Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Seize Life and Live It Now - Ribbon of Life Experiment

When I ran my Motivate Me workshops several years ago, there was an exercise I did that shocked many of the ladies sat in the audience.  It was an eye-opener for all of us and a simple visualisation of how we shouldn’t ‘wait for the right time’ before we follow our dreams or action our goals.
Try it for yourself:
Take a 100cm length of ribbon and a pair of scissors.
Now ask yourself the following question; “What is the estimated lifespan of an individual?”  When we did this exercise, my group decided that 80 years was about right.  The actual figure is 79 years so they were pretty close.  If you agree, cut 21cm off your ribbon and throw it away.
You now have a length of ribbon that is 79cm long, which if you are following my logic means we have 79 years of ribbon left, yes?  Stick with me
How old are you?  I was born in 1972 so if I add 79 years to this date, I get 2051.  As I’m 44 this year, I would cut 44cm off my ribbon.  That leaves me with 35cm left.

1972 ------------------------ (79 years life expectancy)--------------------------2051
Let’s think for a moment about our weekends, this might be when we set aside time for family, seeing friends and socialising.  We probably won’t be working on our targets over the weekend, and what about all the time we spend asleep?  To cover this, I would need to cut a third off my ribbon.
My 35cm length of ribbon is now 11cm long.  That equates to 11 years.  If I started cutting off all the time I spend eating, travelling and on holiday, I would probably be left with about 9cm of ribbon.

9cm!  That means I have approximately 9 years to achieve everything I want.  Scared yet?

Of course, this is based on the fact that I live to be 79 years old.  Anyone who has lost a loved one, especially someone who was young and had their entire life ahead of them, will understand that the final destination isn’t set in stone.
In truth, we don’t know how much time we have left.
If you do this exercise for yourself, or with friends, I urge you to keep the small portion of ribbon you have left to act as a reminder that life is getting shorter and today is the day to live your dreams, accomplish your goals and live your life to the full.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this so please leave me a comment in the box below.


  1. Oh gosh! This is my bed time reading! I might just have nightmares now Shelley! But seriously, I'm getting my hands on a piece of ribbon tomorrow. I'm having quite a disorganised month and I'm not happy about that! I'm being constantly bombarded with.... Stuff....life.... And a very long 'to do list'.

    1. Ha ha, it was a shock when I first heard about this exercise - it's a strong visual reminder to live your life to the full x

  2. Scary! I must switch off my PC and go and do something constructive!

    1. Let me know how that goes, Julia! Switching off the electronics is probably one of the hardest things for us to do these days. Small steps ;-)

  3. What a wonderfully simple way to explain such an important truth. And of course we all know people who died young, which makes the exercise even more poignant. It is so easy not to live life to the full - in fact, it's probably easier than making the most of it. I shall get my own piece of ribbon and keep it as a reminder.

    1. Thanks, Susanna. It is an eye-opening exercise that shocks quite a few people. Sometimes we need a visual reminder to give us that little kick. My 9cm of ribbon is attached to my noticeboard where I can see it every day.

  4. Have to say, not based on your ribbon, which is indeed a scary thing to visualize, I've always lived my life under the shadow of death...probably why I keep attempting daft stuff. Which will bring the end of it even closer!!!I am now working on the COLOUR of my ribbon. Got to get it right as I shall have it buried with me! Great blog!