Live Like You Were Dying

So many of us have imagined what we would do with our lives if we had just one year to live. Most of these fantasies involve quitting a job, spending time with loved ones, and traveling around the world.

What’s keeping you from doing this right now? Debt? Responsibilities? Don’t know? Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

I sat down recently and concretely considered what I would do if I knew I had only one year to live. I’d spend it at home, playing with my son, and writing that novel that’s burned inside of me for years. I’d write long letters to everyone I ever loved, telling them what they’ve meant to me. I’d take my wife on long walks on cool evenings and kiss her under the starlight.

So, what’s keeping me from doing this? I want to own a house for my family to live in. I want to be able to have food on the table and to keep that house when I own it. Everything else? Well, a nice sweater is just a balm, isn’t it? Buying a new one keeps me from this dream.

So I made an agreement with myself. In fifteen years, I will spend a year living like I was dying. This means by then I will have paid off my house, built up at least two years of living expenses, and own every vehicle we have.

The only rules I have in place are that I will not give up my evenings for my son, and I’ll continue to write, because it is a passion that fuels much of my life.

I invite you to sit down and consider what you would do if you only had a year to live. Would you stay at home with your children? Would you travel around the world? Would you sit out on your front porch and read John Updike novels? Would you go fishing down at the lake every morning and eat fresh fish for dinner every evening?

Then, figure what it would actually cost for you to do this. Assume you’ve paid off everything, but that you’ll need a healthy backup for repairs and insurance. How much would your monthly budget be?

Now you have a goal. What can you do to reach this goal? If you saved 20% of your income each year in an investment with a 10% return, how long would it take for you to reach the point where that investment’s 10% return would produce enough money for you to live like you were dying?

For me, it was fifteen years. In fifteen years, I’ll be forty three years old, and I can live like I was dying for the rest of my life. I might not have that Lexus now, but I’ll have twenty two years at the prime of my life to spend with my children and grandchildren, to write that novel that’s always been inside of me, and to sit on my front porch and watch the sun rise. Feel free to work until you’re sixty five; I’d rather live like I was dying.

Yes, apologies to Tim McGraw for the title of this post.

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