Just imagine that scientific advances meant you stopped ageing at twenty-five. Yes, I know you’re probably way past that already but just humour me for a minute. A twenty-five-year-old body sounds pretty good, right?
But there’s just one small catch. On your 25th birthday, your life clock literally starts ticking down, from that point you have one year left to live.
Now don’t be alarmed because in this world time is the new currency. You can earn more at work; you can buy more or sell if you want; you can use your time to buy services and products; you can even steal time if you were so inclined.
And just so you don’t forget how much time you have left, you get to carry a big watch around on your wrist. You get to see it count down the hours, minutes and seconds of your life.
Yes, I’m talking about the movie In Time. You know, the one starring Justin Timberlake. I know it’s been around a while but I only got around to watching it recently. I won’t comment on the quality of the movie, I’ll leave that to the critics but the premise of the movie was fascinating.
‘What if it was possible? What if we could see how much time we had left? What if we knew when we were going to die, would our lives be any different?’
Life is fragile
Just look at today and the events of the past year and a half. The Covid-19 pandemic has claimed nearly five million lives and counting. It’s one crisis after another, from hurricanes to genocide and everything in between. And sometimes it hits closer to home. My mind goes back a few years to the engineer who came in one morning to service the elevator and left work in a body bag, he’d fallen down the elevator shaft. I remember my old boss who got stretchered out on a Friday and never came back to work – he died in surgery that weekend.
Both those lives, gone in a flash. Totally unexpectedly.
It was yet another reminder of how fragile life is and how precious our time really is. Yet, we go through these experiences, we are moved by them and then the next day or week we’re back to business as usual. We waste time and stress ourselves about things that just don’t matter. We ignore and neglect the people that are important to us. We keep sidelining our dreams and goals for another day.
We don’t live our lives like people who understand just how precious our time is.
Watching that movie left me thinking a long time afterwards:
‘Am I living a life I truly desire? If I could see how much time I had left would I choose to live it any differently?’
Now I ask the same question of you.
If what was left of your life was on a clock counting down right before your eyes would you still choose to spend yesterday, last week or even last month the way you did?
If you knew how much time you had left, would you still want to be doing what you are right now?
If you knew when your time would come to an end would the choices you’re making still be the choices you’d make?
What if those you loved had their time on display? Would you treat them any differently?
Would what you do and how would your life be different if you knew how much time you had left?
Your life clock is invisible but it’s counting down
Here’s the thing, you don’t know how much time is left on your clock but you do know it’s going to run out sooner or later. I don’t mean to be morbid but you’re going to die, we all are.
And maybe you don’t want to think about death and I understand – I don’t either. It’s uncomfortable, it’s scary and it forces you to consider your mortality – it confronts you with what is probably a human being’s biggest fear – the fear of the unknown.
But thinking about death can have the opposite effect. It’s easy to just go through the motions, to just exist day after day and not really live each day. It’s very easy to just act unconsciously, oblivious to the life you’re creating almost as a side effect of your actions.
Thinking about death is scary but it can focus you on what’s really important. It can be that great motivator you need. It can force you to decide what really matters to you.
It can give you that energy, drive and determination to do the things that make you feel alive. It can compel you to stop wasting time on the things that don’t.
The secret to living is remembering that one day you’re going to die.
Why should you change anything?
Now you may be asking:
‘Why should I change? I’m ok. I’m comfortable. It isn’t broken so why should I fix it?’
You shouldn’t do anything. You don’t have to change if you don’t want to. Change is a choice.
But I put this question back to you.
Why shouldn’t you change? Whether you’re twenty-five or fifty-five, if you’re not satisfied with where you are and who you are right now, why shouldn’t you create a life you can love and share with others?
Why can’t you live a more meaningful life if you want to?
Why can’t you aspire and work to reach your full potential if you want to?
Why can’t you try to be better today than you were yesterday if that is what you want?
Why can’t you dream big dreams and have exciting visions for the future if those are your desires?
Take the Steve Jobs test.
Every day, look in the mirror and ask yourself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ If the answer is no for too many days in a row, maybe, just maybe it’s time to change something.
Remember the clock is ticking but it’s not too late for you
You’re one of the lucky ones. Think about those people whose clocks just stopped suddenly, unexpectedly. You have something they don’t. You still have a chance to live courageously and wholeheartedly.
Do you feel an increased sense of urgency? I know I do. Is the possibility of what your life could be calling out to you? I hope so.
Your time is running out so what are you going to do now?
The choice is up to you.