There’s no dignity in a groin pull.
You can’t walk without limping, and there’s not much you can do about it other than sit with your legs propped up with an ice pack on your crotch.
I ponder this as I sit at my desk with my leg propped up (minus the ice pack).
It seems that playing a Labor Day dads vs. sons soccer game with a bunch of hypercompetitive Brazilian, Colombian, and Venezuelan families without warming up or stretching properly beforehand was a phenomenally bad idea.
It’s OK. I’ll live.
But being laid up has given me time to think about a few things.
To start, at 41, I’m not getting any younger, and I have no business playing soccer with South Americans.
But apart from finding new hobbies to occupy my free time (something low-impact like golf?), I can’t help but think it’s time to reevaluate my goals for the next ten years of my life.
I think this is a useful exercise for anyone else, too.
While my job is to tell other people what to do with their finances, my own goals have been somewhat nebulous.
At 20, looking ahead at the next decade of my life, I expected to graduate from college, find a job and maybe go to graduate school.
I also figured I’d be married before 30 and might even have a kid or two.
And, naturally, I assumed I’d be rich.
Well, I accomplished most of those goals.
I graduated, got that first job and then took a break to get a master’s degree in finance. I also managed to see a good bit of the world, traveling through three continents.
I failed, however, to find a wife or have kids and I sure as hell didn’t get rich.
I didn’t really have defined goals for my 30s. That decade just sort of happened, and most of it is a blur at this point.
I got married, had two kids, bought a house and even managed to start my own business. But none of that was really planned ahead of time.
Most of it was spontaneous and driven by the emotions of the moment. It was great. But it was also total chaos.
Meanwhile, I still didn’t get rich, and my finances actually went backwards for a few years while I struggled to make the business work.
I made some phenomenally poor decisions, throwing good money away on bad projects, and failing to take advantage of a lot of good opportunities that would’ve made me some serious money.
Yet despite making every mistake there is to make, I did manage to play the long game phenomenally well in one critical way.
With the zeal of a religious fanatic, I maxed out my Roth IRA and 401(k) every year, even when the shekels were tight. (Longtime Peak Income readers have heard me talk about this many times before.)
Even when it meant foregoing a new car or a nicer apartment.
Even when it meant having to look my wife in the eye and tell her that I couldn’t afford to buy her a new purse she really wanted or a nicer stroller for the kids.
It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t fun. It caused me a lot of stress, and it took a toll on me physically.
But because I did that, I now have a respectable nest-egg. It’s not enough to retire on today. (Alas, not even close.) And I still have to get up and work for a living.
But it is big enough to take care of me in my golden years.
If I stopped adding new savings today and simply let the nest egg grow on its own for another 20 years, I’ll be in good shape, even with conservative assumptions.
Of course, I’m not going to quit saving any time soon.
A leopard doesn’t change its spots, and I’m hardwired to be a frugal tightwad.
But now I no longer feel the pressure to save and if I want to blow a little money on a vacation or something frivolous for the wife and kids, I can. I’m in a good spot.
The Next 10
This brings me back to my goals for the next ten years of my life.
We’ll go ahead and keep “getting rich” on the list.
Perhaps the third decade will be the charm.
Even though I don’t “need” to, I’d like to continue maxing out my 401(k) every year.
And by the time you read this, I will have maxed out the full $18,500 401(k) contribution for 2018. If nothing else, this sets a good example for my sons.
I’d also like to have my mortgage paid off and my children’s college tuition mostly prepaid. I like the idea of being 100% debt free by 50.
I need to avoid spoiling my children. They’re enjoying the benefits of seeds I planted more than a decade before they were born, and I can’t let them take that for granted.
And naturally, I need to find new hobbies that don’t result in pulled groin muscles. I’m open to suggestions!
Take a minute today and write down a few goals for the next ten years of your life.
If you feel you’ve gotten behind, don’t beat yourself up.
As you can see from my examples, I didn’t meet all of my goals on schedule either. Few people do.
But going through the exercise of making goals gives you something to aspire to and helps you focus.
Though if you’re over 40, I would advise against adding competitive soccer to the list.