What I Would Say to Myself 5 Years Ago and 5 Years from Now

This is part of the a month long project called #Trust30. On their homepage they describe it as

“…an online initiative and 30-day writing challenge that encourages you to look within and trust yourself. Use this as an opportunity to reflect on your now, and to create direction for your future. 30 prompts from inspiring thought-leaders will guide you on your writing journey.”

For today’s question, I decided to share it. I felt this could inspire you to take a look at the question and find your own answers.

What would you say to the person you were five years ago?

What will you say to the person you’ll be in five years?

Today’s question happened to be asked by Corbett Barr, who I’ve mentioned here.

I decided to write it as a letter to myself five years ago and looking at myself five years from now.


Dear Benny,

I’m writing you this letter from the future. Don’t throw it away. Don’t try and understand how it’s possible. The important thing is to read what I have to say. That’s all you need to understand.

You should do more with your life. If you keep doing what you’re doing now, you’re going to be miserable for the next five years. In five years from now, you’re only beginning to realize your potential in life. Start now. Don’t wait.

For too long you’ve been unhappy with where you work. You’ve been looking for more to your life. The reason you’ve been looking so long is because you’ve been too safe. You were afraid to try new things for fear of failing.

There is no success without failure. If you look at some of the most successful people they have failed numerous times. They didn’t give up because they believed in what they were doing. Don’t let failure stop you.

Take care of your body better. You’ll go through phases where you gain weight and lose weight but stay consistent and healthy. You do your best work when you’re exercising and eating right.

Don’t think buying more things will make you happier. The definition of success isn’t shown by the things you own. Even if you buy a nicer car or a bigger television won’t make you happy for long. In five years, you’ll have a house full of crap you don’t care about.

Surround yourself with inspiring people. Think about the people you hang out with now. Are they the type of people you would want to be? If you can’t find them, look online because there are so many amazing genuine people there.

Read more books. Read for pleasure but read more books that will teach you.

Don’t try and multitask. You’re terrible at it. Focus on one task at a time without distraction. You’ll get more done in less time. Trust me it’s taken me five years to figure that out. I’m going to save you some time.

I know you love to watch TV but limit it to only shows you truly love to watch. Cut out the rest.

Don’t complain about not having time to do things. Everyone has 24 hours in a day. Instead of making a to do list, try to make a list of things you shouldn’t do so you have more time.

Be thankful for what you have and you’ll have more. Thinking of what you don’t have will only keep bringing you nothing. You won’t believe how powerful gratitude is. It’s changing my life everyday as I write this. It can improve your health, wealth and relationships. Besides, life is a gift and you should be most thankful for that.

If you don’t like yourself, then nobody will like you. How do you expect to be a person everyone wants to be around when you don’t even like yourself? Start by changing your attitude about yourself and only then will people be drawn towards you.

Your thoughts are more powerful than you think. How you think you are is the type of person you will be. The outcome you envision in your mind will be the outcome you attract.

That inner voice you have? Shut him up.

There’s only one Benny Hsu in this world. I want you to live life the way you want to. Feel happy every day. I’ve had periods of wondering if life will get any better. Listen to me, it will.

Finally no matter what you do these next five years, make sure in May 2007  you go to Taipei and stay there for 21 months. Be sure on August 8, 2008 you go out with your kickboxing friends to a small club cause you’ll meet the woman of your dreams named Eleanor. Don’t worry she won’t act interested at first but by the end of the night, both your lives will never be the same.

See you in five years.



P.S. Here’s a sneak peak at Eleanor. Beautiful isn’t she? Her personality is even better.


Five Years from Now

Question: What will you say to the person you’ll be in five years?

Dear Benny,

Wow Benny you look great! You look so fit and healthy. You look better than five years ago. You actually look younger but I don’t know how that’s possible. Are you sure you didn’t do Botox? Ok I believe you.

I’m happy the hard worked paid off you and found what it is that you love to do. I can feel the passion when I talk with you. You always tell me you wake up every day and feel so happy. That’s amazing.

I’ve never seen you happier. Five  years ago I imagined life would be good but not in my wildest dreams did I think it would be like this!

Just think in October 2010 you had your breaking point and started to make changes in your life.

You walk differently, you talk differently, and you think differently since then. All in a good way!

Your child is so adorable. Thankfully your child looks like Eleanor and not you. You know I’m kidding right? Ok..I’m not kidding but you understand!

You and Eleanor are the perfect couple and you both act like you just started dating. I knew when I met her she was the perfect one. Five years later I couldn’t be more correct.

I’m proud of what you have done. It makes me feel good to know the work you started five years earlier is paying off.

Just remember to be thankful every day and don’t take life for granted. Take care of your body and your mind. Continue to love yourself, love your family and your friends.

Keep inspiring people and touch lives every day. Your impact in other people’s lives is truly wonderful.

I’m going to work hard these new five years so I will make sure I’m matching how I want my life to be five years from now.

Till I get there, keep my seat warm.




I hope you take the time to write the answers for yourself. It can be short. I can be long. It can be private or on your blog. Answer it however you want.

Also if you’re hoping to learn more about yourself and get better at writing, join #Trust30 at Ralphwaldoemerson.me.

I think you’ll find only positive benefits by learning about yourself from writing each day.

Thank you for taking the time to read my “letters” and hope it’s inspired you in some way.


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  • Awesome post Benny. I especially like the advice of making a list of things you SHOULDN’T do so you have more time. That’s a good approach. That way you don’t always feel like your to-do list is always unfinished. Might be an approach I should try.

    • I think decided what NOT to do is as important as deciding what to do. The little things that “seem” productive but aren’t destroy me!

      • Benny

        Tell me about it Graham! I know all too well about doing things I “think” are important but are not. There’s a time for those “fun” things but if we’ve gotta get stuff done, it’s kills us!

    • Benny

      Thanks Eugene! It’s definitely something I have been doing this year. Figuring out what I should not be doing so I have more time to do what I should.

  • This is pretty intense. I love it! The part about Eleanor was awesome!

    • Benny

      Hahaha…thanks Graham! I was thinking of “Back to the Future” when I added that part about Eleanor. Of course I wish I did so many things differently in the last five years but that’s one thing I wouldn’t change at all.

  • I like the letter format! Thanks for sharing…it has been interesting to read other people’s responses to the prompts.

    • Benny

      Thanks for stopping by Lindsay. I debated on how to write it and the letter format made it easier to write to myself.

      Trust #30 is a pretty cool project and glad I’m doing it too! I’ve missed a couple days though. shhhh don’t tell anyone.

  • Wow Benny this is really awesome!

    I like both exercises. The first letter, helps you understand who you were before, expose your weak points and what things you right and things you did wrong.

    On the other hand, the second letter is your future self. Who you want to be? Where you want to go? What you want to accomplish? and Where you are now?

    This exercise will be useful if you take action immediately because it’s reenergizes you and motivates you to do your best but if you don’t act on it immediately it will just be a waste of time.


    Did you guys get married already? You should, She’s so Beautiful. Congrats!

    • Benny

      Thanks Armand! Writing it definitely helped me to know what I need to do to get where I want and how I envision my life in 5 years.

      No we’re not married yet. Later this year. Thanks Armand!

  • Benny, found your site “accidentally” (though I don’t believe in coincidence) on Twitter…so glad I did.

    I’ve been participating in the #Trust30 challenge too. Really enjoyed the way you wrote letters to yourself

    I’m so thankful that you started making the changes you wanted to last fall. I’ve been in the same place–miserable at work, etc–and finally got to the breaking point. I wrote a book about the process and it’s been a great adventure since.

    You’re definitely on the right track! Keep pursuing the life you desire. Your story is an inspiration!

    • Benny

      Thanks Steve. I thought a letter would make it easier for myself to express what I wanted to say. I’m with you on the breaking point. Wished I took action sooner but can’t dwell on it.

      That’s amazing you have a book in paperback and selling on the Kindle. What a great accomplishment!

  • Hey Benny,
    Great way to keep ourselves in check. Your wife is Gorgeous by the way you lucky dog.

    • Benny

      Hahaha..thanks Justin! I am a lucky dog. I tell her everyday. 🙂

  • This is sooo COOL! and also very valuable.

    I’m going to start writing a littler letter to past me and future me. I’m already full of ideas what I want to say to my former self and what I look forward to seeing in future me.

    This part of the letter resonated so much with me:

    “You should do more with your life. If you keep doing what you’re doing now, you’re going to be miserable for the next five years. In five years from now, you’re only beginning to realize your potential in life. Start now. Don’t wait. ”

    I wish I could go back in time and tell myself exactly that! Change what I don’t like in life. Flip things around and start taking action towards a fulfilling my true potential. Instead of procrastinating about stuff and letting my emotions getting the better of me.

    • Benny

      Try it Allan and I think you’ll find a lot about yourself.

      Also take a look at the #Trust30 homepage and see the different daily topics. It’s a great exercise to find out more about yourself.

      I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  • Benny, Another thought provoking blog. The letters to yourself is awesome!

    I’ve heard it said that we will be 5 years older, either way we decide to go. I can be more productive, outgoing and creative during a 5 year period, or I can become a couch potato and do nothing for the next 5 years, either way I will still be 5 years older.

    The productive, outgoing and creative path is the one that I have chosen.

    • Benny

      Thank you so much Ellene!

      You make a great point that I have read before too. We’re going to be 5 years older in 5 years so decide how to live those next five years.

      You’ve made a wonderful choice and am happy you live your life that way. 🙂

  • Really awesome post, Benny.

    I actually did an exercise like this (from the future, looking back… not writing from now to the past) when I was trying to pick up the pieces from my collapsed start-up, and it was a very helpful process.

    Thanks for the reminder! 🙂

    • Benny

      Thanks Danny. I’m glad I did this exercise to give myself reminders on what I should be doing and how I envision my future to be.

      Writing out feelings and problems does help in tough times. I’ve some some free writing exercises like this and it’s helped.

      I don’t doubt that you’ll be stronger for it. I know you work your butt off and know it’ll pay off. Ill be able to say, ” I remember Danny when…”

      Thanks for coming by Danny!

  • HAHAHA hilarious. Congrats again on the upcoming wedding. You lucky lucky man.

    This post idea is too good. I might steal it for a future post on my site.

    • Benny

      I am a lucky bastard for sure. 🙂

      You should try answering these questions for sure. It’ll help! Look forward to reading it on your blog!

  • First off Benny – let me say that the picture you shared of you and Eleanor is worthy of covering any magazine. That’s a great picture man; elegant and confident.

    I don’t think I’ve ever done a similar exercise as this one. I’m going to have to give this a shot. More than anything I’m interested in what I would say to myself when after really putting thought to it.

    Thanks for sharing this Benny. I wish you the best of luck in every single one of your aspirations.


    • Benny

      Thanks JK! We’ve got some amazing comments on the whole set when we put them on FB. We loved the pictures and had friends raving about them. We didn’t know people would love them that much.

      I had more fun getting dressed up and taking the photos than she did. Isn’t it usually the other way around? 🙂

      Take a look at the link and look at all the prompts they’ve given so far. For example the first day was if we only had 15 mins to live, write the story we want to write. I’m looking forward to doing it for 30 days.

      Thanks for reading it JK and sharing your thoughts. Always appreciate it!

  • This was great Benny. Really enjoyed it and thanks for sharing.

    I am planning on doing one for my own blog in the near future!

    • Benny

      Thanks Adam! You should. It’ll help you out. 🙂

      Thanks for leaving a comment.

  • Wow, this was fantastic Benny.

    I feel like you were, in part, writing to me. I felt very much inspired by this post. It was clear, and had a perfect meaning.

    To improve life!

    We grow principal upon principal, precept upon precept – and often it just takes that time to help us grow and learn. I know it sure takes time for me! Because I’m stubborn.

    • Benny

      Thank you my friend! I’m glad this post was inspiring to you. I didn’t want to it just be about me. 🙂 Have a great weekend there!

  • Oh Benny,
    I swear, i feel like you could be my BROTHER FROM ANOTHER MOTHER.

    The whole letter felt as if i could have written it myself.I used to feel alone in my feelings a couple of years ago when both my husband and i were living it up with 2 six figure income and buying so much stuff we could have raised the GDP of a small third world county..

    But for the last 3 months, i don’t feel alone and that’s because of one simple thing which you even said in your letter to yourself which was….

    “Surround yourself with inspiring people.”
    This has been the key and i feel i’ve made more movement in the direction I want to go in the last 3 months than i have most of my life just because of this one simple thing. Strange but true.

    Having said that, i want to let you know you truly inspire me Benny. I even joined the #Trust30 challenge because I want to do more to make this life more fulfilling NOW not later. I want to do it as fast as i can. I think writing is one of the keys..

    I can tell you and Elenore are going to do great things together and be very happy. You are so aware and conscious about your life how could it be otherwise.

    that picture of you and Eleanor is AMAZING.I LOVE IT. You kids are going to be so cute. I ‘m a mom, i can tell these things you know? I have CUTE-DAR. YOU KNOW like RAY-DAR! CHEERS

    “Half Asian Chick “signing off” LOL…. I had to put this in. (inside joke if anyone is reading this)

    • Benny

      What’s up! First thanks for the compliment about the photo. I loved how our pictures turned out. I told Eleanor I wanted to do it every year..LOL. She wasn’t so sure about that.

      Wow two six figure incomes. Yeah it’s definitely easy to get carried away and buy so much stuff. It wouldn’t put a dent into your bank account. However we know money isn’t the answer to happiness. But if we can do exciting things, feel fulfilled, and make six figures, I’m sure we wouldn’t complain.

      I do find surrounding myself with inspiring people has helped so much. If anything it’s great to read what people are doing. Learn new ideas. And even just joke around like you and I do. Because we take what we’re trying to do seriously but it has to be fun at times too.

      I’m glad you’re going to do the #trust30 challenge. To be better writers we have to write more. Not only do they give a topic a day to write about but we can learn so much from what we write.

      I sure do hope our kids our cute! I think they will be. I’ll trust your CUTE-DAR then!

  • I’ve always wondered what I would say to a younger version of myself if I was given the chance. I think it would be very similar to what you said. I guess it is easy to give advice to your younger self since you’ve gained experiences and confidence since then. But hopefully all that reflection on the past and advice you give will help push you towards a brighter future. I really enjoyed reading what you would say to yourself in five years too. I hope your future self turns out exactly the way you want him to.

    • Benny

      Thanks Steve. Yeah I felt like giving my younger self advice is the stuff I should be saying to myself right now. So those things I wrote about are the same exact things I should be doing. For myself, writing it out makes it more clear.

      Thanks for taking the time to read it Steve! I hope in 5 years you’re doing exactly what you want as well.

  • > How you think you are is the type of person you will be.
    I like this as a powerful one-liner reminder.

    • Benny

      Hi JD. It’s so true and I never realized it before. I thought I could get away with thinking negative thoughts and be the best person I can be. I’m still working on it but at least I’m aware of the power of thoughts. Thanks for coming by as usual JD!

  • Love the letters Benny… I probably wouldn’t have to give mine much thought. It would probably go something like “what were you thinking”!!! But I love that life continues to throw lessons at us and thank goodness a good bit of us actually pay attention right!

    Great job and I appreciate you sharing this with us. Gave me much food for thought young man.

    Now, enjoy your week and keep up the excellent work you do over here. I’ll be back soon.


    • Benny

      Thanks my friend! I know you’re super busy creating your little empire over there! Loved your post today.

  • Lot of wisdom in this post Benny!

    I think your note to future self is especially powerful. Future self is going to be tripped up between now and then. There is going to be times of failure. But if I have learned anything, everything originates from your thoughts. I have gone through periods where I would constantly be a victim of social comparison, been tripped up by failures, and scared away by fear of inadequacy. But if my thoughts are positive, even when the perceived context of a situation may not be, true strength is shown, and great outcomes can be had.

    What I would say to my future self is that social comparison will get you no where. Just like there is only one Benny Hsu, there is only one Chris Barba. And the pathway each of us walk is unique to each and everyone of us.

    Really well written post Benny.


    • Benny

      Hey Chris!

      You’re right it won’t be smooth sailing to future Benny in five years. I just hope to keep those visions and goals in mind and navigate my way and make sure I stay get back on track when I start to veer off course.

      The power of thought is truly amazing. I want to write a post about it but it’s on my to do list. Whatever we think is the type of person we will become. I didn’t know that five years ago but now I do.

      Thanks so much for your comment Chris!

  • That was a great piece which is the most influential thing I’ve read lately. I’m going to start mine today – I just can’t seem to find a picture of my “Eleanor” for that special incentive.

    • Benny


      Thanks for reading it. Definitely do yours. I believe you’ll something new from your answers. As for your own “Eleanor” she’s gotta be somewhere out there! 🙂

  • Benny,
    Great stuff. When I was 21 I looked around me and saw all these people in their 30s who seemed to just be coasting. It terrified me. I sat down and wrote a slew of letters to myself, one to my future wife, one to my first child on their 16th birthday. I was inspired. Now I get a letter every five years. My wife got here letter 12 years ago this month! I got a letter when my daughter was born 5 years ago encouraging me to be an amazing dad. I’ll get my next letter in 3 years – when I turn 40! Crazy. They have been fun. Encouraging. A bit humbling – I was pretty idealistic and has more than a few strange ideas about what really living was. With each letter though I have found that I am able to say, “Yes. I’m doing it. I’m living with passion and purpose and making my life, my families life and the lives around me better.” And that feels good. My mom has the stash and keeps track of when to send them. It was and still is an encouraging act of forced reflection. I’d encourage everyone to do it. Sorry to go on about myself, but it has been such a powerful experience that I wanted to share it with you and others.

    Take care,

    • Benny


      That’s amazing what you did. Writing letters when you were only 21 to your future wife and child. That is such a cool idea. Like something out of a movie! So you wrote them all and your mom has them and knows when to send them. That’s taking it to a whole other level. Have you blogged about it? If not, I think that would be so cool to share. If not on your blog, you could find a good place to guest post with a huge audience.

      Thanks so much for sharing!

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  • Great stuff, Benny. I really appreciate you shared this with us. I love this word “Just remember to be thankful every day and don’t take life for granted”. Thanks for this Benny.

  • Nithima Dangkul

    I happened to found your blog from google.Your journal is really inspiring.Thanks for writing this 🙂