How many times are you confronted with meaningful opportunity—in a day, a week, a month? Are you receptive to the signs, willing to pursue them, eager to take your best shot? Doing so may take you out of your comfort zone, may involve some risk, may expose you to criticism and/or failure, may initially sting.
But weigh the consequences of inaction, and you may well be confronted by mediocre work, by unsatisfying relationships, by an unforgiving calendar, by less money, by… by… by.
Often buried within the kaleidoscopic responsibilities that each of us must maintain to live on our 21st-century planet is the plain fact that our time here is ever brief. Given that, how can anyone reasonably choose to waste it? To be sure, an entire week spent by the ocean, sleeping late, eating just-caught seafood, making love, cellphone and sweat a world away, can be just as sustaining as a solid week of 16-hour office days. Ambition manifests itself in endless ways, yet it returns time and again to making the most of our gifts, our resources, our time.
Carl Hulse’s politics article last year in The New York Times, “A Jarring New Level of Confrontation and Conflict Hits Washington,” echoes the increasing sense of lost time and opportunity facing the nation and the world today:
Even after years of unbreakable gridlock and unyielding partisanship, it was a jarring new level of confrontation and conflict, and it was contributing to a building sense of crisis just as the new president was to disclose the identity of a new Supreme Court nominee — a selection certain to further inflame tensions.
Are you in your 20s or even 30s, thinking that you have plenty of time? That all those pending decisions can wait awhile? That what’s the difference, you’ll be fine? If that’s the case, then take just a moment to think about how a lack of preparation will manifest itself in your 50s and 60s…. Time flew by and what have you got? What have you done with the self-same life that decades earlier was taken blithely for granted?
Enough retirement money would, of course, be quite nice, but the equation transcends bank balances and 401(k) plans. Will you be able to look back with quiet satisfaction, secure in the firm knowledge that you made the most of the time with which you were graced?
Don’t let it all fly by. Take your best shot, then reap what you sow.