“You have one year left to live.” Those words did not come from my doctor. I said them to myself. I have neither a terminal illness nor death wish, and with my luck there are several decades are high highs and the lowest of lows coming.
Yet I wanted to know: What if I only had one year left to live? What would I do? How would I make my choices count?
With only a year left to live, my vision was set.
Travel the world. Release a timeless book. Meet everyone you want to meet. Let everyone you love feel the love. Write as much as you can and talk as much as you can. Run yourself to the point of exhaustion and then some. You only have one year left.
You have the most time when you have the least time, and you have the least time when you have the most time.
Time is defined by our relation to it. The more you do, the more time you’ve had. The less you’ve done, the less time you’ve had.
Give one man one year and another man one month. Objectively speaking a year is a longer than a month.
If you spend a year doing nothing, that year will have seemed short. If you spent a month going hard to fulfill your dreams each day, the month will have felt long.
Although much has been written on time management, little has talked about how we should spend our time. Do we need more balance or less bullshit?
Most time management books start from the premise that you need to learn to balance how you spend your time. This is wrong. Chances are you need more balance because there’s too much bullshit in your life.
Rather than manage your time, ask how to spend it more efficiently.
Are you a time spender or a time investor? They say that time is money, which is wrong. Time is more than money, although as with money it’s useful to ask: Are you a spender or an investor? Are you a consumer or a producer?
Spenders fritter away time on entertainment. While leisure is necessary, time spent watching sports or television or movies is not cumulative. Ten years from now those shows you watches won’t leave you with anything to show for.
Our memories are our investment in time. My only regret is not spending my time more wisely. America’s greatest trial lawyer had an impossible criminal case. It was his first trial in decades. My friend Norm Pattis was going to watch the trial and had a hotel room. All I had to do was buy a plane ticket. I saved $250 to miss out on a lifelong memory.
Spend your time on memories. I can sit for hours remembering trips I’ve taken, fights I’ve been in, money I’ve made, lives I’ve impacted, and yes, the women. Spend your time on women, too, but not too much time.
Avoid black holes of time. Drama is a black hole and dramatic people will suck you in. My only ambivalence about life is a concern I set a bad example. My “drama” online has no emotional impact on me and is pure entertainment. It’s an enjoyable and effective part of my career. “I hope the guys don’t think any of this is serious,” I say to myself often.
Keep away from narcissists. There are few among us with an ego that will never be full. They require constant validation – which means endless time. Anyone too polished or charming should be avoided. Never trust a man who is perfectly put together – and any woman who obsesses over Instagram likes and Snapchats is sure to take far more than she gives.
Your time should be spent on habits and skills that are cumulative. My podcast attracts people to my writing and my writing attracts people to my podcast. Both attract people to my books. Marketing, public relations, and even design courses build my podcast, blogs, and books.
“Is this activity going to form a memory?” My god those hours spent on Internet message boards and social media proving to everyone how right I was! I have no idea what sort of bullshit I argued about online. Wasted time.
When in doubt about how to spend your time, ask yourself what sort of memory you’ll have years later. That may not lead you on the right path but it will keep you off the wrong one.
Meet people worth knowing. Not everyone worth knowing is nice. Even if someone is a son-of-a-bitch, you’ll likely learn a lesson or two from him. Charlie Munger is cranky, and he’s also the greatest living thinker in America. Nassim Taleb blocked me on Twitter for calling him out on a lie he told, but his insights into anti-fragile system are worth sharing. My own 85-year-old grandfather still scares me a little, but he gave me a business lesson I’ll never forget.
You often think cranky people are mean. In truth we value our time. I don’t have time for nonsense. I don’t have time for stupid questions. No, I’m not going to explain myself or give you sources. Go ask Google.
Sometimes the best way to spend your time is to waste it. One of the tragedies of growing older is we stop “kicking it.” I’ve “wasted” many nights goofing off with friends and family. During college friends will come over after the gym. We’d stay up late talking philosophy, women, and poetry.
Now we don’t have time to talk to anyone. We are too serious. Too busy.
Being too serious is the biggest waste of time of all.
Maximize every moment of your time.
Actively engage with the world and those around us. Don’t read a book. Imagine the book is a coach trying to bring the most out of you. Do not passively read. Actively engage with the subject matter.
Seek out the elite. Unless you were born into a rich family, this means you’ll need to read a lot. Books and long articles are where the best advice will be found. An article that won’t take several minutes to read probably isn’t worth reading.
Your physical health impacts how you engage with time. A sick or weak body can’t make the most out of each minute.
Engage the moment. Treat whatever you are doing as the most important activity in the world. There is no place else you’d rather be. There is no one else you’d rather see.
Like most people I often times “smart phone it in.” I am glib, inattentive, and dismissive. I don’t pay attention to what people say or make eye contact.
What if today is the last day you’ll look into your child’s eye or hear your best friend or father’s voice?
Today might be your last night or it might be the last night of someone close to you.
Hitting it hard for a year has taught me a lot about time.
What would you do if your choices mattered? How would you live in you had a few moments remaining in your life? How would you make each choice count?
Your choices matter.
You only have one year left to live.
Make each choice count.
To get the most out of your time, you must get the most out of yourself.