The older we get, the losses and the wins add up…it’s just a function of living a full life.
And as you know (if you read my post “Life is Long”), my philosophy is that everyone’s life is LONG…because it’s the only one we’ve got…and making the most of all of those losses and wins is what makes it long (and fulfilling).
Long lives can be literal too…as I wrote about when my mom passed away in May at the age of 97.
But can our lives be too long?
That’s a question I’ve been thinking about lately…which also made me think about the book and the movie, The Green Mile, which (among other things), is about a guy who outlives everyone in his life.
There’s some supernatural and other worldly stuff in the movie as well—from the mind of Stephen King—but we will focus on the theme of “can life be too long?”
If by chance you are the last woman or man standing in your life, with everyone you love being gone…and if you are still able bodied…would you be prepared to start a new life with new friends and new experiences?
I juxtaposed those thoughts with the reading I’ve been doing about longevity programs, life extension institutes and the like …and while I am by no means an expert on these topics regarding living longer, I have some thoughts about how we live and die because I am an active participant in the former (i.e., living) and came very close to the latter. (i.e., almost dying)
I love when entrepreneur coach and mentor to thousands (including me), Dan Sullivan, talks about living to be 156…which is consistent with a Forbes article from 2013 predicting that the first person to live to 150 has already been born—and even bolder predictions have been made since then.
In 2017, a scientist from Norway upped it to 200 years.
Whatever the number, it’s true that advances in science and medicine will lead to more years for each of us on the planet.
But will it be worth it?
That is, if most of the people you love and respect can’t join you (i.e., living to 150 or 200 will only be for a select few) will it live up to the hype?
The bottom line on this topic (for me):
Being focused (even obsessed) about living longer is only worth it if you also have a plan (obsession?) for how to use your extra years, no matter how many additional decades you add on.
That plan needs to include the macro detail on how you will execute on what you were put on the earth to do (not a small detail!); and it also needs some micro details on how plan to become an expert at making new friends.
I’ll cover the micro portion of creating your plan before attempting to cover the macro.
I checked in with “The Marketing Rebel” and career-long friend, John Carlton, for a reality check on all of this…he’s not only an excellent copywriter but his side hustle is professional philosopher (if that’s a job).
I wanted to know where he stood on the meaning of life…specifically in terms of one’s life and one’s career…and where the two become one.
He said that no matter how many years we have allotted to us, “…life is amazing, terrifying, baffling and joyful.”
A much more eloquent way of saying “a series of losses and wins.” 🙂
And…no matter how many years we have lived (and have left to live), due to the twists and turns, growing and learning, and never standing still, those of us who maintain a consistent level of some success have at least one key thing in common: That we have made—and continue to make–new friends along the way, consistent with any point on our timeline (also called our lifetime).
Becoming a dynamic entrepreneur or marketer (I’m now talking directly to you), there is a “Peter Principle” in regard to the people you regularly hang around with.
Not to take the metaphor too far…since The Peter Principle is a theory created around business hierarchies where people rise to their level of incompetence…but there is an application here as it pertains to the colleagues and business partners you assemble along your journey.
As you rise as an entrepreneur (or whatever you eventually become in your career, which will change regularly and frequently), those who are rising with you at the same pace get to stay (along with new folks you add who are already ahead of you)…and those who can’t keep up with you might have to be left in the dust.
I know that sounds harsh…and there are those who get an exemption.
For example, friends who you have a long and intense history with, such as chums from your childhood (who you would never be friends with today if you were starting over) never should be discarded…they give you a foundation to help you figure out your bigger mission/macro plan.
These are the individuals who have crossed over into becoming more like brothers and sisters…so they don’t count in the calculation of eliminating folks from your life.
As a side note, they count even more when you lose them assuming you receive your golden ticket to live until 150 and they leave you at 75.
But not all of the people in your life are created equal.
The important thing to recognize is when you need to make some changes regarding who you choose to surround yourself with to share all of your losses and wins.
If you lived to be 150 or 200, could you continue to make those kinds of revisions?
Can you do it now whether you are in your 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s etc.?
I’m only suggesting that you should consider living similarly whether you will get to 150…or die tomorrow.
Either way, you still need to live each day boldly no matter how many years you have left…and by boldly, I mean surrounding yourself with equally bold friends, colleagues, students and teachers.
To repeat, life is long no matter how long it is.
Back to my conversation with John Carlton regarding the meaning of life…and for the purposes of this blog post, the meaning of life for marketers and copywriters…and particularly entrepreneurs who understand that marketing is everything. I’m talking to you again. 🙂
He said one of the keys is to embrace a Stoic Philosophy.
So I did some research on Stoicism…the philosophy dates back to the 3rd century B.C…. and no, John wasn’t one of the originators back then despite being a grizzled veteran of many marketing wars.
Here is a quote from one of the adherents of Stoicism, Emperor Marcus Aurelius, which I hope will tie up the concepts I’ve expressed to you today…and enable you to begin the macro portion of your plan where you map out what you are meant to do while you are above the ground:
At dawn, when you have trouble getting out of bed, tell yourself:
“I have to go to work — as a human being. What do I have to complain of, if I’m going to do what I was born for — the things I was brought into the world to do? Or is this what I was created for? To huddle under the blankets and stay warm?”
So you were born to feel “nice”? Instead of doing things and experiencing them?
Don’t you see the plants, the birds, the ants and spiders and bees going about their individual tasks, putting the world in order, as best they can?
And you’re not willing to do your job as a human being?
Why aren’t you running to do what your nature demands?
You don’t love yourself enough.
Or you’d love your nature too, and what it demands of you.
― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
So, here’s the game plan to living a long and meaningful life regardless of how many years it might last:
- Whether you study longevity hacks or not, think about your life in terms of being long…today
- Stay present when you feel yourself wavering or changing—whether it’s an active form of stagnation or procrastination…shifting to a new level–and surround yourself with the appropriate people for that moment…and beyond…and never be afraid to change the cast of characters in the book or the movie titled “Your Life.”
- Be stoic in the face of everything: Stay virtuous and ethical, always think about your purpose (i.e., “your job as a human being,”), look at everything with what we will call a “caring indifference,” (i.e., don’t get too high or too low) whether you experience pain, pleasure, grief or joy…and just soak everything in with courage
- And…avoid hitting the snooze button when your alarm goes off