I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about ‘endgames’ lately. I do this type of thinking in spurts- usually, when I’m having some kind of personal crisis and trying to control something. I’m really great at controlling the future and writing it out makes me feel better.
I did this for the first time in March 2003, under a tree in Research Park. I was a freshman at Texas A&M University and was trying to plot out my life. I predicted ten and twenty years out from that point.
The writing is embarrassing and horrible, so I paraphrased. My future, according to my 19 year old self:
In 2013 (ten years in the future):
- Master two languages.
- Find a career centered on communication and bringing people together.
- Live in a big city
- Begin writing a novel
“I will be accepted as a prominent worker who seeks to make a difference and one will see the world. Travel, words – passion is missing.”
In 2023 (twenty years in the future):
- Have a foundation, a home.
- Surround myself in beauty. A place outside, water, tall trees.
- People who continuously perplex me.
- A subsidence of a fast scene and the rise of a quiet personal scene
- A career that brings me to new places and people.
Results: I am less fluent in Russian than I was 10 years ago. My work has been focused on bringing people together, and to some extent communication – more so technology and social media (which wasn’t even a thing in 2003). Austin is not the big city I envisioned, I wanted out of Texas. I write a lot and have a pretty sweet book cover already designed (I may be doing this publishing thing backwards). I craved stability- that’s why there’s the bleak line about being a ‘worker.’ I had a vague idea that I wanted to live a fast lifestyle for a short while, and then return back to a more relaxed pace.
Ten years after the tree-writing, in a hotel bar in Amsterdam, I revisited my future. Thoughts of my ‘next chapter’ consumed me as I was about to go public with plans I had set in motion 12 months prior. Pulling that trigger made me nervous, so again, I wanted to define the future with some age milestones:
28 – buy a house in Austin, move to NYC
30 – finish draft of first book (travels)
31 – publish first book
32 – move abroad, start a job in a different field
33 – finish book II (NYC adventures)
35 – put a ring on it
36 – move back to the US
37 – buy second house, start own company, pay off first house
39 – kids
41 – move back to Texas
42 – third book
From these predictions, I can draw two conclusions:
- I’ve been fairly consistent in what I want. People, travel, environment, writing – these are the things that are important to me. I know what I want and am somehow consciously/sub-consciously drawn to it. Wanting something and predicting the future, however, are very different things. Whether it be in your social life, career, or relationships – it’s pointless to spin on the unknown.
- These predictions mean nothing. It can be a fun exercise to organize your thoughts, so long as you understand that predicting the future is futile. All you can do is know yourself, define what you want out of life, and pursue those things interminably. There will be curve balls and distractions along the way, but those things shape and force us to consider what we really want.
Whether it’s under a tree or in a hotel bar, I will continue to wonder what the next years have in store. I will return to the question, ‘what is my endgame?’ I don’t know the answer and that’s ok. I do know the things that I need to make me happy and I can put them in my life. Trying to control the rest just adds more stress, takes away from productivity, and limits the amount of happiness you can have.