How To Prevent Your Next Heart Attack


During a bike ride last week I was listening to a Tim Ferris interview of Kevin Kelly, the co-founder of WIRED magazine.  Tim is a little smitten with Mr. Kelly, and rightly so.  In fact, he has declared that Kevin Kelly might be the real-life Most Interesting Man in The World.  Listen to the interview(s) and you might agree.

Mr. Impatient and Irreverent

Where am I going with this and how is it related to preventing a heart attack?  At about the 34 minute mark of Part 1, Tim asks Mr. Kelly for advice in regards to optimizing the rest of his life. Mr. Kelly offers some guidance for practically reinventing yourself.  It’s not going to happen over night, so don’t feel impatient.

The advice to not feel impatient struck a chord with me.  Prior to my own death, impatience defined my approach to life.  My attitude towards my own health is a good example.  I knew I needed to quit smoking, exercise, eat better, etc.  The task just seemed too large.  I was stressed out about my unhealthiness, but I lacked the patience to make a plan for change.  The ability to make slow and steady progress towards a goal was not in my DNA.  If it couldn’t happen over night, I would just accept my doomed fate and carry on!

Not a solid approach to managing ones life, but it defined me.  Not only was I impatient, I was irreverent about my life. It could be health, school, work, or even relationships. Big things intimidated me, so I just put my head down and waited to see what would happen.  Even after my heart attack, I didn’t feel changed. I was grateful, but I wasn’t making a plan for the rest of my life.

Back to Mr. Kelly.  About 15 years ago, he had a revelation.  He was going to live his life as if he only had six months left.  The complete story is detailed on a very early episode of This American Life.  He thought is would be a series of high risk flings.  Instead, he spent his time visiting family and taking a bicycle trip across the country.  Family time and a challenge filled with quiet discovery.

Bringing Back Planning

As the interview progresses, Mr. Kelly refers to his friend, Stuart Brand.  Mr. Brand is another interesting guy and is best known for his early role as the editor of the Whole Earth Catalog.  Honestly, I had never heard of Mr. Brand or his catalog.  What struck me was the discussion on making plans for your life in 5-year chunks or “projects”

The more time you spend contemplating what you should have done… you lose valuable time planning what you can and will do. – Lil Wayne

You see, Mr. Brand wants to make long-term thinking sexy again.  Did I mention that back in the 1960’s Mr. Brand was one of Ken Kesey’s original LSD fueled Merry Pranksters?  Anyhow, he might be on to something with the five-year plans.  Basically, he believes five years is about the amount of time it takes to identify and execute any meaningful project in your life.

So let’s see, I am an almost 50 year male who survived a cardiac arrest and heart attack and am now living with advanced cardiovascular disease.  How many projects do I have left?

I don’t think of this question in a morbid sense.  I have a second chance. This is my opportunity to plan and hopefully accomplish a few meaningful things with the rest of my life.

So what are my projects (I consider these goals)?  I have one overarching goal right now:  Start an online business.  Over the next week or so, I intend to write out a five-year plan to help me accomplish this goal.

I wanted to share my plan, but I need to learn patience and think through this.  More to come.

Share your five-year plans below.

Photo credit: stargardener / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)