How would you like to live for an extra year? What would you do with that newfound
time? Would you start a new hobby? Might you learn a new language? Perhaps you’d
finally be able to fit in some exercise?
Well, now you can begin thinking about those options because I am going to let you in
on one of the greatest secrets that humankind has ever sought. I will tell you how to live
for one extra year, and it will not cost you a single penny. I am not touting magic pills,
nor am I hawking the latest fad diet. This is neither a mysterious amulet nor is it Ponce
de Leon’s legendary Fountain of Youth. But if you invest another few minutes and finish
reading this column, you will find out how to truly live for one extra year. Are you ready?
Because I mean business.
By choosing to wake up only 18 minutes earlier every day, you will gain over 109 extra
hours every year. Do that for the next 20 years, and you will have accumulated over
2190 additional hours. Here in the United States, that exceeds the number of hours in
the average business work year.
Now that you know how to extend your time for an extra “business year,” allow me to
suggest an excellent way to double down and use those precious moments to make a
real difference in your daily life. By making a slight change to your morning routine, you
can supercharge the remainder of each day. Getting up before anyone else in your
household allows time for yourself. The best way to leverage that personal time is to
invest in self-care. The first morning try taking a walk around the block. The next
morning walk for two blocks. Add one more block every day. Pick up the pace and see if
you can walk at least a mile a day. Studies have shown that improving cardiovascular
exercise boosts your mood, improves general health, and even helps people live longer.
Better health means that you might spend less time at the doctor’s office, which serves
to increase the net gain. Are you sensing a pattern here yet?
A study published last month in the journal Emotion demonstrated the healing power
of what they call “awe walks.” By experiencing a fresh perspective of their surroundings
and taking notice of the grand scale beauty, older adults reduced anxiety and
depression while increasing joy and life satisfaction. You can try this yourself and verify
the results of the study. Just turn off your cell phone and take in the majestic sights
wherever you are. Notice the intricate veins in a single leaf or take in the sweeping
beauty of the trees. Pay attention to the sounds around you and allow yourself to feel
humbled by the experience. By letting yourself feel like a small part of the larger
backdrop of the majesty surrounding you, a feeling of becoming part of a greater whole
can transform your sense of belonging. You can feel your place in the universe instead
of thinking of yourself as the center of the universe. It may be counterintuitive; however,
thinking of yourself as “smaller” leads to becoming happier.
Walking has also been shown to lower risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol,
diabetes, cancer, obesity, arthritis, and depression. According to the Center for Disease
Control, “people who are physically active live longer.” Our pattern appears to be self-
perpetuating. Not only will regular walking improve your mood and set a positive tone for your day, but
it will also directly affect the length and quality of your life. Isn’t that worth getting up 18
minutes earlier each day?
Now, what happens if you decide that no matter how beneficial it may be, you simply
cannot surrender 18 minutes of your sleep? Is there anything else you can do to
preserve the benefits of self-care? In fact, there is. Keep track of the time you spend on
social media and reduce that by precisely 18 minutes per day. Which do you think might be easier?