Time Well Spent
“Wealth is the ability to fully experience life.” -- Henry David Thoreau
A few years ago I read an incredible blog post written by Tim Urban called “The Tail End”. I highly recommend you take 5 minutes and read it yourself (If you don't mind a few foul words, just google "The Tail End), but for the sake of this post, I'll try to describe it...
The piece visually describes how many more times one might expect to experience various things, given a 90-year lifespan. For example, if one goes to the beach an average of once per year, and is currently age 40, you may only have 50 more trips to the beach, and he illustrates this with emoji type figures on a chart. You get the picture.
Nonetheless, it’s one of those things that you can’t “unsee”. It’s one thing to say 90 years is a long time, but once you see a 90-year life in weeks you realize it’s not that far off at all. 4,680 weeks can easily fit on a 8.5” x 11” sheet of paper.
For me, it created a real sense of urgency. Life is short. (For the record, I plan to live to 120, but that’s not the point). It also inspired the mission and vision for Walden Financial, and was the basis for the intentional living component of our planning process.
It's probably fair to say the idea has had a pretty big impact on the past few years of my life.
It might sound crazy, but I’ve even gone as far as to create my own chart showing when certain milestones will occur relative to my 90-year life (I actually updated to 100 years, and I removed certain dates from the chart below fo privacy reasons); Clara, Emma and Jack’s high school graduation’s, Jess and I’s 20 year wedding Anniversary, our financial independence goal, my mom and Dad’s milestone birthday’s, etc…
I chose to do this because I don’t want to be one of those people that looks back and wishes they would’ve appreciated the time more. I’m heeding the advice of literally every single person that I’ve spoken with that has adult children. They all say a version of the same thing: “Enjoy it, because it goes fast”. I sincerely believe them, and it scares me.
This reality has changed my perspective on where I focus my energy and how I spend my time. I now have a much clearer direction on what I prioritize and value every day.
I still work very hard on my career. I still “waste” time watching Netflix at night. I still play 4 hour rounds of golf (when Jess lets me). But I also spend time everyday checking certain boxes that I know are essential to my life.
The reality is, time is our most precious non-renewable resource. Yet, many of us have become so desensitized to the value in our days, spending them scrolling through a feed of some sort. I’ll confess, I fall into this trap more often than I’d like to admit. But, I recognize it, and I work to be mindful of it, especially when I’m with my family and friends.
But what if we shifted our focus to the concept of time well spent. What if we prioritized what we love to do and the quality of moments with those we love to be around, rather than the acquisition of things that we’re led to believe we must have. Would we be happier, more fulfilled?
I’ve applied this concept to the way I allocate my resources; time, money, energy, etc… and have found that it has helped me live each day a bit more deliberately. I’m far from perfect, but if Jess and the kids recognize just a hint of a difference then it’s a mission accomplished.
I urge you to think about how you’re allocating your most precious non-renewable resource. Do you wish you were spending it differently? If so, why haven’t you done anything about it?
I don’t mean to suggest its just that easy – I know it’s not. But, if we never think about how we want to spend our time we’ll end up following everyone else’s agenda for our life.
If you want to spend more time living your ideal life, give me a shout. It is possible and I’d love to help you get started.