Ask Yourself: ‘How Long Have I Got?’

Dr. Chris E. Stout
May 28, 2016 · 4 min read
Image for post
Image for post

Originally published at: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/i-were-22-ask-yourself-how-long-have-got-dr-chris-stout?trk=mp-reader-card

One of the interesting side effects of being young is an implicit feeling of immortality. It is not really something that is foremost in most 22-year-olds’ minds.

But this otherwise common phenomenon for most others seemed absent in me. In fact, quite to the contrary, I was concerned that I did not have enough time to do all that needed doing. In fact, at age 14 after reading about John Goddard’s Life List in Life Magazine, I was doomed. Goddard was 15 when he created his list in the 1930s. So I felt somewhat of a kinship bridging the years to develop a contemporary version of my own Life List.

I dreamed of various adventures and places to see, things to do, exotic and domestic, all over the world — it was a compendium of excitement, and also acted as a terrific motivator. By age 22 I had actually placed some checkmarks by a few items, but at the same time, The List had grown. The more I learned about, the more I wanted to do and experience. My List has now turned out to be an ever-evolving blueprint of my life: cataloging cool things that have been accomplished and mapping out what comes next.

Remaining Days

Most are aware of the beautiful and moving “Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch on Achieving Your Childhood Dreams and more recently Stanford neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi, MD, wrote a widely read New York Times op-ed on dealing with one’s own as well as others’ mortality.

When I think of Randy and Paul in the context of finite days, I get all the more impatient.

What If You (Kinda) Know When…?

Keven notes that Stewart Brand has…

…been arranging his life in blocks of 5 years. Five years is what he says any project worth doing will take. From moment of inception to the last good-riddance, a book, a campaign, a new job, a start-up will take 5 years to play through. So, he asks himself, how many 5 years do I have left? He can count them on one hand even if he is lucky. So this clarifies his choices. If he has less than 5 big things he can do, what will they be?

Of course you can get hit by a bus tomorrow, or some medical breakthrough could add 5,000 more days, but the point that Kevin makes is that taking this approach helps him prioritize what is really important and what really needs to get done. And that I like.

A lot.

Accidents Happen, and That’s a Good Thing

Your Turn


If you’d like to learn more or connect, please do at http://DrChrisStout.com. You can follow me on LinkedIn, or find my Tweets as well.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch

Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore

Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store