“I wake up each day with the firm conviction that I am nowhere near my full potential. ‘Greatness’ is a verb. These words came to me one morning in a flash of awareness and insight. I have miles to go before I sleep, and so I will spend my remaining years desperately looking to improve who I am from year to year.”
-Maurice Ashley, Chess Grandmaster
I recently realized there are many things I seem to think I’ll have time to do LATER.
Mental fantasies of a better, more productive tomorrow swirl in my head:
- “I used to love playing chess. I should start playing again, but I’m really busy right now. Oh well, I’m sure I’ll get more time LATER to do that. It’ll be great.”
- “I’d like to take a class on writing. Maybe SOMEDAY I’ll sign up for one at a local college so I can become a stronger writer.”
- “I need to improve at self-reflection. Journaling is a good way to reflect, but I’ve tried that before and got bored with it. I’m sure DOWN THE ROAD, I’ll develop the patience to begin journaling more routinely.”
But the time never comes. “LATER” never comes.
It’s as if I have convinced myself that I will someday reach a magical age when I will have excess free time. Perhaps I secretly believe that my body will evolve beyond needing to sleep every night or my job will only require me to work 10-20 hours per week.
Alas, the utopia of more free time has not arrived.
This isn’t merely procrastination. Procrastination is putting off something important in order to do something less important. Sometimes, I’m actually putting off something important to do something else important.
I just make the same tradeoffs every time.
For example, my reoccurring tradeoff is writing (creating) vs. reading (consuming). I absolutely LOVE to read. I caught fire for reading during my senior year of college, and that fire has continued to burn brighter every year. Yet, I also desire to write.
I don’t just want to CONSUME — I want to CREATE. Both are important and bring me fulfillment.
However, because reading is the easier of the two, I choose that option the vast majority of the time.
The pernicious problem is that I continue to trick myself into believing I will magically have more time to write LATER.
Only recently have I begun to realize that the time I have right now — this very moment — is the best and only time I have to accomplish anything I want to do. So although I wish I didn’t have to sleep so I could be productive 24/7, I know I have a limited number of hours to execute what I want in life.
Internal battle rages over how those hours will be spent.
One of my goals this year is to recognize my own short-sightedness in thinking “I will have time for _______ LATER.” If something is important enough to do, it’s important enough to do NOW.
What have you put off for too long? What do you aspire to CREATE?
*I later extended this article by writing a second post. You can find it here: You Are What You Do TODAY.