May 022007
 

According to this Life Expectancy calculator, I will live to be about 80 (actually 79.97, but I don’t think a few days matters that much). This is based on acturial data, and I fully expect to live longer than just 80.

You might want to fill out that form and see waht it says. Remember that that calculator is not totally correct and is based on averages and estimates, and probably on the conservative side. If you don’t want to, you can maybe use these figures:

Life expectancy at birth in Canada for women is about 84 years, for males its about 77.

Just go to google, type in your country name, then life expectancy and then your sex. So, for me it’d be "Canada life expectancy male". And I know that it says life expectancy at birth, but I think the number will be very close to whatever ti says, as long as you’re below, say 30-40. But I dunno. Let’s just take that as a guess for now.

Having a single number that I can point to as saying, that’s how long I’ll live is both scary and empowering. It’s scary to put a number on my life. That I will die when I am 80. That means I’ll die in 2067-2068. Wow.

But it is also empowering, because it allows me to plan for a certain amount of time. If you used the calculator above, you found things like putting on your seat belt and smoking and drinking have to do with how long you live. Just for fun, I put down stuff like I smoke a lot and drink a lot and eat a lot of fat and stuff and found that my lifespan cut down to about 75 years. A five year difference. That may not sound like much in the context of 80 years, but hell, I want those 5 years. And this doesn’t factor in things like quality of life. If I’m bed-ridden for twenty years, then I don’t want those extra years.

The reason why this is empowering is that it forces you to look at your life and ask yourself, "Are the habits I have now conducive to a long life and good quality of life?" And then if they aren’t, then you can change them. If you smoke two packs a day, you could cut down on that or quit altogether. Or your financial habits. If you’re young and not saving any money, then you might reconsider doing that and spend some time reading a good book or two on personal finance (The Automatic Millionaire, Rich Dad, Poor Dad, The Wealthy Barber come to mind). You don’t want to end up poor in retirement. Hell, you’d like to be rich all through your life.

For me the challenge is not "bad habits" like drinking or smoking per se, it’s building in good habits, like regular excersize, diet and sleeping patterns. And this will probably be the challenge for most other people.

Still, let’s take 80 for me as a guess. I just turned 20. That means I’m about a quarter way through my life. And that I can expect to live for another 60 years. On one level that’s amazing, that I’ll have that much time, on another its scary that I’ll have that much time. And it seems a little too short, too, and that’s kinda anxiety-inducing, too.

Now, I know that some people who’re reading this might be depressed by the thought of living so long. It has to do with how you view life. If you view life as something that you control and not something that happens TO you, then its easier to think about living for a long time, and seeing it as exciting and interesting. And it gives you a lot of time to improve and grow and have fun.

The main benefit for thinking about your life expectancy for me is for planning. Assuming that I’m gonna live for another 60 years and every moment is precious, I want to ask myself exactly what I should be doing. Do I really want to do something I don’t love? It seems like a foolish bargain. That said, I also recognize that my interests and passions will change. Maybe when I’m 40, I really get into fishing. Who knows? And that’s part of the fun, too, the uncertainty. But there are some things I want to be certain about. One of them is that I wnat to be doing what I love and I am starting to seriously walk this path. I also want to be financially well-off. I don’t want to be stupid rich, I don’t need it, but I would like to have enough money to really enjoy life. I also want ot have time freedom, and lots of it. I can get that in retirement, or I can create a lifestyle which requires me to work very little and the work I do, I do enjoy.

Don’t feel the urge to plan every detail of your life, because a lot of that will change. Someone once said something like, "Plans are useless but planning is one of the most useful thing you can do." It gets your head around it.

I’ve heard that as you get older, your time horizon gets longer. And that as you get older, your perception of time speeds up. So, one year when you’re 40, a year passes quicker than when you’re 14. The thing I remember most from the TV program I saw that on was that the half-way point in terms of your perception of time and your major experiences was in your early-to-mid twenties. That’s a little freaky, that half of hte most importnat experiences you’ll have will happen in your twenties. Here’s a link about it.

Over that sort of time period, compound interest has a HUGE effect. If you’re not familiar with compound interest already, I recommend you read this:

In the following table, Investor A starts investing 2000 dollars at the
age of 26 and doesn’t let up until retirement at 65. Investor B only
invests a total of 14,000 but starts seven years earlier in life and
for a shorter period of time. The investment compounds at 10% a year
and you can see the effects.

Chart

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