By: Revanche

Being Driven By Tomorrow’s Regrets

April 9, 2010

In a lot of ways, my motivation for being responsible is because I don’t ever want to look back and wish I’d tried one thing or started another. In my mind’s eye, five or ten years from now I’m going to have certain wishes and expectations for my life that Present Me has to start to fulfill right now in order for it to come to fruition later.

Owning a Home, Having a Family

There are very few inspirations in life that spring full-form from my imagination and bear fruit immediately. Sometimes I just want a McDonald’s apple pie and that’s just a short walk and a dollar away.  Other times, I want cute homemade pies and that’s a whole week of buying ingredients, finding the perfect pots, and settling down to business for a whole day.

I equate life processes with construction: you cannot have a house without a foundation; you cannot have double paned glass in your bay window seat if you never built walls. In the same way, you can’t own a home without having first secured a steady income, saved for a down payment, or managed your bills so that a mortgage would fit comfortably among your other financial obligations.

The same goes for having a family. I don’t have a mental picture of who my family “should” be (which means I fail as an Asian parent already) or what we’ll be doing, but I do know that I want us to all be healthy, hearty and whole. That means I have to have built solid relationships, platonic or romantic, to be a stable person with a spouse with whom I can be happy.

People-watching, and listening to colleagues blow off steam, has revealed that while the most unstable individuals certainly had relationships, they were flighty, nervous, insecure and altogether miserable. Sure, they weren’t miserable alone, but that just meant two people (and all their friends around them) were brought down to the same level.

I can’t control other people, but I can make wiser choices and not torture a potential spouse with unfounded accusations and neuroses that spring from previous choices.

And if I want to retire someday, it’d be a much cushier retirement if I had enough socked away 40 years from now to fund all my retirement schemes. 

Reach for the stars

Even though my feet are firmly planted on the ground (and heights make me nervous so they’ll stay there), my head can be in the clouds, dreaming up the destination I’d love to arrive at some day, and mapping out the roads I might take to get there.

I won’t lie, sometimes Future Me is a demanding jerk and Present Me hates her for that.

[1. Ph.D.? Are you serious? How the H*&^%^ do I make that happen while working my way up a ladder to make 6 figures??
2. Really? Make your own wedding dress and learn to speak 4 different languages? Bite me.]

But sometimes Future Me has great ideas and Present Me can’t wait to get started.

[A contrarian message from Doghouse Diaries

8 Responses to “Being Driven By Tomorrow’s Regrets”

  1. Jersey Mom says:

    You know what you want in life. You don’t stand still and let life happen to you. I don’t think you’ll have any regrets when you look back.
    Owning a home and having a family is wonderful; it will happen when you’re ready. Many marriages do not last and that is unfortunate but I believe you will have a successful one because you are truthful, honest, and continually improving yourself.

  2. How do you get the Ph.D while laboring toward the 6-figure salary? One potential strategy: get an employer to foot the bill for the master’s. Some still do.

    What’s your field? Some new Ph.D.s earn a surprising amount. One of my clients was a Chinese woman with a freshly minted doctorate in accountancy. She STARTED with 6 figures at ASU West–a backwater institution in a right-to-work state. It may be worth stepping off the fast track in the workplace long enough to get that degree.

  3. I second Funny’s comment above. I would add: only go for the doctorate if your goal is to teach. A masters takes only a year and a half or two. A doctorate takes about 5 more than that.

  4. Wow. A Ph.D.! Though I am thinking of going back to school in a few years, a Ph.D. is quite the commitment! Good for you!

    PS. Is it weird that I think the coolest part of having a Ph.D. is that everyone gets to call you Doctor?!

  5. Shelley says:

    I never thought so much about long term future when I was making frugal choices. Probably because I never aimed for a portfolio…which I’m working on now with baby steps. My thoughts were just “Do I want this coke, or do I want a house? Do I want this dress, or do I want a house? Do I want to eat out, or do I want a house?” I really wanted a house, so it didn’t seem very hard at all. I now own 3 paid-off houses and live off the rent income of two, so I guess you could say they are my portfolio, but not the same kind.

    Here in England I see Ph.D.s working at universities like they were in a sweat shop or something and tenured positions are increasingly rare. I’d be very cautious about pursuing a Ph.D. I personally wouldn’t, but at one time I thought it would be cool. I stopped at my Masters and was satisfied with the return I got.

  6. AWESOME POST!!! Totally going to write one up about this. Amazing. No words….just I can totally relate. TOTALLY. I love that comic, too. Sometimes you just gotta laugh about that stuff. 🙂

  7. Do whatever YOU want to do. The rest of it will fall in place.

  8. Revanche says:

    @Jersey Mom: Thank you, that’s a very flattering opinion of me!

    @FaM, Frugal Scholar: I’m lib arts so honestly, any doctorate or masters should really be OUT of my field to be worth anything more than a barrow of debt.

    @aspiringminimalist: Don’t be too impressed! 🙂 Having everyone call me doctor was the second reason I wanted a Ph.D. when I was young.

    @Shelley: That’s very much a portfolio that I respect, I’m a little too conservative right now to fathom a RE portfolio but I would like to have the same someday, if it’s worth it down the road.

    It’s likely still the cool factor of the Ph.D. I’m attracted to, but I KNOW it’s not all that once you’re in it.

    @Carrie: Why thank you, darlin! Give me a heads-up so I can link you!

    @Rina: That’s a solid philosophy.

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