What does the “death clock” mean to you?

For some it’s depressing; for others, it’s a powerful call to action.

It was featured recently in a New York Times article entitled “The TickTock of the Death Clock” written by Steven Petrow, an author and former editor now in his mid-fifties. The death clock exercise helped him put his life in perspective and led him to make some radical changes for the better in his life.

Steven Petrow---discovered a new zest for living.

Steven Petrow—discovered a new zest for living.

When he first learned that he probably only had another 18 years to live, he was troubled. But then, after lots of thinking, he decided to make some changes that has resulted in a joy of living that never existed before. After quickly deciding to quit his full-time job, this is what he was thinking:

I’ve got only one life to live, and if I don’t do it now, when? I couldn’t sleep the next few nights, the loud echoes of my naysayers circling through my head. But over the weeks that followed, things began to shift. I started to get new assignments and finished up a book proposal. I’d get up at 5 a.m. as excited as a kid on Christmas morning. I felt a new sense of ownership, joy and meaning to my days. This wasn’t my work, it was my life. And I didn’t just like it – I loved it.

Of course, I know I won’t spend the rest of my days in this state of euphoria. I will struggle with blank pages and intermittent paychecks. But I will appreciate each day more.

You can find the Death Clock at deathclock.com

You can find the Death Clock at deathclock.com

More on the Death Clock. It takes less than a minute for the online Death Clock (link below) to project the exact date that you will likely die—along with how many seconds you have left to live. It computes both based on the following:

  • Your sex and current age
  • Your BMI
  • Your smoking status
  • Your general outlook on life

In my case, I learned that even though I am much older than Petrow, I am expected to live nine years longer than his projected 18. To be exact, the clock projected that I would meet the grim reaper on the day after Christmas in the year 2040—at the ripe old age of 95. Happy Holidays to me!

The clock projected that I have well over 800 million seconds remaining—and even features a count-down digital clock, showing those precious seconds ticking away. After doing the exercise, like Petrow, I chose to look on the bright side and use the information to motivate me to do much more with the time that I have remaining.

Feeling GREAT at 68

Feeling GREAT at 68. The Death Clock didn’t ask about diet, and I know that might give me a few extra years.

The Bottom Line. Lying in bed a few nights ago, I was thinking that I probably only have around ten or fifteen solid work years left. That would put me at 83.

And although I expect to get a lot done between 83 and 95, it has been my observation that the elderly are simply not taken that seriously after a certain age. Sad, but true.

So as I lay there, I decided that I needed to accelerate my pace on three things: my public speaking career, my corporate wellness business, and my grand plan for helping to facilitate an “asteroid” type of global project to prevent the collapse of our civilization before the end of this century. Why would I think that I can make a difference on something that important? Two reasons:

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. — Margaret Mead

People who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world—are the ones who do. — Steve Jobs

I will leave you with two questions. How many years do you have left? What are you going to do with those years?

If everyone in the world ate the we do in the USA, we'd need two planet Earths to feed us all. We only have one and she's in trouble.

If everyone in the world ate the we do in the USA, we’d need two planet Earths to feed us all. We only have one and she’s in trouble.

Want to help spread the word? Call me at 917-399-9700 if you’d like me to speak at your venue. That’s one thing that you can do to help our “small group of thoughtful, committed citizens” accomplish the audacious goal of ensuring the longterm sustainability of our species.

Not sure about the possible collapse of our civilization? You might want to read Lester Brown’s new book, Full Planet, Empty Plates. Here’s an excerpt:

While the decline of early civilizations can be traced to one or possibly two environmental trends such as deforestation and soil erosion that undermined their food supply, we are now dealing with several. In addition to some of the most severe soil erosion in human history, we are also facing newer trends such as the depletion of aquifers, the plateauing of grain yields in the more agriculturally advanced countries, and rising temperature.

Handy 5-piece take-charge-of-your-health kit—from Amazon.com

Want to find out how healthy your family is eating? Take our free 4Leaf Survey. It takes less than five minutes and you can score it yourself. After taking the survey, please give me your feedback as it will be helpful in the development of our future 4Leaf app for smartphones. Send feedback to jmorrishicks@me.com

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J. Morris Hicks, working daily to promote health, hope and harmony on planet Earth.

To order more of my favorite books—visit our online BookStore now

For help in your own quest to take charge of your health, visit our 4Leaf page and also enjoy some great recipes from Lisa’s 4Leaf Kitchen.

Got a question? Let me hear from you at jmorrishicks@me.com. Or give me a call on my cell at 917-399-9700.

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—J. Morris Hicks, board member, T. Colin Campbell Foundation

About J. Morris Hicks

A former strategic management consultant and senior corporate executive with Ralph Lauren in New York, J. Morris Hicks has always focused on the "big picture" when analyzing any issue. In 2002, after becoming curious about our "optimal diet," he began a study of what we eat from a global perspective ---- discovering many startling issues and opportunities along the way. In addition to an MBA and a BS in Industrial Engineering, he holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, where he has also been a member of the board of directors since 2012. Having concluded that our food choices hold the key to the sustainability of our civilization, he has made this his #1 priority---exploring all avenues for influencing humans everywhere to move back to the natural plant-based diet for our species.
This entry was posted in Activism & Leadership, Happiness, Sustainability. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to What does the “death clock” mean to you?

  1. ibelieveinauburn says:

    I get 2036. I’m 53 now so that makes me 74 in 2036. I changed my mode from normal to optimistic and got an additional 11 years or 85. Time for some optimism!!!! Life is good!!!!! How long do I have to keep this up? Lol.

  2. I get different answers when just re-clicking “Calculate . . “

  3. Sal Liggieri says:


    Age: 87

    I checked the Death Clock: Goodbye, world, I have already expired.

    Sal Liggieri

  4. Sal Liggieri says:

    From your blog:

    And although I expect to get a lot done between 83 and 95, it has been my observation that the elderly are simply not taken that seriously after a certain age. Sad, but true.

    Jim, that is my biggest gripe about getting old. No one seems to care what I know, what I think. In a mixed group of family and friends, I always feel as if I’m invisible.

    That is probably why my message about WFPB diet falls upon deaf ears. People will listen to their peer group but ignore the wisdom of their elders.

    Sal Liggieri

  5. Bernadine T. Shea says:

    Jim, How very interesting!!!!! I checked out the deathclock and it gave me another 35 years. 🙂
    I’ll share that with my cardiologist Thursday when we discuss my options for dealing with
    aortic stenosis. Thanks for putting a smile on my face!

    • Leo S. says:

      You might find the following video by Dr. Ornish helpful. Maybe you also can reverse your aortic stenosis. The Ornish and Pritikin programs are now covered by Medicare, since 2010. Wishing you a healthy and long life.

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