10 Year Plan

Yesterday, I was scrolling through my Google Photos, and at the top, it sometimes gives you suggestions for 10-year-old pictures. I clicked on it. These photos were from exactly 10 years ago at this time. In those pictures, I saw myself in Pakistan, attending my sister-in-law's wedding. As I browsed through those pictures, I noticed many faces that are no longer with us. A lot of memories have vanished. A lot has happened in 10 years. You might think that on the surface, 10 years is not much, but if so many things have happened, imagine what will happen in the next 10 years.

So, in these last 10 years, let me recap just to barely touch on the things that have happened. I lost my mother, my brother, my cousin, numerous other family members, and friends. Some well-known people have died during this period. I have seen people I know go through major illnesses or battle serious diseases. In these 10 years, I have seen the health of other loved ones deteriorate. You can see visible signs of aging on their faces. Similarly, our own faces have changed in these 10 years. Age has taken a toll. My family looks different. My sons, who were 5 and 6 years old, are now teenagers. They look and act totally different. They are different people now.

As babies, their needs and wants were different. As they have grown, they look and act differently. They no longer play the sports or games they used to. Unfortunately, during these 10 years, they were hit hard by the technological boom and absorbed by technological distractions like streaming videos and social media. In between, COVID came and disrupted everyone’s life. Many people suffered, and even after COVID, many are still suffering. Nobody can pinpoint exactly what it is, but there are more heart attacks and strokes, possibly triggered by COVID exposure or the vaccine. I lost my own mother to COVID, so I know it can be lethal.

In these 10 years, technology has changed so much. The way I used to do business has changed. AI and automation have played big roles. Marketing methods have evolved, and processes and procedures at work have become more efficient. ChatGPT was a game changer, leveling the playing field for many. Effective writing can now be achieved through ChatGPT.

We saw the aftereffects of the real estate market collapse and its recovery. During COVID, the stock market crashed, recovered, and crashed again. We saw many cycles of cryptocurrency, with Bitcoin going up and down. Personally, we had to let go of our house due to a downturn in real estate market. We bought new cars, lost some to accidents, moved to a new office, and a new house. We traveled to numerous countries, met thousands of people, attended hundreds of parties, and completed thousands of tax returns. The business expanded, we tried many ventures, failed in most, and transacted different real estate deals. Some ventures went bankrupt, while others made money. We borrowed and invested millions of dollars, seeing significant fluctuations in our net worth. We went from being bankrupt to being financially stable. And this is just what happened in the last 10 years.

And even when I look at my own pictures, I see the resemblance, the signs of aging. Now, we don't look that young. When I see pictures of my friends, their faces show age as well. Some of them are now struggling; their bodies are gradually giving them resistance and a hard time. The years of abuse, poor food choices, and inactivity are finally catching up, and we are seeing its effects now. For those of us in our fifties, we are really seeing the effects of aging. No matter how well you have taken care of yourself, age will eventually catch up with you. You might postpone some of the inevitable signs of aging, but sooner or later, they will appear.

We have experimented with different diets, foods, exercise regimens, fasting routines, and cooking methods, all in an effort to take care of ourselves. We have helped and sponsored different charitable causes, provided financial support, volunteered our time, and was engaged in my CPA practice. We have tried to be part of a community, a society, and an extended family, contributing as much as possible. In these 10 years, I have gained a tremendous amount of knowledge, read hundreds of books, taken dozens of courses, listened to audiobooks, and had numerous discussions with friends and family about various topics.

Reflecting on these past 10 years, if all this has happened, imagine what could happen in the next 10 years if we continue at the same pace. For example, if my son was 5 years old 10 years ago, now he is 15. In 10 years, he will be 25, a totally different scenario. He will have completed his education and be pursuing his career. Who knows in what city or field he will be? He may no longer be living with us.

Similarly, on the career front, who knows where we will be? With the rise of generative AI, many jobs may change or disappear. Who knows where our business will be or where our earnings will come from? How will we pay our bills in the next 10 years? We have already lost so many people in the last decade. Who else will we lose? Will we still be here? Every day is a blessing, and no one knows for sure if they will survive the day. Any accident, calamity, or illness can strike at any time. Who will survive this decade? What will the quality of our health and life be? Will we suffer from chronic pain or diseases? Will we face mobility issues or psychological and mental challenges?

God knows how many people we will lose and how many setbacks we will face. Financially, we might lose everything. Sooner or later we will lose money, fame, respect, strength, mobility, and comfort. Eventually, we will lose our lives. In this equation, there is nothing we can keep. Everything will eventually go away, including our most precious possession: our life.

In the last 10 years, we have lost a lot. In the next 10 years, we will lose more—whether physical things, health, mental comfort, or other attributes. Our senses might get impaired, our thinking and memory affected. We will lose everything, including our memories. This is inevitable. But equally, there could be gains. For us, maintaining the status quo—keeping our health, comfort, and stability—would be an accomplishment. Ironically, the best scenario is to remain at the same level. If we can somehow manage to keep our health, wealth, and jobs, that will be a success.

But there are other areas we can potentially improve on. We can learn more and not just be passive learners. We should utilize knowledge for our own benefit and for the betterment of our friends, family, and society. What good is knowledge if it's not utilized? It's like buying a brand new car and not using it, just looking at it. What good is that? It's of no use. Similarly, knowledge can grow with age, and health can be improved. More importantly, our habits can be improved. In these 10 years, we can work on better habits, leading to a more satisfied and content life. We can improve our character and our virtues. We can strive to be better people.

When making decisions in the next 10 years, consider the long-term perspective. How will you feel about this decision in 10 years? For instance, the grudges you hold against loved ones—once they are gone, will those grudges have mattered? In the heat of the moment, our ego and pride may seem important, but in the long run, these things are insignificant. Reflecting on the past 10 years and projecting into the future helps us avoid past mistakes and learn to be better, happier, and more content individuals.

Don’t waste time. Don’t let big technological companies distract you from your core path or abuse your body. The moral of the story is to focus on what truly matters. If I have any regrets about the last 10 years, it might be that I could have spent more time with the people we've lost. I could have done more for my mother, provided more comfort, and perhaps implemented better exercise and diet regimens for my family. Maybe I could have been more present in the moment instead of constantly thinking about the future.

I could have taken better care of my health, eaten healthier food, perhaps adopted a plant-based diet, and developed a better physique and biomarkers. I could have focused more on my work and eliminated distractions early on. Despite these reflections, I believe I did the best I could, better than what I see around me. I said no to technology more than most, exercised, and was present. Compared to an ordinary person, I did much more, although there is always room for improvement.

So, there is no significant regret. I did what I could, and it could have been better, but overall, I have no major regrets.

So, in these next 10 years, the game plan is to live in such a way that, when I look back, I won't have to say, "I could have done a little bit more." I want to eliminate that phrase from my vocabulary. Here are the lessons I’ve learned from the past decade that I will follow in the next:

1.      Consume only food that my body loves. I will be very careful about what I eat. There will be strict barriers; only nutritionally healthy foods will pass.

2.      Eliminate unnecessary mental stimuli. This includes news, propaganda, unnecessary chatter, distractions, social media, and streaming videos.

3.      Be present in the moment. Treasure each moment without worrying about the past or future. Enjoy the present.

4.      Don’t sweat the small stuff. Look at things from a long-term perspective. If something won't matter in 10 years, it's not worth worrying about now.

5.      Treasure every minute with loved ones. Spend quality time with my kids, wife, friends, and family. Enjoy and cherish these moments.

6.      Work on your character. Character is one thing that can improve with age. Focus on virtues and strive to have a positive, inspiring character.

7.      Expand your knowledge and implement it. Learn as much as possible, convert it into wisdom, and share it with others through blogs, books, discussions, and debates. Make a difference in others' lives through education.

8.      Improve the lives of others and make the world a better place. Engage in environmentally sustainable practices. Drive electric cars, avoid bottled water, recycle, use renewable energy, conserve water, and avoid polluting the environment. Plant trees and aim for a zero-carbon footprint. Respect and value all creatures.

These are the lessons I will try to implement, aiming for the best decade of my life—one with no regrets, full of enjoyment, learning, growth, and care for ourselves and others. I will accept reality, whatever it brings, and plan for it while respecting the laws of nature.

I hope we all can lead a productive, healthy, and prosperous next decade. See you all after a decade—I hope to be around to reflect on and evaluate the coming years.