Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Horizons of time

Last week, I got introduced to an idea called Horizons of Time. It's an explanation for the ways we human beings deal with the future at different ages. Toddlers, for example, have about a 2-minute tolerance for the future. A 5-year-old can go for a few more minutes. But they pretty much want everything now.

When we're 9 or 10, we can think out a few months, like to summer camp or a vacation. In our teens we can go further, like a year, anticipating what we'll do after high school or planning for next year's summer job this summer. In our 20s and 30s, we can plan out a few years, begin thinking of saving towards a wedding or buying a house or maybe planning a graduate program and the job after that.

Then as we enter middle age, our horizons really broaden. We think about our own long-term future, through our working lives and into retirement. We start to plan for our health, our well-being, our finances, and those of our descendants and our planet.

This makes a lot of sense to me. It helps explain why I had no sense for saving or investing when I was in my 20s and 30s. Oh, I could save for a trip and I lived pretty much within my means, but I didn't put money away for the bigger horizon, not really until I hit 50. Pretty late in the game.

I also realized that I am still mostly spending as toddler: I want it and I want it now. In fact, I need it, whatever it is, and I need it now. I also often eat this way. Who's in charge here?

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