When I was in my mid 30’s, I went with a friend, as you do, to an evening talk by a management theorist (Charles Handy, if you’re curious, a most intriguing writer).
On the way there, my friend casually mentioned that the average life expectancy for people our age was 125-150. This is not including major medical breakthroughs. More on this later.
As my friend continued talking, It hit me – I was going to be alive for another hundred years – not, as I’d previously thought, maybe 30. This is barring accidents, disasters and murder, obviously.
That week, I happened to have been reading an article about global level achievers – people who could free dive the deepest in the world, lift the most weight, run the farthest, and so on. One of these super athletes said “If you eat, sleep, and breathe one thing for five years? You’ll be among the best on the planet.”
This then led to a couple of obvious conclusions:
- A hundred years meant I could – if I was suitably obsessive – become a global level expert in twenty different subjects. Or raise five consecutive kids. I had twenty serious chunks of time left in my life to do with as I pleased.
- I really needed to sort out my (typical, same as anyone else) emotional junk. I could handle thirty years of being vaguely miserable, but another hundred was way too much.
Around that time I’d also noticed a couple of long term patterns in my life:
- My net worth kept see sawing; it’d go up, then down, up even higher, then down again.
- Whenever I’ve started companies, they’ve done brilliant work technically, but never made much money.
What makes the second point particularly curious is that I can waltz into someone else’s business and make them stacks of cash no problem at all. I’ve made two other guys millionaires (and would have added a third to the list if he’d used my work. Oh well, his choice). When I make investments myself (not businesses, note, investments) I typically make out like a bandit. 30% in a month or two? Often. 30k in a day? Easy. There’s just something about when it’s labelled a business that hasn’t tweaked for me. Yet.
Given that I’ve always been entrepreneurial, I know I’ll always be starting some sort of venture or other. I started my first business before I was 10, selling toys to my siblings, ha ha, oh boy. But, I don’t want to be 95, working on a startup and struggling for income or broke. It was and is damn important to get these two issues completely sorted.
LONGEVITY AND THE ART OF CALCULATING LIFE EXPECTANCY
Now, the longevity thing is interesting. It’s a tricky one to estimate. The reason being – how do actuaries figure out how long a 30 year old will live? Well, they start with the age that people are dying – currently roughly 80ish – then go back 50 years to see how many of the 30 year olds back then lived to 80, how many died earlier, and so on. It’s pretty basic math.
The trouble with this is, you can only do this once people have actually died – otherwise, uhh, how long do you know they’ll live for? Which means the current estimates of 80 year lifespans are from people born in roughly 1930. These are people who grew up with appalling pre and post natal care, lead based paint on their toys, asbestos in their houses, drove horrifically dangerous cars, plus lived through WWII, the Korean and Vietnam wars etc. Dozens of life shortening factors, none of which existed if you were born 50 years later.
On top of that there’s been massive improvements in healthcare, fitness, nutritional understanding and general lifestyle and safety.
Oh, and of course the baby boomers are retiring – which means billions (literally) being poured into both quality of life improvements AND longevity. These people have watched their parents drooling on themselves in nursing homes and thought “Hell NO!” – plus, unlike the previous generations, they have the cash to back it up. The medical benefits of which will, inevitably, trickle down to everybody else.
There are researchers claiming that the first thousand year old has already been born. Others say if we can survive 30 years, medical technology will have advanced enough to keep us alive another 30. By the end of that, med tech will have advanced enough to keep us alive another 30 years, and so on. This is what’s known as “longevity escape velocity“.
Obviously, all these things are highly debatable, and scientists are continuing to argue.
However, it does make estimating life expectancy all very tricky. It sure as hell isn’t 80 though. Not any more.
Regardless, it’s essentially a moot point. If I’d been expecting to die at 60-70, and suddenly discovered I had an additional 20-30 years of life (let alone several hundred), it’s still a huge number of extra years – time that’s worth planning for and using wisely.
THE CHANGES I MADE
As a direct result of the above discoveries, I radically shifted the direction of my life, including:
- Moving from New Zealand to Australia to train Aikido with my sensei. In the particular style we trained, he was the highest ranked teacher outside of Japan, and had moved over a few months earlier. I figured, regardless of what it meant for my working career, training with him was a lifetime opportunity I didn’t want to miss. I ended up training with him in Australia for five years.
- Using EFT (Reiki, releasing, and many other tools) exhaustively on every single part of my life, past, present and future. This massively accelerated my personal and spiritual growth. It also largely removed depression and anger from my life. I do still get upset or slightly down, on rare occasion, but it’s incredibly quick to clear. Also gone are a myriad of other relatively minor emotional, mental and physical issues. I’ve been thorough.
- Started healing in a very focused manner on career and money related issues. Hilariously, this also accelerated, for a year or two, how quickly my money disappeared, with the delightful result of basically screwing my financial life over completely. Ha ha ha, oops *facepalm*
- Made clearing these issues the number one priority in my life, bar none (which has had some amusing side effects on my lifestyle).
- Decided to make unconditional love, of everyone and everything, my highest purpose and primary goal in life
- Removed several majorly destructive people from my life (including, at the time, my boss)
As difficult as it’s been (and, on occasion – eg when explaining to prospective dates why I’m currently 43 and living at home with my folks – still is), I continue to believe I’m doing the right thing. That I have been doing the right thing.
For one thing, it’s resulted in this entire blog. My ability to execute at work is astronomically higher too – without any specific conscious effort on my part. Plus there’s been many other unexpected benefits.
A key question to pull this all into focus – would you be ok with struggling, emotionally and financially for five years, if it meant you could be effortlessly abundant and peaceful for the next hundred? For me that’s been a very easy question to answer, despite any difficulties.
On top of that, I STILL see that investing the time now to get myself on the right track will save me decades of sweat, toil and misery over the rest of my life. Even if, heaven forbid I get hit by a bus tomorrow, I’m a vastly more pleasant, more peaceful, more loving person to be around than I was a decade ago.
As ambitious as my spiritual/healing goals are (essentially – loving peace, aka happiness with no sorrow, aka equanimity), every step in that direction has been improving my life. It’s also been making things MUCH easier for everyone around me. Every step has proven to be a step worth taking, no matter how long this journey ends up being.
As an interesting side note, what all this healing is really doing is unwinding karma (so if there is such a thing as reincarnation, that’ll be handy).
Critically though, it means whatever I decide to do for the next 19 chunks of my life, I’ll be flying higher, faster, further and with massively less effort.
The real question is – where to now?