It’s not that I’m afraid to die, I just don’t want to be there when it happens. – Woody Allen
An interesting exercise I did the other night. I’m 35 days away from my birthday. An event which makes some pause and consider. What if, I asked myself, instead of having this birthday, I knew that I would die in 35 days? This life would end. Being who I am, what makes me tick, what would I do, how would I spend my time?
The answers were illuminating on how I should spend my days, regardless of the time left. I recommend the exercise highly. My answers:
- Work: Would I continue to work? Yes. I have an obligation to the company I founded, my team and investors. I wouldn’t throw away that obligation to sit around all day. Besides, striving at something, meeting goals, gives juice to life. I would be gentler with my team when I’m frustrated, though. I would be gentler with myself when I’m frustrated.
- Worry: Would I worry? No. Why bother? What’s there to worry about? Not achieving my goals? All I can do is commit to what I want and go for it, that’s what I have control over and that’s what my focus should be on. Would I worry about politics, the state of the world? No way. Politics has always been a gong show, as has a good chunk of human history. Worrying or thinking about it isn’t going to change anything, except affect my mental well-being, and given the time left, mental well-being is the number one priority.
- Eating: Would I run out and eat every sugar-laden thing I can get my hands on, all the empty carbs, because, after all, what do I have to lose? Nope. My time here is precious, and quality of that time is the most important thing. Eating crappy foods makes the body look and feel crappy. You’re slower, have sugar highs and lows, and you don’t feel good. I’d eat foods that make my body zing. I’d eat meats, fruits, vegetables, nuts. Drink a bit here and there, but not to excess, as you pay for it the next day – it saps your mind, your strength.
- Fun: I’d have more fun. Whatever I consider that fun to be. I’d try to make the fun more play. Whether it’s dancing or whatever.
- Laugh: I’d definitely laugh more. If I’m not feeling like it, I’d make myself laugh. Laughter is the best emotion I can feel, and I’d work to feel that emotion as much as I can.
- Exercise: I’d work out everyday. Exercise makes me feel good, makes my body zing. It’s a great way to start the day. Our bodies were designed to move, to be challenged. Anything less is shortchanging ourselves. And the physical results help us lead fuller lives, no matter how much time. We have more energy, and let’s be honest, feeling good about our bodies and the shape we’re in is a big mental plus.
- Travel: I wouldn’t necessarily travel to see sights, or mountains I haven’t seen. But that’s me, I have seen many such sights before. So perhaps it’s not as big a priority for me. I’d travel to hang out with a friend or have an experience, though. But not for too long, as time is limited.
- Friends: I’d narrow down who I spend my time with significantly. And I’d spend a little more time making phonecalls to people I care about, rather than texts or emails. Talking gives a connection nothing else can replace.
- Facebook: It is nothing but a cesspool of likes, pokes, photos of girls posing with one arm on hip, and random sharings of things that 99.9% of the time, make no difference. There is no depth. Very few real conversations. Just noise noise noise. I’d spend 0 time on Facebook.
- Twitter: Although better than Facebook, it’s still sharings and thoughts that make no real difference to one’s life. I’d get rid of most of the people I follow, narrow it to a few whose thoughts I honestly care about, and check it once every few days.
- Meditate: I’d meditate daily. Be in connection to the deeper self of who I am.
- Thoughts: I’d watch my thoughts closely. Any thoughts that are disempowering, I’d use whatever tools I know or can learn, to turn them into empowering thoughts. Time’s too limited to be in mental tailspins.
- Write: Would I spend all my time writing, sharing what I’ve learned? At one point in my life, I used to think so. Now, no. Everything I’ve learned, I’ve learned though my human experience, so it’s available to others as well. Heck, many of the conclusions I’ve come to – not that I’m successfully living them – people came to 1000s of years ago. I’d take what I’ve written, throw it up on the web, let it take a life of its own, however it may.
- Emotions: I’d focus on feeling amazing emotions daily. Ones that make your life zing. Inspiration, happiness, fulfillment, enthusiasm, gratitude, etc. They make each day special. I’d work hard on doing whatever it takes to experience those emotions.
- Sleep: I’d sleep 8 hours a night, no exceptions. Read enough studies to know that a full-night’s sleep let’s you have a full day. And I’d want the energy my body needs to experience full, energetic days.
- Movies, videos, etc: I’d cut those down to almost zero. Nothing to be gained there except lose chunks of my time.
- Reading: I’d read things that inspire me, make me laugh, teach me more about myself. I’d read more of the conclusions that the greats, the Buddhas, came to about life. I’d continue to grow until the day I die.
- News: It’s a circus designed to elicit negative emotions. I’d spend no time on it or pay any attention. Only on what matters to me, what I may want to be involved in.
- Techcrunch, etc: Tabloids are a terrible way to waste time.
- Gentleness: I’d be gentle with myself and I’d be gentle with others.
- Sex: Would I have sex every night with a different woman? Nope. Dealing with new women on a consistent basis is a pain. Rather, I’d have great sex a couple times a week – great sex requires you to give fully of yourself, takes time, a partner that can give fully in return, and requires recovery – and like anything, if done all the time, loses its magic. I’d rather read a book or spend time with friends a few nights a week, and schedule another few nights for mindblowing sex, and throw in a few nights where one just wants to cuddle and fall asleep.
- General internet: I’d read a few blogs I consistently enjoy.
- Fears: I’d look at them as mental alarms, a pointer that I’m not centered in the moment, in what matters. Most fears rise from perceived recollection of the past, projecting it onto the future. To pay more than slight mental attention to fear is diluting my mental resource. I’d instead either (1) say fuck it and go against it anyway (2) remind myself that it’s not real and focus on something else (3) look for the gift in the emotion, what exact unresolved issue is causing this fear to come up and resolve it immediately in my mind (4) move on, nothing to see here.
- Nightclubs: Waste of time. Being around people posing in a space that fosters no real connection or depth, I wouldn’t spend my time on.
- What I’ve always wanted to do: If there’s something I’ve always wanted to do, no matter how small, I’d do it. What’s the wait for? If I’ve always wanted a tattoo, I’d get it. If I’ve always wanted to learn to fly, why not, I’d just do it. Whatever it is, if it was in my reach, my capabilities, I’d do it.
- Mornings: They’d be about me, only me, period. No work, no internet. Just what makes me zing, my day zing. I’d spend this time focused on meditation, reading, workouts, whatever I think will increase my mental and physical well-being. I’d give myself a minimum of half-hour for this, preferably 1 hour (to fit in exercise as well).
- Nights: Nothing that drains me at least one hour before bedtime. I’d make that last hour about me or whatever I want to do. Not work, not internet, not movies. Read, sex, cuddle, write, think, etc.