Ms ZYou Dead

If I would be dead in 10 years – a thought experiment

One of the only certainties in life, alongside taxes, is death. We all know and accept we will die, however, we don’t know when.

But if you knew when you would die, would you live your life the same? Or a bit differently? Or radically overhaul it?

The thought experiment

So, for today’s post I am linking up with other UK FI bloggers to play a thought game – what would I do if I would be dead in 10 years.

The rules are as follows: a quick stream of consciousness post answering the question posed. If you want to join in please do and write a quick post of your own – then let us know and we’ll add you in.

So here is my post on what I would personally do if I knew I would die in 10 years.

What would I do first?

Initially, not much different to what I’d do if I won £1m. I’d make arrangements to stop working but see out my contract and not leave others in the lurch, as that just isn’t me.

Although I don’t yet have enough money saved to support me for the rest of my life, I most certainly have enough to last 10 years. So if I knew I would be dead in 10 years, then it’s a whole different ball game.

That in itself is good to remember – that without working I could easily survive for 10 years today. And that makes me feel rich and reassured – that no matter what life throws at me, I have enough cash to get through financially. So there is one less thing to worry about going wrong. And that relief is a great privilege.

Bucket List Time

You know I love planning and making lists, don’t you? I’m currently working through my 40 by 40 list, which is a mixture of awesome and somewhat mediocre things I want to achieve in a few years. And I really should give it a review again, I think I’m falling behind schedule despite completing a few items last month – notably the Ring Cycle and 100 Parkruns.

But what would my bucket list look like if I knew I would be dead in 10 years? Similarly to my answer above, not very different than it does now. What I want to achieve and get out of life hasn’t changed, only the timescales are compressed. And that may mean some difficult choices, and some items being bumped down the list.

My life would still involve exercise, running, hiking, learning, theatre, more theatre, opera, reading, more reading. And of course travel.


Travel would definitely still feature in my life – there are so many countries I have yet to visit that I am very keen to experience – including Asia. Yes, I’ve not yet been to proper Asia (only Turkey), which is a bit embarrassing, to be honest.

So once I had finished work, I’d pack up and go full on nomadic, travelling the world and visiting as many new countries as possible. I’d sell my house and bank the liquidated cash. And face my hoarding tendencies straight on, and start to embrace minimalism.

I still harbour a desire to see each and every country in the world, and you know what? That might even be achievable in 10 years with a lot of planning. And I love planning, it gives me so much joy so I’d start working on a plan to see them all.

Using Time Wisely

One thing I’d change in life would be to use my time better. If my time is suddenly finite, I would value it more and make sure I used it better. I’d be much more willing to pay for things to be faster and more efficient all around.

I’d start outsourcing again and be less including to learn more practical skills like home maintenance, as there is less of a payoff and money would not be an issue.

Moreover, I’d make sure I spent good quality time with friends and family – focussing on quality rather than quantity. Most likely I’d fly them out to visit me on my travels and take them away from the stresses of day to day life. And then we could spend carefree time together and jointly experience cool new places.

Moral Compass

Ms ZiYou Evil SkeletonsSo would the lack of consequences for actions affect me? Would I start doing things knowing I could get away with them and not face punishment?

I don’t think I would – my moral compass is ruled by my own moral code, not the threat of facing punishment from an arbitrary authority. I would feel really guilty if I harmed others, and who wants to go to their deathbed with guilt?

Legacy Issues

I’m not really narcissistic enough for a legacy, sorry. I don’t think my life is exciting or interesting enough that people would want to remember it. There would be no memoir or autobiography to document my life and like the vast majority of women before me, I’d simply disappear. As Virginia Woolf writes in A Room of Her Own:

Have you any notion how many books are written about women in the course of one year? Have you any notion how many are written by men? Are you aware that you are, perhaps, the most discussed animal in the universe?

However, I’d make sure that any remaining money was left to causes that aligned with my values. And that means feminist charities supporting women as well as the cat shelters. So I would actually write that will and make sure my wishes were known by everyone.

Read the other entries

So you’ve read what I would do, what about the others? How would it change or not change their lives?

And thanks to SavingsNinja for organising.

Over to you

  • What are your thoughts?
  • What would you do if you would die in 10 years?
  • Would you change much about the way you live your life?

Thank you for reading – please leave a comment below and join in the conversation. You can also connect on Twitter or contact me privately.



28 comments on “If I would be dead in 10 years – a thought experiment

  1. Straight on the road to traveling and minimalism. Exactly my cup of tea! I think there’s a lot to be said to stripping away everything before you can truly find what brings you fulfillment.

    Awesome that you wouldn’t change too much. Hopefully that will be the same with me once I’ve grown a bit more of my freedom pot.

    Great post!

  2. Every country in the world? Wow, that would be an amazing trip!

    I read somewhere about a lady who managed it solo in about 4 years, so 10 years should be give you plenty of time to savour the experience. Image all the travel stories and fantastic photos you’d accumulate.

      1. But after ten years, you’d wouldn’t be around to tell your travel stories to anyone. And the photos? Beyond close family and friends, no-one will be interested in seeing a random person posing in an artfully composed shot.

        This is not as an aggressive a challenge as it perhaps first appears btw. I just always find the travel answer interesting on an existential level.

        1. Erm, I think you must have a very different way if thinking and being. You seem focused on external validation, and frankly that is not something I desire. I wouldn’t be travelling so I could tell takes or show pictures. I’d be travelling for me.

          1. I think you misunderstand my challenge, Ms ZiYou. I’m not focussed on that kind of external validation at all.

            It was a response to in-deed-ably who said “Image (sic) all the travel stories and fantastic photos you’d accumulate”. I just wonder why someone with ten years to live would find that to be of value – given they wouldn’t be around to share them with others or review them personally.

            More broadly, I am curious why so a large amount of travel appeals. I can see the appeal of a few “always wanted to see before I die” destinations. But dozens or even hundreds of them? Definitely not for me, I’d spend the ten years rather differently.

          2. Ah, I’m on my phone so can’t see the threading clearly.

            In my mind it’s the same way some people love cricket say and soak it all up, follow religiously and spend all their free time following the game. Others are happy seeing a match at the weekend. And many more are not at all interested.

            Humans are as diverse in our interests as we are in our beliefs.

  3. Fascinating answer, had a feeling it would involve a lot a travel and you’d be able to fit a lot in, in 10 years.

    Interesting that you mention your moral compass – I’m not sure I would be able to do anything against my own ‘code’, although I may take more risks than I currently do!

  4. The moral compass point is one that I hadn’t considered. I’ve often pondered about how thin the veneer of civilization is in society. There are so many places in the world where it breaks down so quickly. Your point is well made that for many people their moral compass is conditioned by the fear of retribution.

    I think though that it says a lot about your core values that a) you think about it at all, and b) that you expect to stay true to your internal values!

  5. Re: travelling/minimalism, I’ve pretty much been doing as you describe for the last 3 years or so. We (married) keep to fairly cheap countries and only stay in nice apartments (not hostels) and somehow have spent sub-£20k a year.

    Being single and on circa £30k a year, wow – you’re going to be able to do Asia in real style when you’re FI. Or afford McDonalds in Copenhagen, as you choose.

    1. Hi Fatcat – that sounds like you’ve been having a great time there on very little money. Your style of travel seems what I am aiming for – budget but not sharing accommodation.

      And yes I’ll have to balance my country choices to balance the budget and mix the more expensive ones in with the cheap. I want to be able to say yes to Amazing places like Bhutan and the Galapagos and Antarctica and not be constrained by funds.

  6. Some great thoughts there!

    I also didn’t think about the moral compass thing, I guess it never crossed my mind that I’d do anything “naughty”, but it’s an interesting point…

    People I know/knew who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness have done nothing of the sort and just think of the millions of people who get diagnosed with cancer etc every year and the huge majority of which don’t go around being ‘orrible. I think our fellow human beings deserve a bit more credit than we sometimes give them.

    With regards to a legacy… You already have one in this blog! 🙂


What do you think?