20 Years Forward, 20 Years Back

Yesterday I woke up out of a dead sleep at 2am with a very specific thought on my mind.

In 20 years I will be 60 years old.

Really? Let me check that math…. Yep.

IN 20 YEARS I WILL BE 60 YEARS OLD.

I’ll be the first to say I’m not afraid of getting older. I have enough friends that won’t have the opportunity to even see 40, so I (usually) embrace these smile lines that I’ve earned, and the fact that some days I like to get in bed before the sun fully sets.

smile lines

I have squeezed countless awesome experiences out of my first 40 years of life, and have done a decent job of taking all the other shit that’s happened and turned that into grit. Grit that comes in handy whether I’m climbing a mountain, getting over an illness, or even just doing something I don’t want to do in that moment.

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And the thought comes up again. In 20 years I’ll be 60 years old. What does 20 years feel like? Let me measure backwards.

Let’s look back to 20 year old me. I was in college at UW Madison. I was working three jobs and spending most nights of the week either at the Kollege Klub, Brothers, or Bull Feathers. I loved running, loved drinking with my friends, was EXTREMELY financially irresponsible, didn’t have a clue who I really was, had massive creativity, thought 90% of my college classes were utterly pointless, and would rather work than do most anything else. My Doc Martens went with every outfit, and most lunches consisted of Doritos and Mountain Dew.

Parts of that time of my life feel very fresh, and I can almost smell my guy friend’s Drakkar from where I sit right now, and other parts of me feel like that era is more like a foreign land. I didn’t yet own a cell phone, gps wasn’t a thing, and I had only just sent my first email two years prior.

And now I wonder, what would my 20 year old self think of my 40 year old self? If her curious eyes and freckled face could sit across the table from me right now and examine who she had become, what would she think?

There are definitely many things that she’d be pretty stoked about.

The fact that I live in Colorado. My degree of financial responsibility. My accomplishments in running as well as the high quality friendships I’ve formed though the sport. My career trajectory, and for sure my income level. (When I was 20 I celebrated making $10,000 on my W2 – that was a goal for a few years at the time!) Coaching at Edgewood. The fact that I traveled alone in foreign countries twice. And most notably, truly taking the time to figure out who I am and what I want out of my life.

On the flipside, there are also some things she’d be disappointed in. Two main things.

First, I have not prioritized my creativity.

Growing up I had creavity oozing out of me. I’d often be writing, drawing, creating something out of shoe boxes or sticks, or imagining a fantastic world I wanted to live in. I had so much pride in an aquarium themed diorama that I made in fourth grade that I can still remember my intensity of molding the clay so it looked exactly like my dad’s Moorish Idol fish that he had in the salt water tank in the basement.

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Photo courtesy of Petcha.com

In high school and college, I’d spend hours upon hours shooting and editing video, whether it was for a local tv station, or for the UW Athletic Department. I had dreams of being a sideline camerawoman for the NFL and editing inspiring stories for tv about the players. I knew one day I’d tell these stories about the players and their lives in such a way that it would be considered art, and even the toughest man would tear up while watching the emotional parts.

Secondly, I’d be disappointed in my romantic history. At 20 I envisioned my life with a partner that I had shared passions with, that would want to travel with me, run with me, grow and build a life with me that we both actively wanted and cared about. My younger self would probably bluntly say ‘why have you kept choosing people you don’t have shit in common with?’ That’s a great question. And a very valid one.

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Photo courtesy of Psychology Today

Wouldn’t that be something? To spend time with your 20 year old self and remember what was important, and why you wanted those things?  

Now let’s look at 60 year old me. What do I want to think of my 60 year old self, and what I do with my life in the next 20 years?

I thought about this as I walked with my dog along Bear Creek yesterday. I could see myself still looking healthy, still laced with optimism, and with a warm smile on the other side of that table. I hope I will be is someone that still has a sense of adventure, and chooses courage over fear to keep exploring the world. I want to see that I still push myself physically. I may be pedaling slowly on a bicycle, or in a yoga retreat in Nepal, and that’s okay.

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This lady is a beast and I love her. 

I want to see that I have built enough wealth that I don’t need to rely on anyone else or the government to support me in my golden years.

I want to see that I’ve chosen a great romantic partner that shares my vision of the kind of life I want, and is active and healthy like me. A man that can think for himself and wants to live a good life that he shares with me. Age may be battling that lucky guy, and hopefully we will have shared some incredible experiences before he slows down and we reminisce about our adventures on a porch swing rather than go out and live them first hand.

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Really, isn’t this the cutest thing ever? 

I want to see that I’ve prioritized creativity, however that looks. Maybe I will have taken my writing on a new journey, or maybe all the paintings in my house are ones that I’ve created, or maybe I will have gotten back into video content and am doing something awesome with that.

As I thought about this list of what I want in my next twenty years, I was struck by something.

My list is very simple.

Health, fitness, travel, financial wellness, creativity, and a solid romantic partnership.

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Nowhere in that list do I see a dream car, a dream house, a job title, a specific athletic or career accomplishment, my weight, or anything about other people’s opinions of me.

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I don’t spend all my time measuring forward or backwards, but I do think there’s benefit to zooming out like that. To check in with what really matters, and then see if what you’re actually spending your time on matches up with that bigger picture.

This simple list is what I am using as my road map. My simple road map, to a life that is truly what I want, and what I will look back on fondly as I move towards the 60 year mark, and hopefully well beyond.

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