How do you optimize your total time on earth, not knowing how long that time will be? What to do when? Where to set priorities? What assumptions to make regarding your expected age and health?
Past – Present – Future
You can spend every minute only once. You also know the saying “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift, that’s why it’s called the ‘present.'” or a variation of this sentence. It often hangs as a magnet on fridges or in cubicles at work and was made famous by the movie Kung Fu Panda. This phrase gets right to the heart of things. History might give us good or bad memories, but it is done and gone. The future is unknown, though we can plan for it to a certain degree. Today, only the “now” – the present moment – exists
Enjoy the same thing 3 times
Ideally, you can enjoy a good thing three times. The first time occurs when you plan for it, like a “once-in-a-lifetime” vacation. You plan the itenerary, look at the pretty pictures in the catalog or online, and start dreaming. The second time comes during your trip when you enjoy the vacation to the fullest. If you are lucky, your expectations are exceeded and every minute is a blessing. After your return and for the rest of your life, you look back at this special time, with the help of some amazing pictures you took.
Time beats money
You also know the famous quote about “nobody ever regretted having not spent more time in the office during his or her life” when lying on their deathbed. Realizing that every minute is precious because once spent it does not come back, is quite powerful. It means that if you really think about it, the only thing you are short on during your life is time. Of course, health is the foundation and money might be the means to enjoy time, but it is time itself that is in short supply. In fact, it gets worse. Not only is time limited, you don’t even know how much you have got left.
You are not a life insurance company
For a life insurance company, only the average of their insured customers, their risk pool, counts. For example, if you are a non-smoking white female and born in 1950, you are expected to live to the age of 84, let’s say. But let’s analyze life expectancy together. We know that if we fall into one of the publicly available life insurance brackets, this is our mathematical expectancy. The problem is that the average numbers are not you. If you get lucky, you might outlive your life expectancy. Unfortunately, the reverse could also be true. One day, sometimes with advance warning (such as a terminal disease), sometimes without warning (car accident, heart attack), your time is up and your postmortem is about to beging – that is, if you believe in an afterlife.
Now, what do you do?
How do you optimize your life and time not knowing how long it will be? It is an unsolvable riddle. The problem is that you cannot escape the question. You still have to decide day in and day out…what do you believe? What do you do? More specifically: which “games of life” are you playing? Feel free to comment.
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