The biggest numerical calculation we encounter is that we will live on average for 4000 weeks or until 80 years old.
When you start slicing out 52 weeks at a time from this equation, to represent a year, things get real.
Four-Thousand Weeks is a book written by Oliver Burkeman that is a blueprint to help us spend our time better. A quote from Zach Pogrob inspired the title of this article. I love how he strips away our identity and calls us what we are: hyper-conscious primates.
Our primate brains make us acutely aware of everything, especially stuff that doesn’t matter (which led to the distraction economy).
Mix that with our 4000-week expiry date and you have a wake-up call to help you stop wasting your life.
Do one big ass thing per day
Productivity wastes our lives.
There are many things you can achieve each day. You can walk around with a huge to-do list hanging out of ya back pocket, or you can try another way.
I no longer serve my to-do list. What’s easier is to complete one big thing a day. I look at the priorities and choose one. If I get more than one done, great. If not, it doesn’t matter.
One priority is progress. Many priorities are a burden.
With only 4000 weeks to live, the big priorities will matter the most in the end.
Release the burden of unmade decisions
Many of us live with the weight of the world on our shoulders. Eventually our shoulders get weak from all the burdens we carry.
The heaviest thing on our shoulders is unmade decisions.
A friend named Benjamin faced the ultimate decision. In 2020 he became a self-help junkie. He did all the big boy things like read the Jim Rohn classics. He began to train at the gym.
The guy became crazy.
He went to the gym as if he was Arnold Schwarzenegger prepping for the Terminator movie. Inconsistency led him to occasionally miss days. Whenever a day was missed, he’d train twice as hard the next time.
One day in 2020 his body couldn’t take it anymore.
Pain spread down his left arm. It felt like the end. A trip to the hospital revealed his left lung had collapsed
The doctor gave him two choices:
- Slice his chest open, take a peek, make a cut on one side of his lung, and hope to dear god the tissue fused together again.
- Reject the surgery, never exercise again, hope for the best. This gave him a 50/50 chance of still needing the surgery later on.
Benjamin didn’t want to waste his life away living as a victim of a collapsed lung. Instead of being trapped by an unmade decision (his initial plan), he applied creativity and invented a third option.
Instead, he didn’t get the surgery and decided to become stronger so his collapsed lung could heal.
He spent the next 12 months slowly rebuilding his fitness. At the start his chest would give way. Slowly, though, his lungs breathed new life again.
That’s when he heard about a crazy idea from former navy seal David Goggins: 4 miles of running every 4 hours for 48 hours.
He decided to do the grueling challenge in 6 weeks’ time. 3 weeks in his wife and kid got coroni-rona. 4 weeks in coroni-rona shot him down too.
At the 6 week mark he did the marathon run, anyway, despite the coroni after-effects. And he smashed it. Now his lung is healed and the worst case from the doctor is nothing more than a cool story.
Make hard decisions to look back on your life and smile for what you did do — not what you didn’t do because of unmade decisions.
The TikTok attention apocalypse
TikTok has been worse for humanity than Netflix.
Psychologist Nick Wignall says to escape unhelpful thinking patterns you must control your attention. This next visual is what helps a lot.
Attention is a muscle and it needs to be worked, otherwise it becomes weak. TikTok is nuking smart brains every day with addictive short videos that turn us into goldfish.
Our ability to consume books in the future with such a short attention span is on the edge of ruin. Hyper-conscious primates aren’t supposed to get exposed to this much stimulus.
A phone with red notifications and dinging sounds is already a slot machine fresh outta Las Vegas. TikTok has made the problem worse. Without focus we can’t create. Without creation we’re limited to consumption. And with nothing but consumption, we become no smarter than an average monkey.
4000 weeks is an opportunity requiring focus. TikTok is the enemy of focus.
“There are 7.8 billion versions of reality”
So much of life is wasted on stupid arguments with stubborn people.
When you zoom out it helps your 4000 weeks make more sense. If there are 7.8 billion of us and we each have a different view of the world, obviously, the collective perception of reality will vary a lot.
That’s why thinking your way of life is the only one is a waste. Maybe you’re right. Or maybe the god you worship is a myth.
Reality is a negotiation between primates.
Say no to the sneaky life
Amazon employees have a powerful saying: “Trust is earned in drops and lost in buckets.” The quickest way to waste your life is to do sneaky stuff.
Yes, you could pay no tax. But that’s illegal and you’ll always be running from the law. Yes, you could help someone launder money from a crime they committed that you had nothing to do with.
But when you interact with sneaky criminals, even if you’re not a criminal, their lies infect your mind. Before you know it, they’re hunting you down because they delusionally think you stole from them.
A smart, hyper-conscious primate that wants to remain free stays as close to honesty as possible.
The cost of sleepless nights due to dishonesty just isn’t worth it.
Accept an uncertain future
Humans spend too much time worrying about a future they may never see.
4000 weeks is a contract with the creator of human life. Your contract can be ripped up early by a bright yellow school bus veering out of control.
It’s too easy to think you’ve been on the wrong path or don’t know what to do with your life.
The truth is no one knows.
We’re all uncertain of our future. The difference is the ones who truly live have accepted that fact and decided to get on with the show.
Get help for mental health issues
That sexy hyper-conscious primate brain of yours can easily develop hidden mental health issues. It usually looks like anxiety, anger or depression.
I wasted years of my life accepting mental illness and letting it occupy my brain. Then I overcame it, and now I know it’s better off to get professional help and heal. Otherwise, your hurt brain will continue to hurt people.
None of it is necessary.
It’s okay not to be okay. But it’s not okay not to get help.
Forget about status games
It’s easy to get pissed off about your lack of life points (aka money), or your less than ideal job title, or a lack of prestige employers on your resume, or not enough followers/views/attention, or a less than ideal college you graduate from.
Here’s how to stop caring about useless statuses that waste your life…
“No one will say at your funeral:
“He drove a BMW and had 2M followers.”
Life is about the impact you made, not surface level bullsh*t.”
I’m almost halfway through my gift of 4000 weeks. There simply isn’t time to waste. Perhaps you feel the same. Good.
Urgency in life is an asset that will help you achieve unmet dreams faster than you can say “heck yeah.”