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Tomorrow May Never Come

Tomorrow May Never Come

Don’t let pressure and overwork encourage you to hurry past parts of your life. Whether it’s your children’s early life, whole segments of your marriage, or maybe the last active years of loved parents, they are swiftly past and gone beyond recall. Regret comes too late to save them. How many people still cherish an unfulfilled ambition to travel, or start their own business, or enter a new career, and yet do nothing to make it happen? Too many. Time passes. What was once an inspiring idea seems less and less feasible. Yet still they cling to the dream — only not this year. Maybe next year, when things calm down a little. When they’re not so busy. When they have the time.

We are so confused about time. We always have the same amount of it, since we can neither create more, nor save any for later, nor do away with what there is. Yet our perception of time is totally different. Sometimes it seems to drag in endless amounts. Sometimes it appears to flash past. Only our perception changes. Time itself does not.

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Of course, what we mean is time free from other demands. But we will never have that either. There are always other calls on our attention and always will be. If you’re waiting for that magical day when nothing else awaits you, only your dream ready for fulfillment, you will wait for ever.

The truth is simple. People confuse what is urgent with what is important; what is pressing today with what is pressing in terms of their whole life. A task stands before you and shouts for your attention because it’s here, now, and must be done by tomorrow. So you set aside far more important activities and choices because they’re not urgent. You can do them tomorrow, no matter. Only that tomorrow never comes.

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To live this way is understandable — it’s how the vast majority live — but it’s neither sensible nor fulfilling. All those unmet dreams and expectations build up, until you enter the later part of life trailing a vast, sad cloud of “might have beens.” So many people today are filled with regret at the opportunities they missed because there were more urgent claims at the time. As they look back, they see clearly those claims were never as important as the hopes they supplanted. Now it’s too late.

“There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.”

(William Shakespeare: Julius Caesar)

To choose a fulfilling path, you must be clear about your values, so you can see the difference between demands that are only urgent, but otherwise have little importance in the scheme of your life; and those that may lack obvious urgency, yet are crucial to who you are and what you want your life to be. You must have the courage to use your time on important matters and set aside what’s merely urgent.

If there’s a dream in your life — something you yearn to achieve, or merely something it would be so much fun to try — don’t put it aside. If that dream is up there at the top (or very near the top) of your personal values, do it now. Yes, now. Don’t wait another day. Nothing is as important to your long-term well being. But if your dream doesn’t make it to the top of your list, set it aside without regret. Like a pretty toy, it may be pleasant to look at, but it’s not important enough to give time to.

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Choice may not remove regret entirely — you may always wonder a little what it might have been like — but at least you’ll know you did choose. You didn’t look back later and realize you’d missed that boat without ever grasping it was ready to leave.

“The moving finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy piety nor wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a line,
Nor all thy tears wash out a word of it.”

(Edward Fitzgerald: The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam)

Adrian Savage is an Englishman and a retired business executive who lives in Tucson, Arizona. You can read his thoughts most days at Slow Leadership, the site for anyone who wants to bring back the taste, zest and satisfaction to leadership, and The Coyote Within.

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

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Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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