If You Only Have 10 Years Left To Live, What Do You Do?

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Apologies if I scared anyone into thinking I only have 10 years left to live, but I’m participating again in the financial independence bloggers’ thought experiment, and this is today’s topic! Obviously I have no idea how long I have left to live, but I sincerely hope that I will be blessed with more than 10 years to come.


As I’ve mentioned before, I love reading financial independence (FIRE) blogs. Last week SavingNinja announced the next subject for the Thought Experiment series, where a question is posed and different financial independence bloggers answer the same question in a post on their own site. The idea is for each blogger to use a “string of consciousness” approach to answer the question - responding with whatever first comes to mind, rather than composing a pre-thought out, perfectly reasoned article.

The second thought experiment topic is as follows:

What would you do if you knew with absolute certainty that you would die in exactly 10 years time? It doesn’t matter how you know this or what you will die of; in 3652 days you will drop dead.

So after a bit of anxiety related trepidation (do I really want to let my mind wander to my impending doom?!), I decided to jump on in. Here’s my contribution to Thought Experiment number 2



What would you do if you knew with absolute certainty that you would die in exactly 10 years time? It doesn’t matter how you know this or what you will die of; in 3652 days you will drop dead.

I find this quite a difficult thought experiment to participate in because it’s not nice thinking about a scenario where I’m not around in 10 year’s time. Having 10 years left to live does not sound like that many in the grand scheme of things. Of course there’s no certainty in life that I would be here for more than 10 years anyway, but I think it’s human nature to think that we will live to average life expectancy age, if not more.

I suppose on the flip side, I could look at this in terms of it being nice to know that I have a guaranteed 10 years still to go - because I’m going to assume from the scenario wording that I definitely survive to the 10th year point - so that could be taken as a positive, looking at it from a glass half-full perspective.

Initial Thoughts

My initial thoughts when pondering this question are over whether I alone would be facing this predicament, or if anyone around me were in the same position. It’s one thing to be faced with certain death on a known date just for yourself, but an entirely different scenario if say it were both me and my boyfriend. If it were the both of us then I imagine that our joint actions would be a bit different to what we would do if it’s only me who’s gone in 10 year’s time. We wouldn’t need to worry about finances or plans beyond the 10 years so we’d probably both decide to have a bit of fun and blow all our money over the 10 years together.

However, I’m going to assume for the purposes of this thought experiment that the 10 year fate is mine alone. So my thoughts on what I would do take into consideration the fact that my boyfriend, and my family will be around far longer than me, after my 10 years is up.

Who Would I Tell?

I guess my first decision would be whether to tell anyone, and if so who. I think I would probably take a tiered approach to this. I’d tell my boyfriend because I would need at least one other person to talk to about my predicament. I think I’d tell my closest family, but I’m a bit torn on this. I wouldn’t want to put them through the pain of knowing my fate stretched out over 10 years, plus I might want to enjoy a couple more years of just being ‘normal’, with no special or pity treatment (in the nicest possible way).

Then again, I’m not sure I could live with not telling them once I knew though. I think if any of them were in a similar situation, that I would want to know so that I could help them and talk it through with them, and make sure that we spent those precious 10 years doing things we’d always wanted to do together.

I don’t think I would tell my wider family or friends until much closer to the 10 year point though. Perhaps when I have 1-2 years left I’d consider sharing. Having said that, I have had a thought that I’d probably choose to film my final 10 years and pop videos on YouTube to document how I chose to spend my time. So on that basis everyone would know! Perhaps, then that’s my answer, I would simply let everyone know and share with them the ups and downs of my experience.

What About My Finances?

With regards to my finances things would have to change! I’ve been saving toward early retirement and financial independence, but with only 10 years left to live I’d stop this pretty soon I think.

I’d take stock of all the money/investments I’ve amassed to work out what I’ve got to live on over the next 10 years. I’m going to assume that I’d get special dispensation to be able to access my pension funds before the ‘normal’ retirement age. I think I would have enough to cover my expenses over the 10 years if I continued to live as I do now - but there would be nothing left at the end, apart from my proportion of the equity in our house.

I definitely wouldn’t go back to working in an office job, but I think I would continue to do the fun online businesses which I’ve started to give me a bit of a boost to my income. In this way I hope that I’d have funds to be able to splurge a bit and go travel on some really nice trips, as well as treating myself a bit to some nice clothes/beauty/spa treatments.



Bucket List Items

I’d definitely review my bucket list, with a view to identifying items I definitely want to have the experience of doing. I’d probably scrap a few too, if I felt they were no longer as important to me given my shorter life timeframe. Then I’d set-to working out a plan of how I could definitely do the ones that are most important to me.

Having a quick glance over my current bucket list I think a few of the things I’d want to do are:

  • Go to Tony Robbins’ Date With Destiny program, or better still, join his Platinum Partnership program
    • A big hairy audacious goal of mine!
  • Become a Tony Robbins Senior Leader or Trainer, where I could go help other people have amazing experiences at his events
  • Travel business (or first) class on a long haul flight at least once
    • I’ve always wanted this experience
  • Finish my goal of seeing the England Cricket Team play test matches at every test match ground in the UK
    • I have Cardiff and Lords left to go - hopefully one of them I’d manage a box or executive suite!
  • A whole host of Disney related bucket list items!
    • Staying at the Disneyland Paris Hotel
    • Staying at the Grand Floridian on a family trip to Orlando visiting Disney and Universal
    • Visiting Disneyland in California
    • Going to one of the Disney parks at Christmas time to see the decorations
    • Going on a Disney cruise
  • Going on a world cruise!
10 years left to live watching Disney fireworks across a lake

Leaving A Legacy

I think I’d also be thinking about what sort of legacy I wanted to leave the world. This may be a whole host of videos documenting my 10 years. It might be a large charity venture I could set-up and get going, so that it lives on long beyond my demise. Or it could be the act of going and helping build a school or something like that abroad for a few months. It might be buying a brick or nameplate somewhere that is meaningful to me, and getting my name set where it may last for a 100 or so years into the future (nothing lasts forever right?) Or maybe it would be something else entirely. I’m not sure what, but I know that I’d want to do something to leave my mark in a positive way.

Tidying Up Before I Go

Nearer the end of my 10 years left to live, I guess my attention would also turn to getting my affairs in order. I’d want to make sure that all of my finances were ok for when I was gone - so that I don’t leave my boyfriend or other family members in a difficult financial position, and so that I could give anything that I wanted to pass on to my loved ones. In short, I think I’d be having a massive clear-out to sort all my stuff, so that family didn’t have to do it once I was gone.

The Most Important Things

Finally, and most importantly, I’d look for as many ways as possible over the 10 years to spend my precious remaining days with my friends and family.

I’ve often thought it would be fun to get some sort of RV and travel around the UK staying a little while near where my friends are based and sharing fun times with them. So maybe I’d do that for a bit.

I’d see if close family wanted to do some really nice trips away together, to make as many memories as possible.

I think I’d also take some time to either write letters or film videos that people could receive on future birthdays and christmases after I’m gone. It may sound like a strange thing to do, but I kinda like the idea of still being around on those special occasions in some form or other. But then a part of me thinks maybe that would just make people sad and remind them that I’m not there. Anyway, it’s just an idea!

Go Out In Style

I think as the end of the 10 years swung round, I’d plan a massive party, with as many people as I’d known from my life coming along.

I’d get myself a really nice bottle of champagne (if you read my last thought experiment you might see a theme here) and with all my favourite people gathered around me, I’d plan to go out with a bang!

10 years left to live tray filled with champagne glasses and a bottle of pink bubbles



Once again I stuck to SavingNinja’s brief of making this a “conscious stream of thought”. I literally just poured my thoughts out into this post as they came to me, so please don’t judge me for anything I may not have thought about in the moment!

If this has sparked your interest, why don’t you have a go at writing an answer yourself? If you do, please let me know your response in the comments below or send me a link to your post and I’ll add it to my list in this post!

Other Answers To Thought Experiment #2

Here’s the other responses people have written for the scenario where they only have 10 yeaers left to live:



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