How Would You Spend Your Time If You Knew?

Imagine this.

It’s been 30 years since any anecdotal mention of the pandemic.

Of course, life isn’t perfect. Weird imbalances still exist. We still complain about taxes, elected officials, and so on. Things got better though, but they aren’t vastly different from what we see today.

By now, the marriage of predictive AI and advanced medicine has revolutionized the way we understand and navigate our health.

AI and medicine have become so advanced that we can predict, diagnose, and make inferences almost instantaneously.

Sounds great, right?

Well, imagine that this year, you visit your doctor for your annual check-up and blood work just like any other year. However, your doctor tells you that the results show that you have five years to live. You won’t know the exact day, but they do know that you’ll go in just a handful of years.

What would you do with that information? How would this change your life?

What would you want those five years to look like?

How do you allocate your time?

For those in our 20s and 30s, we know it’s a time of rapid change.

Careers take flight, relationships blossom, and personal growth becomes a guiding light through murky waters.

In most circumstances, investing time in understanding our finances and the stock market can be super valuable at this stage in our lives.

This could be an excellent way to improve your monetary choices and learn invaluable lessons about being an investor. Like what you can and cannot control. And, most importantly, the realization that this doesn’t have to be a side job to earn the returns you need to outpace inflation and have a prosperous future.

However, thinking back to our hypothetical situation, you have five years to live. How would you choose to devote your time?

Would you work less? Would you sleep in more? Would you Uber more? Would you give more to charity?

The average person spends the majority of their waking time working in some capacity.

Similarly, we spend an average of 7 hours a day in front of a screen. For most of us, perhaps more than half of that time is inevitable due to work. The remaining hours are more or less dedicated to entertainment through our phones, iPads, and laptops.

In a world where every notification demands our immediate attention, the art of being present is overshadowed by the need for a social media presence.

The paradox is that while screens have become inseparable from our lives, they also hold the potential to be insidious time thieves. How easy is it to binge eat/drink, scroll for hours, and finally look up to wonder where the time has gone.

Now more than ever, it seems there is so little time and so much to do. Again, knowing your fate, the question is, how much time do you really want to spend staring at a screen?

Now, let’s change the variables a bit and say you’re 70 years old.

You’ve retired from a successful career, and still, the fixation on your financial well-being takes center stage.

After so many years, you’re unsettled with the fact that you’re no longer bringing in income. You want to know if you’ll ever have to work again or if you have done enough? And if you refuse to go back to work, will you have to change your lifestyle to live within your new budget?

It’s a rational anxiety.

These once-abstract numbers on a screen now carry substantial weight, serving as a measure of both personal success and future security.

Yet, regardless of dollar amounts, I’ve seen insecurity take over more often than not.

But despite how you may feel, your financial advisor tells you you certainly have more than enough to live comfortably in this final chapter of your life.

Contemplating retirement and beyond requires you to really rethink priorities.

In what are supposed to be the golden years, a fixation on investment balances raises questions about one’s true source of fulfillment. Is pursuing financial growth still as significant when life’s clock ticks louder?

Will this scoreboard be what your family remembers the most about you?

The choice between surrendering hours in front of your investment performance screen and embracing the experiences you enjoy having or never got to have becomes pivotal.

The question is, how much time do you really want to spend staring at a trading screen?

Long-Term Perspective

As you digest this scenario, what comes to mind?

You quickly realize there’s plenty more to life if you look at it as if these next few years are irreplaceable.

Realizing that time is a finite resource can inspire you to shift your priorities toward what truly matters. Instagram and Twitter (X) suddenly seem so much less significant. If you want to do it and you can afford it, take that trip, buy that bag, start that side business, whatever it is for you.

Although inevitable for everyone, our actual lifespan is the one true mystery that still exists in this world.

I honestly don’t know what I would do. I would spend a long time wallowing in regret over everything I didn’t do or say, overthinking what I was going to wear, feeling anxious about the future, or getting so angry in traffic.

Then I suppose I would really get serious—what I would want to accomplish, who I’d like to meet. Who I’d like to really piss off before I go (…spam callers). But most importantly, who I’d like to be at the end of those five short years.

As we contemplate this scenario, the question of how we will choose to spend our time should become increasingly significant.

In reality, you don’t have to be as melodramatic as this post. But ask yourself: In five years, how much time would you like to dedicate to something that will likely not positively impact your life?

It’s not up to me to answer this question for you, but I will ask it again: How much time do you really want to spend staring at a screen?

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