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!