Coming to Terms with a Finite Life

At 67, I am acutely aware of the finite nature of life. As Oliver Burkeman suggests in his book "4000 Weeks," if I am fortunate to reach 80, I have only about 700 weeks left. This alarming quantification of time doesn't fill me with dread; instead, it serves as a powerful impetus to optimise how I spend my remaining days.

At this point in my life, stepping back from my work holds no appeal. On the contrary, I feel a renewed zest to delve into writing and give shape to my ideas that have been percolating through my reading and work for the last twenty years.

My goal isn't just personal gratification; Through my Wisepreneurs website, Wisepreneurs newsletter, Wisepreneurs podcast and Linkedin, I am committed to sharing my insights and experiences with my readers and assisting them in their journeys. I have chosen my path for the precious weeks ahead, hoping to have more weeks than just 700.

I still work in my marketing services firm, Thirteenth Beach Marketing Services Pty Ltd, an Australian firm providing marketing advice and servicing 17 WordPress client websites, including hosting, securing, updating and adding content as required.


If we consider an average lifespan of 80 years, that equates to roughly 4000 weeks. By the time we reach 60, we have approximately 1000 weeks left. This quantification of life, inspired by Oliver Burkeman's book, "4000 Weeks," underscores our finite time. It also signals a heightened urgency to maximise productivity and fulfilment as we age, often burdened by diverse responsibilities.

Tasks, and more tasks

Knowledge professionals such as freelancers, consultants, and other knowledge workers frequently find themselves entangled in an unending cycle of tasks. Despite their best efforts—reading productivity tips, testing new apps, or trying new frameworks—the pursuit of 'getting more done' often ends in futility.

Productivity and progress

This ceaseless chase can culminate in the uncomfortable realisation that productivity doesn't necessarily equate to progress. As our time dwindles and our to-do lists grow, the ability to discern what to do – and, more importantly, what not to do – becomes crucial.

Selective neglect

To navigate this maze of tasks and choices, Burkeman introduces the concept of "Selective Neglect" or "the joy of missing out." It's about consciously ignoring certain charges, recognising that every choice to say 'yes' implies saying 'no' to other possibilities.

Burkeman presents three strategies to aid in this process:

Self-Prioritisation: This strategy involves embracing the impracticality of accomplishing everything and prioritising oneself. By initiating projects you have long hoped to undertake, you assert your agency, shaping your life through your choices.

Project Limitation: This strategy involves restricting ongoing projects to prevent overload. Burkeman recommends a maximum of three projects at a time, introducing a new one only after completing or abandoning a current one. This approach can prevent you from stretching too thin across multiple tasks, including personal commitments and everyday chores.

Rejection of Medium-Importance Tasks: The final strategy encourages learning to decline tasks that do not align with your personal or professional goals. Agreeing to these medium-importance tasks often stems from a desire to please others, contributing to burnout and distraction.

If these insights resonate with you, it may be time to reflect on your life priorities and consider utilising your remaining weeks towards creating a life that brings fulfilment and meaning.

A well-lived life isn't merely surviving each week but making each week count.

Rahaf Harfoush states, 'We aren't machines, and it's time we stopped working like one.'
Her quote reminds us that our goal should not be mechanical productivity but purposeful engagement. 

  • Take a moment to reflect on what truly matters to you.
  • How can you best spend your remaining time to create a life that feels meaningful, fulfilling, and uniquely yours?

These questions can guide you to a life of conscious choice and authentic satisfaction.

Oliver Burkeman, Four Thousand Weeks

Rahaf Harfoush, Hustle and Float, Reclaim your Creativity and Thrive in a World Obsessed with Work

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