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What remains

Visualisations can be extremely powerful. I vividly remember reading this Wait But Why post, appreciating how it cut through the noise and compelled me to evaluate priorities. When they revisited the topic a few weeks back it struck a cord, generating a lot of discussion among my network. As a result I decided to make my own version of the visual, focusing only on the time I might have left (acknowledging that each of the moments is a gift and certainly in no way guaranteed). The resulting graphic is above and highlighted stars are explained below.

  • 2028: The year I’ll be 48, the same age my father was when he passed away
  • 2038: The year my mother turns 90
  • 2040: Providing I reach my 90th year, I will still have 1/3 of my life to look forward to
  • 2058, 2061, 2066: My age will be the same as the average life expectancy of a US, UK and HK female (respectively)
  • 2070: My 90th year

Seeing the quantity of years laid out in this manner can be startling. There are an infinite number of estimates you could generate using this information, some more sobering than others. Providing we continue at our current rate, I’ll likely get to see my mother about 65 more times (Martha Stewart sets her life expectancy at 101, much to her frustration :p). Surprisingly, my brother and I may only cross paths 30 more times based on our frequency in recent years. While I’m fairly pro-active about visiting friends in different cities, best case I’ll probably only see each of them 25 more times (providing we both reach our 90s and are well enough to travel).  If I take my post-university patterns into account, I may live in 7 more cities, hold 12 more roles and meet 25 more close friends.

Equally compelling is the same visual using months as the metric. So far I have lived 432 months and I might have about 648 more to go. According to Time it Takes to…, I can listen to Dark Side of the Moon 1,019 times in one of those months. More likely, I’ll sleep 30% of that time. Based on current frequencies, I may participate in 160 more trail running events, have 270 more blissful moments and visit 425 more wonderful places.


Time is our most precious, finite resource. This is further complicated by the fact that we don’t know how much time we’ll have. Barring technological singularity and acknowledging the theories of relativity, the majority of us experience time passing in similar ways. Of course, quantity is only one way to measure these experiences and opportunities. Like many other aspects of life, people have a tendency to mistake quantity for quality. Thankfully, they’re not mutually exclusive. While I am not advocating a YOLO lifestyle, this article on regrets and Nietzsche quote sum it up nicely:

“My formula for greatness in a human being is amor fati: that one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backward, not in all eternity. Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it—all idealism is mendaciousness in the face of what is necessary—but love it.”

This wasn’t intended to be a post about New Years resolutions. However, if you are looking for something to guide your reflections, this Holstee Reflection Worksheet and Book of Life Self Knowledge Quiz may prove helpful. You could also use Wait But Why’s Life Calendar, a Passion Planner, or one of these adorable Wap-oh Life Calendars to help make the most of what remains.

Best wishes for an intentional 2016!

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