You Have About 20 Good Years Left

“You have about 20 good years left”

This is what a good friend of mine said to me about 3 or 4 years ago when I was about 41 or 42. This statement sticks with me because it is so true, and often, the truth hurts.

Many people, like me, put up with a situation they are not happy with just because it is difficult to make major changes and also the fear of what those changes might bring. They figure it is better to just suck it up and continue on their path in the hopes that things will get better.  People that are 40 or so think they have another 40 or 50 years to make those changes or follow those passions.  They think they will take care of all the pent up desires or projects after they retire and have the time to do it. The sad reality is that those things you want to do now either will not be possible when you are 60 or older. Even if you can still do them to a certain extent, it won’t give you nearly the satisfaction that you will get if you do them now.  So if you are around 40, you really only have 20 years to change, accomplish, or experience what you want. Don’t wake up when you are 60 and still be in an unhappy situation or have a long bucket list of things you wanted to do that now you don’t have the desire or energy to do.

Hey, I’m 60, are you saying my life is over?

I don’t want to offend anybody close to or over 60, and I’m sure some of those people will take exception to what I’m saying. They might argue that they can still do the things they did when they were 40 or even 30. Also, the commercials on TV tell you that all you need to do is drink their chocolate flavored supplement drink and you will be playing basketball with your grandkids, hiking that mountain trail, riding through the desert in a 1950’s convertible top down with your buddy of the same vintage, or just throwing a football through a tire hanging from a rope on a tree (whatever the hell that’s supposed to mean). Yes, you can probably still do some of those things above 60, but the effort it takes may be more than the enjoyment you get from it. I don’t plan on giving up on life when I’m 60, but I expect that I will slow down and do things that are less taxing on my body and my energy.


Here are some things you can’t put off until after you retire:

Spending more time with your kids and family instead of spending more time at work. Your kids will never be the same age again, but there will always be more hours to work.

Traveling to see the world as it is today. Also, experiencing travel through younger eyes will be totally different than doing it when you are older.

Moving or changing jobs. If you don’t like where you are or where you work, 20 years from now it will be that much worse and you will regret not doing something about it.

Doing anything physically demanding like hiking, swimming, running, cycling or even competing in races. If you don’t do it now, it is even harder and less likely you will do it later.

Start a project, renovate a house, start a business. These all get harder to do, the older you get.

Getting into a new relationship or getting out of one where you are not happy. You only get one life, don’t wake up at 60 and realize you are not happy in your relationship. If you are not happy, your partner is probably not happy either.

This sounds like one of those “quit your job and sail into the sunset” kinds of articles. What about accomplishing something or leaving my mark on society?

Technology will advance and progress will be made in society with or without you. The desire to make the world a better place or have the world remember your name is really a rich person problem. Most people in the world are worried about keeping a roof over their head, feeding their families and not getting killed in a war.  People in some of the richer countries have the opportunity or luxury of even being able to consider retiring, let alone retiring early. The truth is most people’s jobs aren’t that important. Increasing your company’s toothpaste sales by 5% or getting an award for “Best New Stapler Design” is not really important in the grand scheme of things. Even if you think you might be the next Thomas Edison or Henry Ford, last time I checked, they are still dead.

I have about 15 good years left, how many do you have and what are you going to do with them?