As adults, we all nurture the secret wish to go back in time and change a few things here and there, so that our life gets better than it is now, in the present.

“Ah, I wish I had studied harder during my masters!” some might resent.

“Only if I had chosen Commerce over Engineering!” is another common wish.

Some would say, “I would have been richer only if I had behaved better as an investor when I was just starting out.”

And then, “I wish I had started saving and investing 15 years back!”

Well, imagine you are given a chance to flip a switch to go back in time when you were young. What would you do?

Would your relive your carefree life?

Would you make a different choice so that your future is brighter than it is now?

Or you are one of those who believe that going back in time is impossible and thus you would like to leave your past alone?

Anyways, before I hear from you, here is a letter I have written to my 25-year-old self containing some words of guidance on what he (me) must do to live a better life in the future (than I am living now).

I am not trying to complain about my present (it’s more beautiful that I could have ever imagined). I’m just trying to cater to my human need of taking better control of things by doing some things better in the past. :-)

Here I start.

Sept. 24, 2003

Dear me at age 25,

I am writing to you from the year 2012, having reached an age of 34. I haven’t stated feeling old yet, but I would still tender you some guidance on living a better, peaceful life.

All this because I love you so much that I would like to see you live a life brighter and better than I’ve done so far.

It’s great to see you complete you MBA and feel proud of your new job in the stock market – that funny place where your ego can grow faster than your wealth, and before you know it you can be consumed by the shiny stuff you see all around.

Before I continue, let me tell you that I am not here to disappoint you or depress you talking about your probable future.

I just want you to see things in better light – lest you may blame others for any wrong that may come to you of your own doing.

So here are a few things I want to tell you about yourself and your future. Hopefully, they’ll save you some pain.

Time is short, and thus I will restrict myself to just ten points of guidance, which I wish someone had given to me when I was your age.

Here I begin.

One, you will be at high risk of burning off early being in this industry where your mind will be expected work 24x7. So make sure you take out time to listen to music and create art like you have been doing over the past 10 years. However busy, rich, or old you grow, don’t ever kill the child within you, or you would regret it.

Two, a great man once said that you need just three things to succeed in life – energy, intelligence, and integrity – and without the last one, i.e., integrity, the first two can lead you to hell. So watch out, especially because you will find the last one missing in a lot of people around you.

Three, don’t ever lose your health chasing wealth. Always remain in great shape. People will take you to be smarter than you are. Believe me, it’s true!

Four, don’t take your future plans too seriously. The future will always surprise you. So live each day as it comes, do your hard work, and leave everything else to God.

Five, even if you feel like the “master of the Universe” at times, keep your belief in God intact. This is because if you don’t believe in Him and He does not exist, you will be fine. But if He exists, you might face greater troubles in your afterlife.

Six, in your hour of pride or while you go through extreme hardships in your career and life, always remember the six words that are true and appropriate in all times and situations – "And this, too, shall pass away."

Seven, I read somewhere that, like love, resistance to temptation can make your heart grow stronger. So whatever you do in the rest of your life, just resist the temptation – good or bad. Always remember what your grandma told you – “Have patience, never be greedy, fearful, or jealous.”

Eight, don’t be totally self-obsessed. If you spend just ten percent of your time thinking about others instead of worrying just about your waist, taste, stocks and bank balance, you will feel more content and have a greater respect for life.

Nine, and this is specific to your life as a stock market analyst and investor – please, please, please read “The Intelligent Investor” by Benjamin Graham and Warren Buffett’s letters to shareholders…not once but several times over, and make your notes. I did this a bit later than I should have…and thus regret. You shouldn’t!

Ten, buy stocks as if you have only 20 chances to do so in this life. In short, make careful choices. And please, please buy some stock in Asian Paints, HDFC, and Titan Industries…and hold them for the next 10 years. Seriously. You’ll thank me later.

I believe in you, and look forward to respecting you more than I do now.

The 34-year-old You

The inspiration for this post came from here

About the Author: Vishal is the Chief Tribesman at Safal Niveshak, where he works with small investors to help them become smarter, independent, and successful in their stock market investing and personal finance decisions.

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Comment by Angelo Lobo on October 1, 2012 at 1:45pm

Vishal, amazing post. I loved all your points, except for point five. It's essentially Pascal's Wager, which is a highly flawed argument. Better people that me have debunked it, but it boils down to a few essential points.

1) Which God do you believe in? Allah? Jesus? Zeus? Poseidon? There are literally hundreds of Gods, past and present, heading up faiths that are incompatible with each other. What happens if you choose to believe in Zeus, only to die and find that was the wrong choice?

2) Lets assume that instead of a specific God, you choose to believe in a general idea of a higher being. In this case, why would you assert that "...if He exists, you might face greater troubles in your afterlife."

First, if you believe in a general God, then He has never stated that you must believe in Him to receive a reward. Second, I find the thought that a higher being would be so petty as to demand our slavish love to be a troubling one.

My belief is that you should just live a good life. In the timeless words of Bill and Ted, just Be Excellent to each other and don't forget to Party On! If you simply ensure that you go through life being nice to people and helpful when you can, then no true God can deny you your reward in the afterlife. Because you were a Good Person. :)

When you die, you will have as much chance at a great afterlife as a religious person who was as good as you. It boils down to how we treat God's other creations, rather than following a specific dogma in the hope of a future reward.

I firmly believe one thing. You can tell the mark of a man based on how he treats Old people, Domestic Help/Waiters/Drivers and Animals. These are all God's Creatures that can't always fight for themselves. A man who treats them with disrespect is not worthy of our respect. Or God's blessing.

Comment by Neha Chopra on September 29, 2012 at 12:31pm

Very true... Loved the point one, four and six... Thanks for such a wonderful post :)

Comment by Manish Malik on September 27, 2012 at 2:31pm

Thanks for point Four. It's such an understated advice, and that I want to say it again... Thanks for point Four.

(and thanks for the entire post as well) ;-)

Comment by Gaurang Bhatt on September 24, 2012 at 6:00pm

Reminded me the site , where you can write a letter to your future self. Worth trying.

Comment by Akshay Dedhia on September 24, 2012 at 3:10pm

Wow Vishal, amazing post loved these words : "And this, too, shall pass away."

So so true..

Comment by Vishal Khandelwal on September 24, 2012 at 10:20am

Thanks Asha. :-)

Comment by asha chaudhry on September 24, 2012 at 10:14am


i always look fwd to your blog posts. especially the letters!


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