because retirement is such a distant event that we cannot picture ourselves in this situation. Then the authors quote a study that showed that people are more likely to take action if they have a specific future date in mind, rather than just “20 years down the road.”
I have a lot of aspirations for the second half of my life. (Or hopefully more accurately, the next two-thirds of my life.) But it has always felt that I will get there some-day. Maybe I am not hitting the targets I want to today, but I’m sure it will improve. I have another 20, or 30 years to get what I need to get done. And I feel pretty ok with my progress.
But when I set the date: “I want to have this accomplished by August 31, 2034.” Everything changes. I now have a focus; I now have a deadline to work towards. And now I need to buckle down and make it happen. If I don’t hit my targets now, success isn’t going to happen by August 2034. If I’m not moving forward, I will never arrive.
When I am working for something in 20 years, this is a moving target. Twenty years is always the same amount away, whether it is today or tomorrow. When I have my date of August 2031, this focuses me because time is short. Every day is a day closer to that time.
I have to get back to work. 2034 is just around the corner.
(Note: 2034 is just 15 years away. I know that. I have things that I want to accomplish by then. Then we’ll see where I go next.)