How Many Summers Do You Have Left?

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A few days ago, an older colleague and I were discussing our plans for the rest of the summer. When he began to tell me what his plans were, he casually mentioned something that has really stuck with me. He said, “I don’t have too many summers left, so…”

We both laughed good-naturedly at the time, but even after the conversation ended, I couldn’t get that little thought out of my head. I mean, really, I began to wonder, how many more summers do I have left? I’m turning 40 this year. It’s a big year. Considering the average male’s life expectancy in the US is 78.74 years, that means I have about 38-40 summers left, statistically speaking.

The thought was a little unsettling. But there are two ways to look at the fleeting nature of time. Sure, I could say that I’m halfway through all the summers I’ll ever have. But this also means that I have half a lifetime of summers yet to experience, and I need to make the most of them.

Do I want to spend another summer missing holidays with the family and working weekends? Or do I want to make each one count by traveling and spending time with my family? How many summers will I have before my kids are all grown up and off into the world?

I did a little more thinking, and determined that there are a few major ways to make the most of the time I have. And of course, I decided to jot it down and share it with the world. I’d love to know if you feel the same.

First, I have to be very intentional with my time. If there’s something I’ve been longing to do, and it makes sense in the context of my current life and family, then I should make time for it. If doing something doesn’t add value to my life in some way, I shouldn’t waste any more of my most precious resource on it.

Second, I realized that I need to take better care of my health. In order to see more summers, I need to focus on this…now. Working long overnight shifts can’t be good for the body. I’ve got to eat better, I’ve got to exercise more, and find more ways to de-stress. Maybe I need to meditate more (like The Happy Philosopher).

Third, I should work less… now. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been slowly reducing my at-work time in order to achieve the right work-life balance. I’ve already dropped my clinical time 10-15% from last year and thought I was going at a good pace, but I’m now determined that I need to accelerate my partial retirement.

Lastly, I need to make the most of the rest of this summer. I thought of the things I wanted to do this summer and decided I’m going to make that a priority and make it happen, even if I do have to give up some work and income. After all, at the end of the summer, will I be happier with a little more cash, or because I made memories that will last a lifetime?

The bottom line is that none of us have a lot of time. It’s a cliché, but tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. There has to be a good country song about this out there.

So make time for things you’ve dreamed of, live a little more in the moment, and don’t get so caught up in making money for your future that you miss what’s happening now. There’s a balance somewhere there, and if you don’t take the time to analyze where you’re at, you might be way off.

How are you making sure that you’re making the most out of the summers you have left?

 

16 COMMENTS

  1. This sounds silly, but it is our son’s 2nd birthday today and reading this article, all I could think is “16 more summers before he graduates high school and is off to (fill in the blank)”. Wow, talk about a dose of reality to wake me up this morning! 😉

    We recently moved to a beautiful area in northern Michigan from California and we have been soaking up summer like our life depends on it! I think the fact that summer is actually a season here (vs. the norm in CA) has motivated us to get out and take advantage of the sunshine, the beaches and the warm evenings. I can honestly say we are doing pretty will with our summer enjoyment… taking time to pursue local adventures both on weekends and during the weeknights.

    Thank you for the reminder to make the most of this beautiful season!

    • Sounds like you know what’s important to you. That’s the whole theme of your blog if I’m not mistaken, make the most of your own adventure. More than anything this was a post to remind myself to make the most of my time. Need this every once in a while.

  2. Nice post. I also agree that it’s important to stop every once in a while and actually look at how you are living your life and if this is something that you will be happy about later on. Especially as physicians, we get caught up in caring for others so much and trying to do the best professionally that we can forget the values most dear to us.

  3. Work less now. Yup! Two months and a week until I slow down. That doesn’t do much for this summer, but this winter, we’ll spend more time in places where it’s summery.

    Also, I’ve got good news. Since you’ve already made it to 39, you’ve added over 3 summers to your life expectancy by not dying young. Your life expectancy is now 82, and you can calculate yours as SSA.gov
    https://www.ssa.gov/OACT/population/longevity.html

    Cheers!
    -PoF

    • Two months and a week? Not that you’re counting… haha. I guess it makes sense that the SSA would provide this calculator. Wow, I feel like you just added 3-4 summers to my life. Time to celebrate!

  4. Great post! Every day feels like summer here in San Diego, so I try to make the most of every single day 🙂

    I have a great work-life balance that allows me to do this, and I feel very fortunate. I’m only working a little over 40 hours a week, maintain a semi-luxurious lifestyle, be able to see my family and friends any given weekend, and still be able to save more than 50% of my income.

    I’m glad you’re committed to adopting a healthier lifestyle. That will not only add to your years (and summers) of life in terms of quantity, but also quality. Who wants to live till 82, but ridden with hearth disease and/or cancer? Definitely not me. Like Happy Philosopher, I’m a big proponent of meditation. I’m also a huge advocate of whole foods, plant-based diets. Growing evidence is more and more convincing that it is the healthiest way to go. When done right, a whole foods, plant-based diet is nutritious, healthy, anti-inflammatory, anti-chronic disease, anti-cancer, telomere-preserving (and therefore anti-aging), etc. It’s incredibly inexpensive too. My wife and I have brought our grocery bill down to $150 a month; and that’s pretty much all of our food expenses because we don’t eat out (expensive, and unhealthy). On top of that, we get about 7-8 hours of sleep and exercise roughly 30-45 minutes a day.

    🙂

    • Sounds like you’re super intentional with your time and money. I could learn a lot from you! I always had the impression that a plant-based diet is expensive – $150? I may get more info from you. Also, jealous of your sleep-time haha…

      • Plant-based diets can be expensive, but they don’t have to be. There are a few things I have to disclose to explain why we are able to keep our grocery budget so low. First of all, we do intermittent fasting whereby we are restricting our eating to an 8 hour window (I usually eat from 11 am to 7 pm only). Thus we don’t eat breakfast. Some of the health benefits of intermittent fasting include decreased insulin resistance, increased intrinsic growth hormone, giving your gut a rest, and more rapid fat loss; a lot of body builders do it. We also don’t buy lunch because it is catered to us every day; so while it does come out of our pay check some how, I don’t count it as an out-of-pocket expense. So the only meals that my wife and I actually “pay for” are dinners. We eat homemade dinners and we keep it pretty simple with a few main staples… rice, black beans, garbanzo beans, sweet potatoes, and golden potatoes. These staples are pretty cheap and usually bought in bulk at the local organic market. To supplement the staples we’ll have random fresh fruits or vegetables that we try to buy at farmer’s markets.

        As for sleep… we made a commitment to get to bed as early as we can. We know that once we have kids, getting a good amount of quality of sleep will be a challenge. 😉

        We recently got into meditation. I found that there are some useful apps to get you started. We used “Headspace”, but there are plenty of other good ones too.

  5. I’ve been counting my expected life years down since intern year using the same social security link PoF provided. Incidentally, it’s the same link I use when deciding whether or not to offer radiation to many of my patients as a radiation oncologist. I know I think too much about mortality for my age based on discussion with my peers and my wife, but how many jobs deal with death multiple times a week? My sister in an architect, I don’t think that thought has ever crossed her mind at work about a client, unless she was designing a mausoleum.
    I trying to find the right balance between acknowledging mortality and being consumed by it. Like The Happy Philosopher, I have found meditation to be effective . I just started using Headspace app, I think as recommended by another physician blogger posting on burnout. Practicing mindfulness keeps me living in the moment and not 45 years down the road. It’s not always easy to live in the moment as a planner and especially as a planner of possible early retirement, but zeal for that possible early retirement must be tempered or the present will just zoom. I generally avoid bromides but as they say, gotta enjoy the journey.
    Great post.

    • Must be tough dealing with those situations day in and day out. So I’m sure it’s natural in your line of work to think like you do. Sounds like you’ve taken it in a good direction – cherishing the moments and trying to live “a good life.” I really feel I have to integrate meditation more into my daily routine…

      • For sure the meditation has helped. One of many things Med schools may need to add, including personal finance. A short meditation course would provide training to deal with stressful situations.

  6. I think I may be a bit of an odd-ball here, but think about this quite often. Guess when you’ve had people close to you who have passed – it brings the reality of it all (that this life is fleeting) very close to home.

    Value that which is most valuable – then live your life around it. At least that’s what I try to do, but this is difficult living in the West where I think a lot of our priorities can get wonky.

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