Death: One Hell of a Wake-Up Call

Last updated on August 9, 2023

Only two things in life are inevitable. Death and taxes (and I’m not so sure about the latter).

It’s something that we all know, but often choose to ignore.

But what if you start seeing death as the ultimate motivator in life?

Imagine starting your life in reverse. Where you focus on achieving your goals and true wealth before it’s too late.

Sounds crazy, right? But hear me out.

Realizing that death comes before wealth can be a powerful motivator. It forces us to take a step back and evaluate what’s truly important in life.

It’s easy to get caught up in the daily grind and put off our dreams and aspirations until “someday”.

But what if “someday” never comes?

That’s why it’s crucial to take action and start living your life to the fullest. Instead of waiting for “someday” to arrive, you should be actively working towards your goals and creating a fulfilling and financially secure life.

But how do we do this?

Today, we’ll:

  • Explore the philosophy of life in reverse
  • See how death can be a powerful motivator
  • Learn the importance of taking action to achieve our goals
  • Discuss practical strategies, and tips on how to make the most of our time and resources

So, let’s dive right in.


β“΅ The philosophy of life in reverse

❖ Understanding the true meaning of wealth

The importance of experiences and relationships over possessions: It’s easy to get caught up in the idea that having more possessions will bring us happiness and wealth.

However, true wealth is about more than just owning material things. It’s about the experiences and relationships that we build throughout our lives. Research has shown that spending money on experiences (such as travel or learning a new skill) brings more long-term happiness than buying material possessions.

Additionally, investing in relationships and building a strong support system can also bring a sense of wealth and fulfillment.

The difference between “having” and “being” wealthy: Many of us strive for financial success and to “have” more money. But true wealth is about “being” in a state of abundance. It’s about having a sense of security and contentment in our lives, rather than constantly striving for more.

When we focus on “being” wealthy, we shift our mindset from constantly chasing more money to finding contentment in what we already have.

❖ Seeing death as a reminder to live our lives to the fullest

The power of mortality as a motivator: Death is a stark reminder of our own mortality and the limited time we have in this world. Rather than fearing death, we can use it as a powerful motivator to live our lives to the fullest and make the most of the time we have.

Related:  This Is How to Make a Living Will (In 5 Simple Steps)

When we understand that death comes before wealth, we are reminded that life is precious and we should make the most of it.

The dangers of putting off our dreams and goals: It’s easy to put off our dreams and goals, thinking that we have plenty of time to achieve them later.

However, death serves as a reminder that time is limited and we shouldn’t wait to start pursuing our dreams. Every day that we delay taking action towards our goals is a day that we’ll never get back.


β“Ά Strategies for achieving true wealth

❖ Set and achieve meaningful goals

Identifying and prioritizing your values and passions: When it comes to achieving true wealth, it’s important to start by identifying your values and passions.

What is most important to you in life?

What do you want to accomplish?

Once you have a clear understanding of your values and passions, you can set goals that align with them.

Creating a plan and taking action towards your goals: Once you have identified your goals, it’s important to create a plan for achieving them. This includes setting specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals.

And breaking them down into smaller, actionable steps. It’s also important to make a habit of taking consistent action towards your goals, (no matter how small or insignificant they may seem).

❖ Build income-generating assets

The importance of growing your income to offset inflation: In order to achieve true wealth, it’s important to focus on growing your income. This is because inflation tends to erode the value of your money over time, so you need to make sure that your income is growing at a rate that offsets it.

Strategies for creating passive income streams: Creating passive income streams is one of the most effective ways to grow your income. This can include things like rental properties, dividend-paying stocks, and online businesses. The key is to find ways to make money without having to actively work for it.

❖ Protect your wealth

The importance of diversifying your investments: One of the most important things you can do to protect your wealth is to diversify your investments. This means spreading your money across different types of investments, such as stocks, bonds, real estate, and cash.

This helps to reduce your risk of losing all of your money in one bad investment and ensures that you have a diverse portfolio that can weather market fluctuations.

❖ Build a strong financial foundation

The importance of saving and budgeting: Creating a budget and sticking to it is crucial for achieving true wealth.

It allows you to track your spending, identify areas where you can cut back, and allocate your money towards your goals. It also helps you to save money for unexpected expenses and emergencies.

How to create a comprehensive financial plan: A comprehensive financial plan takes into consideration all aspects of your financial life, including saving, investing, budgeting, and protecting your assets.

It helps you to identify your short-term and long-term goals. And create a plan to achieve them. A financial advisor can help you to create a plan that’s tailored to your specific needs and goals.


β“· Charlie Munger and inversion

Charlie Munger is a renowned American businessman, investor, and philanthropist. Who is best known for being the Vice Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway (the conglomerate led by Warren Buffett – read his invaluable letters here).

Related:  11 Stress-Free Lessons From "Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers"

Munger has a unique approach to decision-making and problem-solving, which he calls “inverting.”

This involves looking at a problem or situation in reverse. And identifying the potential mistakes or errors that could be made. By avoiding these mistakes, Munger believes that one can make better decisions and achieve better outcomes.

Munger’s approach to “inverting” is similar to the idea of “life in reverse”.

He also suggests considering what could go wrong with an investment rather than focusing solely on what could go right.

Here are 4 tips for applying Munger’s inversion approach to investing:

  1. Identify potential risks: Start by identifying the potential risks and downsides of an investment. Ask yourself what could go wrong and what factors could negatively impact the investment.
  2. Consider the worst-case scenario: Think about the worst-case scenario and consider whether you would still be comfortable with the investment if that were to happen.
  3. Look for a margin of safety: Munger also emphasizes the importance of a “margin of safety” when investing. This means looking for investments that have a built-in buffer against potential risks.
  4. Be skeptical: Munger advises investors to be skeptical and question the assumptions that are being made about an investment. It is important to think critically and not accept everything at face value.

β“Έ Top 6 FAQ on death and wealth

❖ What is the philosophy of life in reverse?

The philosophy of life in reverse is the idea that instead of living your life in a linear progression, you should focus on achieving your goals and true wealth before it’s too late.

This means prioritizing your values, passions, and dreams. And taking action towards achieving them before our time runs out.

❖ How can death be a powerful motivator?

Death serves as a reminder that your time on earth is limited. And that you should make the most of it. It can serve as a wake-up call to start living your life in a way that is true to yourself and your values (rather than putting off your goals and dreams until it’s too late).

❖ What is the difference between “having” and “being” wealthy?

“Having” wealth refers to the possession of material goods and financial resources. While “being” wealthy refers to a state of fulfillment and contentment in one’s life.

The philosophy of life in reverse emphasizes the importance of experiences and relationships over possessions. And the idea that true wealth comes from living a fulfilling and meaningful life.

❖ How can I create a plan to achieve my goals and true wealth?

Creating a plan to achieve your goals and true wealth involves identifying and prioritizing your values, passions, and dreams.

It also involves setting specific, measurable, and achievable goals, and taking action towards achieving them. This can include building income-generating assets, protecting your wealth, and building a strong financial foundation through saving and budgeting.

Additionally, it’s important to stay informed and educated about personal finance and investment strategies. And to seek out guidance from experts in the field (when needed).

❖ How can I ensure that my family will be taken care of financially after my death?

One way to ensure that your family will be taken care of financially after your death is to have a comprehensive estate plan in place. This can include a will, trust, power of attorney, and advanced healthcare directive.

Related:  7 Health Lessons From "The Upside of Stress"

It’s also important to have life insurance and to regularly review and update your beneficiaries on accounts such as retirement accounts and insurance policies.

❖ What are some common misconceptions about achieving wealth before death?

One common misconception is that achieving wealth before death requires taking excessive financial risks. However, true wealth is often built through consistent and disciplined saving, investing, and budgeting.

Another misconception is that achieving wealth before death is only for the wealthy or privileged. In reality, anyone can achieve wealth before death through hard work, perseverance, and smart financial planning.


β“Ή Best 10 quotes on death and wealth

“We have two lives, and the second begins when we realize we only have one.”

― Confucius

“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.”

β€” Mark Twain

“Wealth is not about having a lot of money; it’s about having a lot of options.”

β€” Chris Rock

“The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty: not knowing what comes next.”

β€” Ursula K. Le Guin

“Death is not the opposite of life, but a part of it.”

β€” Haruki Murakami

“The greatest wealth is to live content with little.”

β€” Plato

“The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”

β€” Steve Jobs

“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”

β€” Nelson Mandela

“The fear of death is the most unjustified of all fears, for there’s no risk of accident for someone who’s dead.”

β€” Albert Einstein

“The only thing that makes life worth living is the constant pursuit of new and interesting experiences.”

β€” Anthony Bourdain

β“Ί Popular books on death and wealth

“The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing” by Bronnie Ware

This book is based on the author’s experiences as a hospice nurse, in which she shares the top five regrets of her patients as they approached death. The common themes include wishing they had the courage to live a life true to themselves, wishing they hadn’t worked so hard, and wishing they had stayed in touch with their friends.

“Death and Money” by Mark R. Rank

This book delves into the financial impact of death on families and society as a whole, and offers solutions for individuals and policymakers to address the issue.

“Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence” by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez

This classic personal finance book teaches readers how to break the cycle of consumerism and achieve financial independence by tracking their expenses, creating a budget, and finding ways to earn more money.

“The End of Life Book Club: A Daughter’s Memoir” by Will Schwalbe

This memoir recounts the author’s experiences reading books with his mother as she was dying from cancer, and how the process helped them to better understand and cope with death.

“The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch

This book is based on a lecture given by the author, a computer science professor, as he was dying from pancreatic cancer. In it, he shares his insights on achieving childhood dreams, the importance of overcoming obstacles, and the power of perseverance.


Final thoughts

If death doesn’t motivate you to take action, then nothing will.

But remember: true wealth isn’t just about accumulating money and possessions.

True wealth is also about having a fulfilling life, with meaningful relationships and experiences.

death and wealth shouldn't stop you from a happy life
Photo by Karsten Winegeart on Unsplash

And this is why it’s important to focus on living your life in reverse. And to prioritize your values and passions when setting your goals and building your wealth.

And don’t forget: death can be a powerful reminder to live in the present. And make the most of your time and resources.

By embracing this concept, you can create a more balanced and satisfying life (both financially and personally). And even if we know the end, the in-between is what makes it all worthwhile.

So, what are you waiting for?


More from thoughts.money

An Open Letter to My Future Son & Daughter

The FIRE Movement: From Dream to Reality

Health Equals Wealth (Not the Other Way Around)

Pavlos Written by:

Hey β€” It’s Pavlos. Just another human sharing my thoughts on all things money. Nothing more, nothing less.