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.
A life half lived?
Realising I had (statistically speaking) consumed at least half my life was confronting.
Had my time been well spent?
I mentally ran through the clichéd successful life checklist:
- Bought a house
- Started a business
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.
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!