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Life is Short; Make Good Choices

by Beth on October 13th, 2021

Your time on earth is limited. You might not be here tomorrow. If you’re lucky enough to live to 90, you’ll have almost 4,700 weeks. That’s where Oliver Burkeman got the title for his new book, Four Thousand Weeks. This finitude means you can’t get everything done. You must make tough choices about how to spend your limited time.

Embracing this truth can set you free. It can empower you to accomplish more of what matters to have a more joyful, fulfilled life. Accepting that you don’t have time for everything means you have to decide what to focus on and what to neglect. It means learning to tolerate the discomfort of knowing that balls will be dropped.

Making these choices is hard. But being in a position to make such choices is pretty amazing. The fact that you are alive is a miracle! Contemplating the certainty of death helps you realize that all you have for sure is the present moment. Each day you have is a blessing. You don’t have to make choices; you get to make them.

So how do you decide? If something really matters to you, do some of it today. Don’t wait until you have more time. Don’t worry if you are settling or if you won’t do a good enough job. Making any choice at all is settling and nothing you do will be perfect.

Here are some more suggestions for how to spend you limited time:

  • Don’t use busyness to distract you from the reality of your short life.
  • Get comfortable with having problems. Life is but a series of problems.
  • Don’t use the present solely as a path to a better future. Use some of your time to do things for their own sake. Find pleasure in a good hobby.
  • Planning doesn’t eliminate uncertainty; it just pushes it further into the future. Taking steps to reduce the chance that bad things will happen is smart. But remember that a plan is your present-moment statement of intent. It does not ensure that things will go your way.
  • Don’t overvalue your existence. It’s highly unlikely that you will put a dent in the universe. Spend your time doing things that give you a sense of meaning.
  • Life will always feel uncertain and out of control. Everyone is winging it! So let go of your impossible standards and get to work doing what you can to help.

Burkeman covers a lot of ideas in this book. My main take-away is that I should be grateful for my limited time here, and I should spend each day doing things that matter to me. I choose to exercise, make healthy meals for my family, tend my garden, write blog posts, and give talks about well-being. What about you?

  1. Suzy Howell permalink

    I just sent this to my sister who lost her husband last September and is having difficulty focusing on the here and now. My hope is that it will help ground her in her new circumstances.

  2. Beth permalink

    Hi Suzy, thanks for sharing with your sister. I hope it helps!

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