A hourglass's sand turns from red into black as it counts down

Why Peter Attia Is Literally Counting the Days Until He Dies

His use of a life calendar is morbid, but effective

Longevity expert Peter Attia, M.D., posts near-daily content about healthy habits that can improve your health and lifespan. In a recent Instagram Reel, Attia introduces a more morbid approach to optimizing your years: a life calendar he uses to count how many years he likely has left until he dies.  

What is a Life Calendar?

The My Life in Weeks calendar by 4k Weeks is a chart with a series of small boxes. Each box corresponds to one week in a lifespan. Every box you fill in represents a year you’ve already lived. 

The life chart is available in three options. Attia uses the 88-year chart (pretty decent compared to the United States average male life expectancy of 74.5 years). But there’s also a 100-year “Extended” option and a 125-year “Ultra Optimist” version for those who are planning to stick around even longer. 

At the end of each week, Attia explains, he colors in one of the squares and watches in delight as his time ticks away. 

Why Attia Uses a Life Calendar

“When I look at [the life calendar], I really have a sense of urgency around what I’m doing. Am I making the best use of my time? Because if I’m not, and I squander weeks and weeks of this thing, it really wakes me up,” he says. “I have found this to be a very positive tool in my life.”

Attia also marks a few sobering weeks in red pen on the calendar: the exact weeks each of his three kids will go off to college. 

“I assume, having not been there yet but having spoken to parents and having imagined it myself, that’s a bittersweet week. Great that your kids are going to college, certainly beats the alternative in many cases, but also very sad,” he says. “It’s probably the last time you’ll live under the same roof as your kid, and it’s really when you’re letting go of that rope for good.”

He’s not the only longevity expert who uses a calendar to countdown to his impending and inevitable demise. In the comments of Attia’s post, Andrew Huberman, Ph.D., says that he also uses a My Life in Weeks calendar—except he’s given himself a generous 95 years until he’s cool with croaking.

“I consider this tool very life affirming,” Huberman writes. “Not anxiety provoking.”