The Holiday Paradox – time flies as we get older

I love to spend a good couple of weeks away on holiday, don’t you? I really hope that next year, we’ll be able to do so again. But I’ve noticed something weird happens on a two-week holiday. Annoyingly weird.

Me and the family arrive at our destination, say on a Saturday, and we might take a couple of days to settle in. We explore the surroundings, maybe do some trips, get used to the local area and the weather.

We’re well into the swing of it by Tuesday or Wednesday, talking about how great it is and we’re only halfway through the first week. By the following Saturday, we’ve done loads of new things, work is a distant memory and we still have a whole week left – great!

Then, all of a sudden, the suitcase is getting packed and we’re heading back home. What happened to the second week?

Have you experienced the same weird phenomenon? If you have, you’re not alone. It’s the “Holiday Paradox” and it helps to explain why time seems to speed up as we get older. As we become familiar with our lifestyle and surroundings, we develop routine and the days, weeks, months and years pass by.

The question is – are you in the first or the second ‘week’ of life?

How long do we have left?

With everything that’s happening in the world right now, chances are you’ll have missed a bit of rather mundane news this week – the Office of National Statistics has published its annual tables on national life expectancy. It takes a bit of effort to understand the data, but this is where you can discover the average number of years someone your age can expect to live, based upon gender and country of residence.

For example, if you are aged 65 now and live in the UK, you can expect to live to around 83 if you’re male and 86 if you’re female.

Measure your life in months, not years

I’m going to ask you to try a little exercise here:

  1. Calculate how many months you can reasonably expect to live
  2. Then calculate how many months you have lived already.

On my next birthday, I can expect to live another 31.75 years. This sounds ok at first – another three decades ahead of me sounds fine.

But when I convert this to months, it’s 381. And at my next birthday, I will have already lived for 576 months. That doesn’t sound quite so appealing.

It makes you think, doesn’t it? All the indications are that I’m well into my’“2nd week’ of life, but there’s still an awful lot of stuff I’d like to do.

Create your bucket list

It’s important to remember that life is not a rehearsal and if you’ve not done so already, it’s time to dream big and think about what you’d like to experience whilst on this planet.

If you sometimes struggle for inspiration, there are plenty of websites and apps to give you ideas. The website “Bucket List Ideas” might be a good start.

Once you have decided on some inspiring goals, write them down or better still, draw or print a picture of them. You can also use apps to help keep you motivated  – just search “bucket list” in your mobile device’s app store and loads of options will come up, such as ‘soon’ and ‘squirrel’.

Plan your life and finances

If you complete the tasks above, you’re on the way to creating a life plan. It’s about dreaming of what you’d really like to achieve for you, your loved ones or causes that you care about – and then plot those ideas onto a timeline that’s reasonable based on your age now.

Often, our life goals will have financial implications, which could mean saving up money to give, do or buy something. Or maybe you need to find ways to free up time – such as reducing working hours or retiring a bit earlier.

This is where financial life planning comes in. It matches up what you want to do with your life and overlays the money side of things.

Financial planners and coaches can help with this. The use of lifetime cashflow modelling software can create a visual representation of how well your finances will empower you to live the life you really want.

Create the right balance

Creating financial options in life is a key factor to financial wellbeing, and it’s a question of striking the balance between enjoying life now and planning for your future enjoyment.

A combination of coaching and financial life planning can help achieve this balance and bring some clarity to how and when you might start ticking off that bucket list.

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