10 Overrated Life Decisions


Prolonging Life at All Cost

Doctors prepare to insert a tube in a patient's chest. Should doctors extend patients' lives at all cost? muratseyit/E+/Thinkstock
Doctors prepare to insert a tube in a patient's chest. Should doctors extend patients' lives at all cost? muratseyit/E+/Thinkstock

Physicians and surgeons working in America's hospitals have access to cutting-edge procedures that can prolong the lives of patients living with chronic diseases. But they don't necessarily want them for themselves.

According to a Johns Hopkins University study of older physicians, 90 percent would not want CPR if they were in a coma. Only 25 percent of the public gives the same answer [source: Cohen]. Doctors know that the odds of recovering from "successful" CPR are extremely low, but the odds of broken ribs and increased pain are very high [source: Murray].

In private, many doctors are intensely troubled by the "anything and everything" approach to saving lives [source: Murray]. What's the point of extending a life for a few short months if it means living in an intensive care unit connected to dozens of tubes and numbed to unconsciousness by pain medication?

And then there's the cost. A full quarter of all Medicare spending pays for hospitals stays and procedures for 5 percent of people in their last year of life. And then there's everything that Medicare doesn't cover. An American couple can expect to spend more than $50,000 in out-of-pocket medical costs in the last five years of life [source: Wang]. Some procedures greatly improve and extend quality of life, but not all.

The best advice is to put end-of-life directives in writing, whether we want every possible medical procedure to prolong life, or to die peacefully without being recesisiated or put on life support.

Author's Note: 10 Overrated Life Decisions

Having made eight out of the ten major life decisions on this list, I feel like I can speak with some confidence about the relative value of each. First, I should say that I don't regret a single major life decision so far. I went to college, got married relatively young, have three amazing kids and a mortgage. All of them have worked out wonderfully. And the ones that didn't work out as wonderfully — climbing the corporate ladder, relocating for a new job — I chalk up to valuable learning experiences. As my editor explained, the point of this article is not to slam anyone's decision to get married or retire, but to point out the pros and cons of each, and encourage readers to think hard about some of life's most potentially "life-changing" choices. In The Game of LIFE, you can always clear the board and start over. In real life, you have to live with your decisions, good or bad.

Related Articles


  • Broad, William J. "How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body." The New York Times. Jan. 5, 2012 (April 5, 2013) http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/08/magazine/how-yoga-can-wreck-your-body.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&
  • Cohen, Erica. "Doctors die differently than their patients." Philly.com. Jan. 16, 2013 (April 5, 2013) http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/fieldclinic/Doctors-die-differently-than-their-patients.html
  • Collier Cool, Lisa. "Running May Be Harmful to Your Heart." Yahoo! Health. Nov. 30, 2012 (April 5, 2013) http://health.yahoo.net/experts/dayinhealth/running-may-be-harmful-your-heart
  • Ellis, Blake. "Average student loan debt nears $27,000." CNN Money. October 18, 2012 (April 5, 2013) http://money.cnn.com/2012/10/18/pf/college/student-loan-debt/index.html
  • Fijolek McKain, Laura. "Is it normal not to want sex after having a baby?" BabyCenter (April 9, 2013) http://business.time.com/2012/12/03/is-it-better-to-rent-or-to-buy/
  • Goodreau, Jenna. "The 10 Worst College Majors." Forbes. Oct. 11, 2012 (April 11, 2013) http://www.forbes.com/sites/jennagoudreau/2012/10/11/the-10-worst-college-majors/
  • Grabmeier, Jeff. "Divorce Drops a Person's Wealth by 77 Percent, Study Finds." The Ohio State University. Jan. 17, 2006 (April 5, 2013) http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/divwlth.htm
  • Hind, John. "Twenty other reasons not to have a baby." The Observer. Feb. 7, 2009 (April 5, 2013) http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2009/feb/08/motherhood-children-babies2
  • Jacobson, Louis. "Occupy Wall Street protestor's sign says 94 percent of deeper-pocketed candidates win." Politifact. Oct. 17, 2011 (April 5, 2013) http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2011/oct/17/occupy-wall-street/occupy-wall-street-protesters-sign-says-94-percent/
  • Kiger, Patrick. "7 Jobs with Mandatory Retirement." SecondAct. March 14, 2012 (April 11, 2013) http://www.secondact.com/2012/03/federal-law-prohibits-mandatory-retirement--or-maybe-not/
  • Levin-Epstein, Amy. "Don't Move! 5 Reasons Not to Relocate for a Job." CBS MoneyWatch. Aug. 27, 2012 (April 5, 2013) http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505125_162-57500920/dont-move-5-reasons-not-to-relocate-for-a-job/
  • Maag, Christopher. "5 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Buy a House Right Now." Credit.com. Sept. 7, 2012 (April 5, 2013) http://www.dailyfinance.com/2012/09/07/buying-a-home-5-reasons-not-to-right-now/
  • Mangu-Ward, Katherine. "Your Vote Doesn't Count." Reason. Nov. 2012 (April 5, 2013) http://reason.com/archives/2012/10/03/your-vote-doesnt-count
  • Martin, Ray. "401(k) Accounts Hit Record High: Is Yours Enough?" CBS MoneyWatch. February 15, 2013 (April 11, 2013) http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-500395_162-57569677/401-k-accounts-hit-record-high-is-yours-enough/
  • Moeller, Philip. "6 Reasons Why You Should Never Retire." U.S. News & World Report. March 14, 2012 (April 5, 2013) http://finance.yahoo.com/news/6-reasons-why-never-retire-164549581.html
  • Murray, Ken. "How Doctors Die." The Saturday Evening Post. March/April 2013 (April 5, 2013) http://www.saturdayeveningpost.com/2013/03/06/in-the-magazine/health-in-the-magazine/how-doctors-die.html
  • National Center for Education Statistics. "Tuition Costs of Colleges and Universities" (April 5, 2013) http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=76
  • Parker-Pope, Tara. "Is Marriage Good for Your Health?" The New York Times. April 14, 2010 (April 5, 2013) http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/18/magazine/18marriage-t.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
  • Pierce, Sarah. "Leaving the Rat Race." Entrepreneur. May 21, 2008 (April 5, 2013) http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/194026
  • Resmovits, Joy. "College Dropout Crisis Revealed in 'American Dream 2.0' Report." The Huffington Post. Jan 24, 2013 (April 5, 2013) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/24/college-dropout-crisis-american-dream-20_n_2538311.html
  • Roth, J.D. "Is It Better to Rent or to Buy?" Time. December 3, 2012 (April 9, 2013) http://business.time.com/2012/12/03/is-it-better-to-rent-or-to-buy/
  • Smith, Jacquelyn. "20 Question You Should Ask Yourself Before You Relocate for a Job." Forbes. June 21, 2012 (April 5, 2013) http://www.forbes.com/sites/jacquelynsmith/2012/06/21/is-relocating-for-a-job-the-right-decision-for-you/2/
  • Taha, Nadia. "Opting Out of Parenthood, With Finances in Mind." The New York Times. Nov. 13, 2012 (April 5, 2013) http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/14/your-money/opting-out-of-parenthood-with-finances-in-mind.html?pagewanted=all
  • Tahmincioglu, Eve. "Climb the corporate ladder? No, thank you." MSNBC. Jan. 15, 2007 (April 5, 2013) http://www.nbcnews.com/id/16486999/%23.UV3vWKs-t4F
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture. "Expenditures on Children by Families, 2011." June 2012 (April 5, 2013) http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/Publications/CRC/crc2011.pdf
  • U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. "Age Discrimination in Employment Amendments of 1986" (April 11, 2013) http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/history/35th/thelaw/adea_amendments_1986.html
  • Wang, Penelope. "Cutting the high cost of end-of-life care." CNN Money. December 12, 2012 (April 11, 2013) http://money.cnn.com/2012/12/11/pf/end-of-life-care-duplicate-2.moneymag/index.html
  • Williams, Alex. "Saying No to College." The New York Times. November 30, 2012 (April 5, 2013) http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/02/fashion/saying-no-to-college.html?smid=fb-share


The Pros and Cons of Coworking Spaces

The Pros and Cons of Coworking Spaces

HowStuffWorks looks at the pros and cons of coworking spaces.