Memento Mori – Remember Your Mortality



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Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift, that’s why it’s called the present!

Last week I shared a post on time, and this week I would like to follow it up with something I started back in late 2011 or early 2012.

As a quick reminder, we all get a daily deposit of 86,400 seconds a day to spend and invest however we choose. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from, you get the same exact deposit. You can’t buy more time. Once you use it, you lose it. Any unused balance is deleted from the ledger and the balance reset. There is no guarantee tomorrows deposit will come.

Memento mori (Latin ‘remember (that you have) to die’), or also memento mortis, “remember death,” is the Latin medieval designation of the theory and practice of the reflection on mortality, especially as a means of considering the vanity of earthly life and the transient nature of all earthly goods and pursuits. 


A few years ago I found a blog post from a former Special Forces vet that was talking about his Memento Mori Chart. He explained it as a grid that was 52 columns by 80 rows, with each row representing 52 weeks in a year. This was his way of making sure he didn’t take time for granted and a tool to put him back on course if he lost perspective.

Why 80 rows? For him, 80 years seemed like a reasonable age to live to and was close to the average lifespan.

So every Sunday he would mark a box and reflect on the week that passed by asking himself questions. Did I spend my time wisely? Is there anything I would have done differently? These and other questions would keep him grounded and living life to the fullest.

Intrigued? I was, so I started my own Memento Mori Chart.

Remember Your Mortality
Remember Your Mortality
Every Hour Wounds, The Last One Kills
Every Hour Wounds, The Last One Kills

Being the Finance geek that I am, I created my chart in Excel and added a few extras. The most notable changes that I made to the chart are the time stats to the right that break down the time I have been alive into years, months, weeks, days, hours, and seconds. I also added in a graphic related to health and fitness, because when I found this chart I had just embarked on a journey to get back in shape. I had found myself 50 lbs. overweight since graduating college. Soon I will be updating it with Vitality, Connection, & Contribution.

What you can’t see is that my chart is actually 52 x 100. This is because I would like to live to 100 years old, which I don’t think is beyond the realm of possibilities in today’s day and age. Obviously, there is no guarantee, but this is how I have chosen to set my chart up.

This post will be going live about a month after my birthday. But as you can see, as I write this I am approaching the final box in my 28th year. Each week I type an X into another week that has passed and I ask myself the following questions:

  1. Did I spend time with the people I love?
  2. Did I challenge myself?
  3. Did I waste any time worrying about stuff that doesn’t matter?
  4. Did I do things that made me happy?
  5. Is there anything I spent time on that I need to change?

Some weeks I reflect back and realize I wasted time on trivial issues. But most weeks I feel good about the way I spent and invested my time.

I know it may seem a bit morbid to keep track of your life like this. But it can also be liberating. Once you realize how little time you have on this earth, you appreciate time much more. You find the motivation to make changes in your life before it’s too late.

If anyone is interested in a copy of the chart I have created in Excel, click the “Download Now” link below.

Download Now

– Gen Y Finance Guy

Gen Y Finance Guy

Hey, I’m Dom - the man behind the cartoon. You’ll notice that I sign off as "Gen Y Finance Guy" on all my posts, due to the fact that I write this blog anonymously (at least for now). I like to think of myself as the Chief Freedom Officer here of my little corner of the internet. In the real world, I’m a former 30-something C-Suite executive turned entrepreneur turned capital allocator. I am trying to humanize finance by sharing my own journey to Financial Freedom. I believe in total honesty and transparency. That is why before I ever started blogging, I decided that I would share all of my own financial stats. I do this not to brag, but instead to inspire motivate, and also to hold myself accountable. My goal is to be a beacon of hope, motivation, and inspiration, for you, the reader, by living life by example and sharing it all here on the blog. My sincere hope is that you will be able to learn from me - both from my successes and my failures! Read More



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22 Responses

  1. Great post with an interesting take on what I call “R.O.T”. To me, return on time is quantitative and qualitative because you can measure it so many ways and with your own weights depending on what you value. Could you send me your excel file? I’d be interested in taking a look at it.

    1. Hey Adam,

      I will send you the excel file to your email you listed when you left a comment.


      1. Hey man,

        I like the idea of this as well, I’ve started doing a weekly review of goals & have found that it’s helped me to get really clear and clarify what is important and consciously review my time throughout the week ..

        Would you mind sending the file too?

        I know the horse may certainly have bolted haha; hope all is well too!

  2. A great way to remind yourself how precious everything is. I’m considering getting a tattoo that is related to memento mori and a copy of this template will also serve me well. If you could please send me the excel file I would be very grateful.


  3. Was worried I was late to the party, but I see you still check on this one from time to time. Would you mind sending the file to me. Thanks for putting in the leg-work!!

  4. Hey,

    I’ve kept track of my Memento Mori chart for some years but love your template. Would you email to me, please? Thanks!

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