One of my favorite questions in job interviews was always “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”. Not because I had any concrete answer, but because it’s a question that embraces uncertainty. The future is liquid, flexible, and in our own hands to create. My answer to that question changed as much as I’ve changed (which is to say a lot).
When I look at the past 10 years this proves to be true. I never knew I’d join a startup, or that it would be successful. I never knew I’d move to Salt Lake City. 10 years ago I never even wanted to be married – a position I completely changed my mind on.
In other words, a lot can happen in a few short years ranging from personal changes (health issues, disability, family issues) to country or global issues. When we look back in 10 years there might have been another world war, growing water concerns, global famine caused by a struggling supply chain, authoritarianism taking over and that’s just what I can conceive of today. A global pandemic wasn’t on my 2020 bingo card a decade ago.
A Pause for Reality
I started writing this post in April – about a month before my 40th birthday. Mrs. Minafi and I drove up to Seattle to spend two weeks there exploring the area, hanging out with friends, and determining if we may want to move there someday (it’s a possibility, but not anytime soon).
When we got back from the trip I was very motivated to make a few changes in my life. I rejoined my CrossFit gym, started a new skincare routine, began tracking calories with LoseIt, and a few other small changes that could lead to a healthier lifestyle. I came back re-engergized from a vacation–something that rarely happens.
On my second day back at the gym, something unfortunate happened. I was stepping down from a 20″ high box and my knee buckled under my weight (combined with gravity and the two 20-pound weights I was holding). I immediately saw stars and needed to lay down on the ground. In 8 years of CrossFit, I’ve only hurt myself and needed to stop a workout one time before this. I knew immediately it was bad.
I didn’t know how bad at the time.
After a few days of rest, ice, compression, elevation, and ibuprofen, we headed out to an orthopedic center nearby to get a professional opinion. They took an x-ray and went through a few movements. Their opinion? “It looks like an ACL tear, but we’ll need an MRI to know for sure.”
“What’s an ACL tear?”, I asked completely oblivious to the seriousness of the injury.
“We can talk more about that after the MRI. For now, you can…”, and listed off a few stretches and ways to keep safe until we know for sure. I of course went home and learned everything I could about this injury.
I learned that the recommended procedure is knee surgery where they take a tendon from your hamstring. I learned that some people don’t get surgery if they don’t plan to engage in high-intensity sports. I learned that there is a ~6 month+ recovery period after surgery to return to a mostly normal life. I learned the first week after surgery sucks.
Then at 7 AM on my 40th birthday I went in for my MRI. With The Postal Service playing in my headphones, they scanned my knee up and down, through and through. Talk about a memorable way to start the day. 😂
The next day I saw the results online: a full ACL tear.
Since then I’ve met with the orthopedic who I initially met with, and started physical therapy. I mentioned the injury to my barber, who has torn BOTH his ACL’s. Asking him about his experience was a huge help. I’m meeting with a surgeon in 2 weeks to plan out long-term steps.
Between now and surgery (which I assume will be in my future) my goal is to increase my leg strength as much as I can, get a normal stride and focus on physical therapy.
The very first time I tried one of the recommended movements was eye-opening. Standing in place I got up on my tip toes while holding onto our kitchen island. My right knee immediately buckled slightly. Not enough to hurt, but enough to remind me that I’m going to need to relearn a bunch of basic movements.
That was about 3 weeks ago now, and I’m walking much better. I hit 10k steps a few times in the last week, combined with a few personal physical therapy sessions per day. Today I spent most the day walking around the Utah Pride Festival. 🏳️🌈
The financial side of this is still too early to know. We have insurance (*whew*), so much of this will be covered. Maybe we’ll hit the out of pocket max for the year. Our insurance is from the hospital we’re going to (University of Utah Health), which makes it very easy. For my 3 visits so far I’ve paid $17 for a doctor visit with X-rays. Not too bad for a high deductible plan with an HSA. Once the MRI bill comes in I’ll update this post.
In the 3 years since retirement, we’ve been using this same high deductible plan while maxing out our HSA. It has $24k in it so far. My neglect of it also meant that 2022’s contribution was left in cash – which worked out for the markets this year. Two-thirds of that account is invested in $VTI, which is why it’s up 15% overall. Now that we may need this money in the next year, I’ll keep part of it in cash ready to pay knee-related bills that come up.
My Next Decade?
I wanted to start with this story because some of my goals for the next 10 years are going to be strongly influenced by this. It’s caused me to pause and think a lot deeper about what’s important.
This list of what I want from the next 10 years is very much a snapshot as of today. I’ll try to keep this post updated with how things go. In 10 years I might not accomplish anything on this list – but that’s OK. That hopefully means I’ve found higher priorities in life.
Anywhere, here goes!
By the time I’m 41…
I want to be able to hike the mountains of Utah (again)
Since moving here to SLC, I’ve been surprised at how much I love hiking. I enjoy putting in my AirPods, choosing an audiobook, and spending a few hours slowly making my way up a mountain alone. It’s amazing exercise, beautiful and fun.
With my knee injury, I won’t be hiking this summer. The risk of re-injury is just too high to take that chance. I’m hoping that I can have surgery, go to physical therapy, and build back up to the point where I can tackle the same hikes as before for next summer.
I want to get back to the point where I’m physically fit
COVID meant pausing my CrossFit membership – the one fitness program that I stuck with the longest in my entire life. I struggled to replace it with my own workouts and lacked the drive to do them on my own. Up until 2021 I had some larger goals that guided my fitness level (namely running a marathon and hiking the Highline trail).
With those now in the past, I was all ready to set another big goal. That has since switched to being able to do what I was able to do before I started writing this post.
Besides that goal though, I was all ready to set one related to overall fitness level. Mostly I’d like to get back down to the 150s (weight-wise) from my current ~170.
Before my knee injury, I had a plan that by next Memorial Day I’d like to be able to perform Murph (the CrossFit workout with a 1-mile run, 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 air squats, and another 1-mile run) in under an hour. I’ve done it before in as little as 50 minutes, but if I did it
today before my knee injury (without a weighted vest) I’d be amazed to complete it in under 1:25.
Now I believe this will involve a lot more low-impact exercise – which likely means biking, pushups, pulls, and squats. Any recommendations on Pelotons?
I want to grow Hardcover to pay for my food & housing
Here’s the thing: even though I’m “FIRE”, I’m not “I don’t need to ever worry about money again” FIRE. I’m more along the lines of “If everything goes perfectly, we keep expenses low and inflation/the market/housing/climate change cooperate then we’ll be OK-level of FIRE”.
Getting to ramen profitability – the point where it covers our household housing and food – would be a tremendous help and open up more options. I don’t yet know what housing holds for us long-term. Having more options than just an apartment in a fixed price range would help. Setting our FIRE budget in stone would mean ruling out many cities and locations that could be fun to experience.
I also worry about the impacts of climate change and limited resources in the future impacting, well, everything. I put our basic household expenses at about $3,000 a month right now for rent + food.
By the time I’m 45…
This is where it gets a lot more difficult. 5 years ago I was still living in Orlando, working a full-time job, and not even married yet! There are so many adventures I don’t even know I’ll go on that won’t be listed here that I’m just as excited about as the ones I want to experience.
I want to learn how to build mobile apps
For my entire career, I’ve considered myself a full-stack web developer. I can conceptualize and build out a website from top to bottom. This is both my most polished skill and the one I enjoy using the most.
But somehow I’ve never been able to get into mobile app development – building apps that run on phones.
I’ve tried to learn mobile development a few times. I went to WWDC (Apple’s developer conference in San Francisco) with a few coworkers from Code School. I took a class at a local community college to learn iOS programming. I worked on a number of iOS courses at Code School. I even built an app to browse the Epcot Food & Wine menu for fun but never released it.
The difference this time is that I have a project I want to make a mobile app for: Hardcover. Unless we hire an app developer, it’ll be on me to make this. I’m honestly very excited about this. Hardcover is built using React, which opens us up to using React Native to build something that works cross-platform. I haven’t started on this yet, but I’m actively reading up on this space, watching tutorials, and preparing for when we start on the Hardcover mobile app!
I want to go on a 6-week (or longer) international trip
Here’s the thing, I’ve never taken a trip longer than 2 weeks. We had a 3-week trip planned for South Korea and Taiwan in March of 2020 that was obviously called off. Now that Mrs. Minafi is also not working, we have the time, but with COVID we haven’t unpaused that part of our lives.
It’s also tough with our dog Lily leaving her somewhere for long periods of time. She’s 15 years old next week, which is getting up there in age. We wouldn’t want to travel too long without her. Eventually, I’d love to try a 6-week trip somewhere outside the country. That could mean one place or multiple places for a few weeks each. This would be more focused on living like locals and exploring the nearby area rather than being go-go-go.
I want to grow Hardcover into a successful business
As much as I’ve loved working on Minafi for the last few years, working on Hardcover has hit a sweet spot of an ambitious project, with exciting technical problems, collaboration, and a genuine need to have something replace Amazon’s Goodreads. As I’m writing this now, I think this will be my main project for the next few years. I still love having Minafi to write about whatever comes to mind, with a skew towards finances.
The hope is to grow Hardcover into a business that generates enough revenue to pay me and the team working on it a thriving wage, provide healthcare, and a 401(k). It doesn’t need to make us rich, but I’d love to be able to pay my bills and put away some in savings.
I’m also hoping to keep the team small. We can grow this space a lot with only a handful of people. I can’t imagine growing beyond a few full-time people, or 10 people overall working on the project – but we’ll see!
By the time I’m 50…
I want to give away $1 million.
Might as well think big right? A major focus with Hardcover is to create a business that can scale with a small group of people.
I’ve been tremendously inspired by many in the FIRE community who have pledged large amounts to help others. Physician on FIRE, Mr. Money Mustache, and Our Next Life have all written about donor-advised funds as a way of organizing giving. This may be through that, or through a non-profit part of Hardcover.
We’ve talked about potentially becoming a B-Corporation, which might work (although hearing that Nestle is a B-corp kind of takes some of the wind out of those sails). Either way, I want to set up Hardcover with giving in mind from the start – shooting for half of our after-tax revenue.
I want to visit all 50 states by the time I’m 50!
I’ve visited 42 states so far. 8 states in 10 years sound more than doable – especially when six of them are grouped together. My remaining states are Alaska, Hawaii, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Iowa. I’m always on the lookout for interesting events, conferences, or friends in these states. If you know of any please let me know.
I want to figure out where to live long-term
This is more difficult than I thought it would be. There might be more than one answer to this. We’ve been hesitant to buy a house again because we haven’t found that place we want to live in for the rest of our lives (or even 5 or 10 years).
As much as I love Salt Lake City, the politics of Utah go against too much of what I believe in to feel at home here long-term. I can’t even buy a draft beer above 5%, a normal-sized cocktail, or a weed gummy in the state. I’m still figuring out what we want in a home base. As I’m writing this now we’ve spent two weeks in Seattle being locals. I’d love to spend a few weeks in a number of other places on our list of potential places to live. The current list? SLC, Seattle, Portland, Boulder, Amsterdam, Scotland, and who knows where else.
I want to fitness to be on autopilot
It’s been tough to find a fitness regime that I enjoy and can stick to. I’ve found a few activities I enjoy: hiking, group exercise classes, weightlifting and yoga. With my knee and COVID I can’t exactly make any plans right now for any of these. Long-term I want to find that sweet spot where I look forward to exercise the way I did in my late 20s/early 30s.
Much of this is taking advice from Younger Next Year. The high level concepts are simple: get an hour of elevated heart rate exercise (110-140 bpm) five times a week. Don’t eat, drink or smoke too much. Get a lot of sleep.
Developing this habit during my first few years of retirement during COVID has been rocky. Luckily it doesn’t need to mean running marathons or doing competitions. It just means building a lifestyle that encourages staying healthy.
What’s Your 10-Year Plan?
Ten years is long enough to pick ambitious goals, but close enough for them to be rooted in reality. My 101 Goals for life span much longer than just 10-years and include quite a few that are curiousities rather than things I plan to organize my life around (although if I try and love surfing, who knows?).
What would you want to accomplish in the next ten years? Another way to think about it is “What questions would like to have answered in the next 1- years?” Sometimes an answer is enough. Share your 10-year plan in the comments!
17 CommentsWhy not add to the conversation below? Your voice is welcome!
June 5, 2022
You should see if you can get stem cell treatment as an alternative to acl surgery.
June 20, 2022
Hmm, that’s something I hadn’t considered! I’ll ask my dr about it in my next appointment.
June 5, 2022
I think you can pay those health care bills from a regular account (outside your HSA) if you want to invest your money. Then pull money out in a future year as you wish (when it has grown). Double check on that, but I think it a strategy Physician on Fire uses…
June 20, 2022
Yeah, we definitely could. I’m leaning towards using it as expenses come up rather than saving it so far, but that might change depending on how much it costs (and how often we have to dig into it). I definitely want my HSA to grow over time though.
June 5, 2022
Hey Adam, sorry to hear about your ACL. PT will be your new hobby for a while! I highly recommend Peloton. We bought the Bike+ when the pandemic closed all the gyms. We needed something to keep us going. We were really surprised at how much we love it! It’s really motivating and the music playlists are great.
There’s a feature called Sessions where you pick a class and they group you with several other people and you all take the same recorded class in real time. So you can compete against other people and see how hard you’re working compared to others in the class. It’s hugely motivating and fun. If you have an Apple Watch, it shows your heart rate and zones on screen. Both my husband and I have improved our health and bloodwork numbers.
I also tried iFIT and Apple Fitness. iFIT is good for beginners who need distraction to keep going. They focus on workouts in beautiful locations. But the workouts themselves are not as motivating. They don’t use music in the class, you can pick an internet radio station, but the playlists are bad.
Apple Fitness is a good second place to Peloton. They have music driven workouts like Peloton. They often have three people leading the class so you can follow the easier, regular or harder levels. I like Peloton better because of the integration with the bike. The Peloton class can control your resistance automatically. And the Sessions make you feel like you are working out with people, which is fun.
June 20, 2022
Glad to hear the Peloton is working out! I’ve been looking into a Bike+ and will likely get one before surgery (because I don’t want to worry about setting everything up after it 😅).
I love group classes, which is probably why I always enjoyed CrossFit so much. Sessions with Apple Watch sounds amazing. Definitely think that’ll be a big part of my PT and recovery.
June 6, 2022
Bummer about your knee. Be patient, take your time and play the long game and you’ll be (almost) good as new. Feel free to hit me up with any rehab questions.
I love the idea of setting those incremental goals. It’s something I’ve been working on as well as I’ve found it is easy to start drifting through life without periodically resetting them.
June 20, 2022
Thanks Chris! I’m preparing myself for a long, slow recovery. 😅
Knowing that I’m goal-oriented, I’ll see what kind of incremental goals I can set with my physical therapist. That would help motivate me for sure.
June 6, 2022
Happy belated 40th Adam! You sure have accomplished much and should be proud. The body is surprisingly resilient and you’ll be hiking those Utah mountains in no time.
Love the plan to give away $1 million, however reading Minafi for so long I’m not surprised. You’re a good dude.
One thing that’s helped me when considering long term goals and the next 5, 10 years is looking back through journal entries of the previous year. What I thought about, what I learned, what themes were present. That way I know to follow through and try things out instead of getting distracted and focusing on what’s next instead of what’s important.
June 20, 2022
Thanks! Looking back at those journal entries is a good idea – as is writing them in the first place! Just having a reminder of what you’re working on that you occasionally refer to is great.
June 6, 2022
Happy birthday Adam!
I’m so sorry to hear about your knee. On the bright side, physical therapy will make you even stronger than you ever were! Since my lower back pain, I’ve done PT for more than a decade and I think I will be fitter in the long run than peers who don’t do physical therapy exercises regularly.
A few friends I know have had ACL surgery. They recovered to lead very active lives, e.g. skiing, soccer, basketball, etc.
Do you have a good surgeon you can trust? One of my SILs had it done, and after rehabbing it, she tore it again (no surgery the second time, she’s got a permanently torn ACL). Not saying it’s the surgeon’s fault. But since surgery is un-doable so hope you find the best team possible to do help you.
Let me know if you’re ever visiting Boulder!
June 20, 2022
Hey Anna! That’s awesome to hear that PT helped that much! That’s what my surgeon mentioned too – that this knee will end up being stronger than my other knee. Seems like one of the biggest risks is injuring my other knee in the year following surgery.
The University of Utah hospital that I’m going to does all of the surgeries for the athletes at the university – which is a good sign that they have a ton of practice. My surgeon has been doing them there for over a decade, which is long enough, but not so long he’s on autopilot 😅 I’m optimistic about it!
Definitely want to check out Boulder. We’re considering that (or/and Portland) for our 2023 road trip. After our trip to Seattle with our dog, we realized how much we like traveling with our pup rather than leaving her in a boarding facility. We’re a lot less stressed having her close. ♥️
Robert - Stop Ironing Shirts
June 12, 2022
Adam – I’m sorry we haven’t talked more after FinCon ‘19, so much of our stories are relatable.
In the fall of 2019 I had to learn about “I can do anything, but not everything” related to exercise. Multiple chronic nagging things made me accept/change workout routines. The good news is it can be done, I’m still at 6+ days a week with minimal pain and was hiking 10+ miles/day at elevation in Yosemite.
The work vs. FIRE in this environment is interesting. I think my inflation adjusted net worth has now grown 2.3%/year after expenses and that can quickly go negative with another 5-10% drop in the market. I’m fortunate to have some skills that can provide significant payment for some occasional deal work. FIRE can happily be about recreational employment too, if I can pickup 1/3rd to 1/2 of my annual expenses on some deal contingency work, lets go.
COVID really did wreck the “where do I want to move” question. We got notice last month that our landlord wants his house back, some combination of money problems that cashing a pair of 250k tax free gains over the course of three years will fix. Outside of the pain of moving on someone else’s schedule, it’s a great opportunity to see other parts of the country and either slow travel or park ourselves in a new spot for a few years. We had similar opinions on our current spot, incredible place to raise a family, but tougher as a FIREy couple without kids. The cost relative to some lifestyle things we’re missing just didn’t make sense to stay. Worse case is we try other places and come back.
Best of luck on the long travel, we’re also dog lovers and after we lost our last pup, we spent five weeks in Hawaii which was incredible. It would have been a longer trip if I didn’t have to help family with something that happened.
Best of luck on the goals for the next 10 years and get that fitness on autopilot. I want to be like the 70yr old I met at CampFI recently who still knocks out 25+ pullups in a gym trip.
June 20, 2022
Whew, 25+ pullups at 70? Yeah, I’d love to get there in my 40s. 😂. When I was at my slimmest (135lbs), I was able to do ~20. Now I max out at 5.
It sounds like we’ve gone on a lot of the same journey recently / in our futures. Picking up side jobs isn’t something I’ve looked into. How’d you end up finding that work? Keeping in touch with connections? I have a feeling I have a number of skills that I could contribute and sell out, but I struggle with the time commitment needed to make it work. I wouldn’t mind coming in for a week, but I don’t want multi-month contracts. That could change depending on how bad inflation or the markets get though. 😅
We’re crossing our fingers that our rent doesn’t increase too much this year. Luckily we’re in a large apartment complex, so it’s unlikely we’d be asked to move. But they could always raise the rent more than we’re comfortable paying. Even though housing has gone up here in SLC, there are constantly new large apartment complexes being built. There are three 300+ unit complexes in the works within a block of us – and one more just announced this week. At least there are options.
July 7, 2022
Hardcover is a fantastic idea! Your React skills are so much better than mine, I’m embarrassed just looking at what you’re able to do. We’re on the same page about wanting a B-Corporation, I didn’t know Nestle was a B Corp. Both our goals for ages 40-50, at least 2-3 points you stated, are eerily similar. Can’t wait to follow along through your journey! I’m 30 this year and you are where I want to be when I turn 40. Adam, you’re goals!!!
October 9, 2022
Just read this and was wondering if you got your MRI explanation of benefits and what it costed you with your plan. Also, with new healthcare plans enrollment coming up, would you sign up for same plan? If not, what factors played a role in your decision making process? Thanks.
December 3, 2022
So far I haven’t gone the route of getting a explanation of a bill beforehand – except for the surgery itself. For that one they did tell me exactly how much I was expected to pay. The MRI cost was much higher than expected.
So far just about everything else – follow-up appointments and physical therapy – have been 100% covered by insurance. I haven’t seen a bill since July.
I just renewed my same insurance plan for 2023! I’m happy with it, and happy to have an HSA to continue offloading money into.