Derek Sivers
from the book “How to Live”:

Here’s how to live: Think super-long-term.


In 1790, Benjamin Franklin gifted £2000 to the cities of Philadelphia and Boston by putting it into a 200-year trust, and by 1990 it was worth over $7 million.
If you put $2000 into the stock market for 200 years at the average 8% return, it will be worth over $9 billion.
If you can do $100,000, it will be worth over $483 billion.

Live like this.
Serve the future.
Do small things now with huge benefits for your older self, your descendants, and future generations.

Actions amplify through time to have a massive impact on the future.
Let this fact guide your life.
Use a time machine in your mind, constantly picturing your future self and your great-grandchildren’s world.
Act now to influence that time.

The actions are obvious.
Put money in an investment account and never withdraw.
Eat mostly vegetables.
Exercise always.
Get preventative health checkups.
Make time for your relationships.
Do these, yes, but let’s look at less-obvious ones.

The biggest challenge is to think long-term when life is pulling you around.
You need a constant vivid reminder.
So use an age progression filter — the software that takes a photo of a face and realistically makes it look thirty years older.
Run it on some photos of yourself.
See your elderly face, and take care of that person.
Run it on photos of the people you care for.
Save the results and put them where you’ll see them every day.
These future people are your responsibility now.

Imagine your future self judging your current life choices.
When making a decision, ask yourself how you’ll feel about it when you’re old.
What would your future self and family thank you for?
Simple actions now will compound to give them a better life.

Delay gratification.
Today’s discomfort brings future rewards.
When you have a clear view of the future, you won’t mind the small sacrifice.
You never regret not indulging.

Only spend money on things that do long-term good, like education.
In other words, never spend, only invest.
The earlier you start, the better, since time is the multiplier.

Many huge achievements are just the result of little actions done persistently over time.
Cities began with just one building.
Walmart was one little store.
People with incredible skill just practiced every day.
Put $25 a day in your investment account, and in thirty years, you’ll have over a million dollars.

We overestimate what we can do in one year.
We underestimate what we can do in ten years.
If you take up a new hobby at the age of forty, or whatever age you think is too late, you’ll be an expert by the age of sixty.

Be extra-careful of habits that seem harmless.
Imagine each choice continuing forever.
Eat a cookie, and eventually you’re obese.
Shop for fun, and eventually you’re deep in debt.
When you choose a behavior, you choose its future consequences.

Thinking of the future doesn’t come naturally.
Our hunter-gatherer ancestors had to live moment-to-moment, so our tendency to focus on today is built into our biology.
But times have changed.
Now the surviving fittest are the ones who plan ahead.

You owe your quality of life to people in past generations.
We say someone is lucky if they are born into a rich family, in a stable country, full of opportunity.
But that luck was created by the grandparents that moved to that promising place, then worked hard and saved money for the next generation instead of spending it themselves.
Make your grandchildren lucky like this.
Move to a place with good values that’s headed in the right direction.

Climate change might make everything between 40° and -40° latitude quite unlivable, so start getting legal resident status in a country outside of that, like Canada, New Zealand, or the Nordics.
These might be the last livable places on Earth.
Make sure your grandchildren will have citizenship.
Be a great ancestor.

Plan your death.
Write your will now.
Make sure your heirs know where everything is, and who to contact.

Short-term thinking is the root of most of our problems, from pollution to debt, both personal and global.
Easter Island used to be filled with trees, but early settlers cut them down, and they never grew back.
Greenland used to have grass, but early settlers let their sheep graze, and it never grew back.
A few short-term decisions can lead to centuries of destruction.

We treat the future like a garbage dump.
We dump our debts, pollution, junk, and responsibilities on the future, as if it’s a problem solved.
It’s the most psychopathically inconsiderate thing we do to our children, since it’s their world, not ours.

Your future self is depending on you.
Your descendants are depending on you.
Our future generations are depending on us.
Use the compounding amplifier of time.
Thinking super-long-term is how to live.