Running Your Life Backwards

Do people in their 20s, 30s, or 40s ever imagine themselves in their 60s, 70s, or 80s? I imagine we all do. What if we ran our lives backwards, starting at the end and considered what that meant? In doing so, consider the most common scenario based on people in those later age groups and what that can mean for us today.

At 70 Years Old

You may have a few years to live. You may live another 30 years. You do not know. What is certain is you have been retired for a few months to a few years. Who knows? The time all blurs together now. It appears that time actually does move faster than at first perceived in youth.

About 30 years ago, in your late 30s, you decided to think about what life would be like when you are 70. Imagine that. You only had about 20 to 30 years of productive working life left before you had to give it up. The 20 or 30 years passed by faster than you imagined. You vaguely remember people saying such things when you were much younger. Now it is the end.

At 60 Years Old

Time to plan for Social Security compensation. You hoped all those years your wages were high enough to sustain your life beyond working age. You do not really know. Keeping track was the furthest thing from your mind. You just worked jobs and hoped for the best.

Savings from your 20s and 30s do not exist. The goal of your 40s and 50s was to avoid vagrancy as society was rocked by more recessions and bubbles. Industries and careers rose and fell. All your hopes are quietly turning to Social Security.

You are wiser and you have great advice for people you work with. As the work years wane, you want to leave behind useful advice that will benefit future generations. You share stories of times in your 20s and 30s when you accomplished great things. People listen to what you say, but you can tell that sometimes they don’t really hear what you say. It is kindness that they listen anyway. It makes the moments worthwhile.

At 50 Years Old

During this time, you seem to have a steadiness and certainty about things. Life during your 30s and 40s may have been on shaky ground. You misjudged the end of financial strife. You have a sense of losing 20 to 30 years figuring things out and getting things right. This is your last chance to substantially improve your life before your productive work years end. You remember saying similar things in your 30s and 40s. This time will be different. Oddly enough, it is increasingly harder to say such things to yourself with a straight face.

At 40 Years Old

Perhaps you are near the end of a long saga to pay off serious debts. An underlying trial others knew nothing about that tied your hands in terms of living life full throttle. You were always too ashamed to share your deepest fears and mistakes. The blog you maintained contained a lot of your life story except for the really painful stuff you can never share.

A deadly realization is that your earliest chance at a career in your 20s may have come at the cost of others whose age you are now. You have seen many of the same patterns unfold. Can you be exempt from such a deadly occurrence? Do you deserve what comes either way?

Perhaps you have matured more and appreciate what you have. It is time to settle in for a steadier way of living. Maybe you are late to the game of living life with less risk but you are finally closing in on the dream of a house, great car, rising career and reliable living situation. It is still up in the air however as you suspect the best parts of you have been given up.

You have survived many trials in your life but they have left you scarred. The wounds are not often physical. Your reigning perspective is drawn from your experiences rather than your imagination. You are better prepared to avoid the dangers you now know exist. As much as you were once the sum of your hopes, you are as much now the sum of your errors.

At 30 Years Old

You still think you are capable of changing the world. You are full of fire and drive. The experience you have comes to fruition in dramatically influencing business strategy and operations. The work you do is regarded as superb. It looks like there is no end to your potential.

Even though that business you started in your 20s didn’t work out, you swear to yourself you are going to try again. Big time entrepreneurs your age are making an impact and you won’t be left behind. Except, you are going to do a solid business with solid business fundamentals the old-fashioned way. Your time is going to come as you work a steady career. You see some success in building a life while you still dream. True success through bootstrapping seems to be the best plan.

At 20 Years Old

As you look around, you think you can do better than a modern version of the Flintstones. You shake things up without a second thought. Life snares back with a vengeance to teach you but you take it in stride because you and life are on the same page. Evolution. The sense of life is thrilling and full of opportunity to set the stage for great outcomes.

By the time you are 70, you absolutely know you are going to live an immensely idyllic way with a continued opportunity for much more. You get distracted. You make some huge mistakes. No matter however, you have plenty of time.


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