If Not Now, When?

Nothing concentrates the mind more than reading about oneself in the past tense.—Christopher Hitchens

I wasn’t there that morning when my father passed away
I didn’t get to tell him all the things I had to say
“The Living Years” (Mike + The Mechanics, 1988)

The doctor’s expression is mixed. The diagnosis means one of two things: you will live well into old age or you have a few months.

Now what? What happens to your perception of time, your sense of urgency? How does your calendar suddenly shift?

When we know that an experience will end, we view it differently than those that have no expiration. The amusement park ride is thrilling, but we know that the curve just ahead is the last. The studious days of college end at graduation. Even if the end of a course or an era is sad, we can prepare for it and say goodbye in our own way.

Human life has an expiration, of course, but we can fall into the “someday” trap, putting off the things we yearn to experience until “the time is right.” The road trip you want to take. The person you want to approach. The sensory experience you want to try. The conversation you want to have. The transformation or reinvention you want to embody.

What’s stopping you? If you are putting it off for “someday,” remember that THIS day is as valid as some day. The calendar doesn’t include Someday.

This doesn’t mean never planning for the future. Delayed gratification has its benefits—yes, you can put aside money for retirement. You can work toward a goal that won’t bring results until later. There are times when judicious planning makes more sense than leaping on impulse. There are other times when leaping is imperative. How do we find a balance between the two?

It seems that when the only person affected by a decision is yourself, the landscape opens. Take the plunge now, or wait until next month—it’s your choice, and only you will reap the benefits (or dangers) of your actions. When others are involved, we find that the timeline is condensed. Relationships can run their course; they can fade or end abruptly, and the window of opportunity with that person is gone.

Is your great adventure—or your painful but necessary conversation—something that you still want to put off, or is it moving into the “no more postponing” column?

Ask yourself the hard questions. Test your assumptions. Pull your beliefs and rationalizations off the shelf, dust them off, and take a long look at them. Talk to the parts of yourself that are saying “not yet.” Seek the advice of a trusted ally or life coach. Know that your intuition knows when it’s best to wait and when it’s time to jump.

In the words of the poet Mary Oliver, “What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

Lori Stephens, pNLP, CCP is a writer, editor, publisher, Certified NLP Practitioner, Whole Person Life Coach, and the founder of ROAR Life Coaching. She specializes in Exit Strategy Coaching—helping people who are ready to quit a soul-crushing job, walk away from a toxic relationship, exit a repressive social or religious group, come out as their true sexual or gender orientation, or in some other way claim their true path. She can be reached at roarlifecoaching@gmail.com.

Photo credit: Aron on Unsplash

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