Why Each Year Of Your Life Feels Shorter (And What To Do About It)

This artice was written by Tyler Tervooren, a writer and creator residing in Portland, Or. He is also the founder of Advanced Riskology

Time doesn’t change, but you do…

Have you noticed certain occasions cause you to stop and think about your past? Birthdays, anniversaries, new years and other significant events all bring on this kind of introspection.

And as you think about all the things that happened in your life since the last event, have you noticed they all start to blend together—that the things that happened a year or more ago still feel like they were just yesterday?

It’s the beginning of a brand new year, and people the world over—myself included—are thinking about the year behind them and making plans for the one ahead. But one big mistake so often made is to make a big goal or commit to a big risk that you won’t start until later.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with “later;” you have to prioritize your life and some things just don’t fit right now. But the older you get, the more troublesome doing something “later” becomes. It has to do with human psychology and how we experience the speed of time.

A year is always 365 days but, as you get older, each one becomes shorter and shorter. Here’s what I mean and what you can do about it.

A Year In The Life Of A Child And His Grandfather

Timmy just turned five years old, and his biggest wish is to go to Disneyland. He got this idea stuck in his head at four-and-a-half and has waited to ask for it for his birthday.

Timmy’s grandpa gets word that Timmy really wants to go to Disneyland and decides to take him. But now isn’t a good time for the family. Timmy has important tests coming up at school, and Grandpa has projects at work. So, Grandpa puts together a nice card and packet full of pictures of the amusement park with a promise to Timmy: “We’re going to Disneyland next year!”

But when Timmy opens his present, he’s distraught. “We have to wait till next year?!” Timmy asks. “I can’t wait that long! That’s forever!” Grandpa is confused. To him, next year is just around the corner, and he has to request time off from work and arrange travel plans.

Timmy and his grandpa experience time from two completely different perspectives. Timmy is just five. Asking him to wait a year for something—1/5 of his entire existence—is like asking him to wait a lifetime. To Timmy, a year really does feel like forever.

But Grandpa is 60. He’s been around the sun a few more times than Timmy, and waiting a year for something is easy—just 1/60th of his life. To him, it feels like he could take a nap and wake up next year. No big deal.

Your Big Dreams: Be Wise Like An Old Man, But Impatient Like A Child

There’s a famous saying, “Youth is wasted on the young.” The idea being the older you get, the easier it is to spot the mistakes young people make as they learn to navigate the world. If only you could go back and live it again, this time with all the knowledge you’ve gained over the years.

But living in the past is nothing if not a surefire way to miss all the opportunities that pass you by—faster and faster—as you grow older.

Youth isn’t wasted on the young. No matter how old you are, there’s an important lesson you can learn from young people who can help you make your dreams come true: Be impatient.

But apply that lesson with your hard-fought years of wisdom: Be impatient where it counts.

One of the tragedies of life is that the young are insufferably impatient when they have a whole lifetime ahead of them to figure things out, and the elders develop a zen-like patience when they can ill afford it.

Patience is a virtue when your flight is canceled, your kid is throwing a tantrum, or you’re waiting for your girlfriend to finish her makeup. But when you have something big and important to do—legacy building work—patience will only make sure you put it off until it’s too late. These things take time, and time is speeding up!

When it comes to your dreams, your goals, and the risks you want to take, be wise like an old man, but impatient like a child.


Your Next 365 Very Short Days…

No matter how old you are, 365 days feels like a long time. But it isn’t. In fact, the speed it passes with only gets faster every year.

Yesterday, you probably spent some time celebrating the New Year. When you went to bed, did the day seem unbearably long—like you had all the time in the world to do what you wanted? What makes you think today, tomorrow, or any of the other days this year will be different.

If there’s a risk you want to take this year—something that will change your life—start now. Seize the day, and don’t hesitate. Tomorrow will be here even faster than today arrived.

What will you start today?

Title photo credit: flickr
Photo credit: 1, 2

Written by Tyler Tervooren

Mastering my psychology. Ran a marathon on every continent. Organized 3 world records.

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