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A Life Half Lived

A life half lived

A friend recently congratulated me on a life half lived, he claimed I was past the halfway mark in life.

While I suppressed the urge to punch him in the face, he gleefully predicted a future of incompetence, incontinence, impotence, flatulence and several other conditions ending in -ence.

I challenged his premise: longevity is uncertain until after the fact, at which point it ceases to be my problem. I may live to age 100, or I may be run over by a cement truck tomorrow.

longevity is uncertain until after the fact

I also queried whether a halftime life insurance advert during a football match could be considered an authoritative information source.

Long ago I learned to always “trust, but verify”. Rather than dismissing my friend’s throwaway comment, I wondered if he might be onto something.

According to the OECD’s life expectancy at birth projection, I am more than halfway through my life. Although for having made it to 40 they added an additional year to the projection.

OECD Life Expectancy Projection

OECD Life Expectancy Projection

A life half lived?

Realising I had (statistically speaking) consumed at least half my life was confronting.

Had my time been well spent?

Productive?

Successful?

Accomplished?

Fulfilled?

Happy?

I mentally ran through the clichéd successful life checklist:

A life half lived visualised

Tim Urban once wrote about visualising a lifespan by week. I decided to give it a try, the grain of a week being aggregated enough to filter out the noise, while detailed enough to monitor progress and effective utilisation.

Life In Weeks Visualisation

A visualisation of a lifetime segmented by week.

The first thing that jumped out was the portion of my life that I had spent working, compared to the portion I had spent playing.

As a youngster I had been in a hurry to grow up, to “get ahead”, driven to achieve everything earlier and faster than my peers.

As an adult, I appreciate how foolish wishing away my childhood actually was. Many adults spend their whole working lives anticipating the day they can retire, and regain a mastery over their own time not experienced since childhood!

The second thing that jumped out was just how bad I was at taking holidays. Many folks profess a strong desire to travel in retirement. I wonder how many of them (like I was) are unconsciously gambling that they will be young enough, fit enough, and mobile enough to enjoy those travels?

The third, yet most important, thing that jumped out was just how much of my life (potentially) remains an unwritten story.

A life half yet to live

The great thing is I (now) consciously appreciate that time is the most valuable of scarce commodities. Regardless of net worth, popularity, or rung on the career ladder: time cannot be stored, bought, or replenished.

time cannot be stored, bought, or replenished

Jeff Bezos is quoted as observing that the key to success is focusing on “what’s not going to change…?”.

Focussing on the things that don’t change, while triaging anything that won’t take me closer to my goals, should ensure a life fully lived.

One thing is certain: what I do with my future is entirely up to me!

Next steps

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{ 4 comments… add one }
  • weenie 22 December 2017, 17:48

    Hi Slow Dad
    Welcome back to blogging!
    Interesting post, given that although I hadn’t really thought about it, I am past the halfway mark in my life. Yikes!
    Looking at your clichéd successful life checklist, I can only tick two off that list! However, I can’t say that it bothers me since the ‘unchecked items’ would never feature on my own list to begin with, if I had one.
    So if I don’t actually have a list, how would I gauge if I’ve led a successful life so far?
    I guess all I can say is that I’m happy with the life I’ve led so far, I don’t have any regrets, I don’t struggle for money, so to me, that’s success.
    Wow, those Lego sculptures are amazing – I would love to go to an exhibitions.

    • Slow Dad 22 December 2017, 18:54

      Great to hear from you weenie!

      For mine the “clichéd successful life checklist” is a nonsense.

      If something makes you happy then it is good, if not then don’t do it, and don’t worry about it either.

      Some of the happiest people I know have achieved few (if any) traditional life milestones. Conversely I’ve met many miserable people who had ticked off most of them.

      I think we should each choose or own success criteria, if we need bother keeping score at all. If you’re happy then you’re winning at life.

  • The Rhino 9 January 2018, 12:20

    Also, is it really true you sold the last domain name for 10s of k?
    I thought that sort of thing only happened in the late 90s?

    • Slow Dad 9 January 2018, 14:23

      Thanks for visiting Rhino.

      > Also, is it really true you sold the last domain name for 10s of k?

      You give me far too much credit!

      Somebody felt my small blog in some way overlapped with a future endeavour of theirs, and simply made it worth my while to agree that their need was greater than my own.

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