Thursday, December 6, 2012

Time and Tide Wait for No Man

Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, 'It might have been. –John Greenleaf Whittier

However beautiful the strategy you should occasionally look at the results.
Winston Churchill

When you are young, there is a wealth of time: time to spare, time to waste, time to figure it all out, time to love and be loved, time to grow in maturity and wisdom, time to make a difference in your world for goodness sake, for love’s sake, for God’s sake. “Tiiiiiime is on my side … yes it is!” (Sing it Jagger.) And it does feel that way, as with good fortune you have another 60+ years of living before you. The experience of the majority of older people, however, is that one night they went to sleep and when they woke it was 30 years later. Now, the heart is filled with should’ve, would’ve, could’ve.
It is a challenge to explain to young people that, no, opportunities for giving and receiving love, for growth, for making a difference, and for profit are not like doors that will always be opened when you want to walk through them. In fact, most doors have an open-by date stamped on them.
As I have been facing turning 60 years old this month, a sentence keeps rolling around in my soul: Time and Tide Wait for No Man. My guess is that this is a succinct summary of the words of Brutus, in Shakespeare’s, Julius Caesar.

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.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,

Or lose our ventures.

Life only presents us with so many outgoing tides of opportunity: in some contexts, only one. The key is to pay attention to the tides and currents presented to you and then jump in before it heads out. Or you can be bound in shallows and miseries for years to come. It’s your choice.

Making the Most of Every Moment
Your future is being created by what you are doing or not doing, today. Futures don’t fall out of the sky but are determined by your present actions and inactions.            
Business and career conflicts, health problems, financial crisis, and relational breakdowns didn’t just happen : they were set in motion by what you were doing months or even years ago. Sure, there was a very sincere desire to go in a different direction, and goals were even written and beautiful strategies designed. But while you were looking toward one future, your behaviors were taking you toward another.
            What does your desired future look like 5 and 10 years from now? Okay. Ask yourself what choices and behaviors today will take me in that direction? And remember that taking the tack that you have plenty of time to get to this or that important goal or issue will generate specific behaviors today that are creating a future that may make it difficult-to-impossible to successfully address what you put off until you can get around to it. 

Procrastination is Your Enemy
            The tide is going out. Jump in. Now. “I want to but I’m just not certain.” That’s the mindset that produces procrastination that, in turn, results in diminishing possibilities for your future. Of course, we turn around and blame God or fate. “I wasn’t certain about that opportunity-tide. (That’s why it is called “faith.”) While I was waiting for wisdom all these tides went out so that I was only left with one choice. It was obviously God’s will (or fate) that I not take the current.” Right. You choose to not take the tide when it was going out to sea and it is God’s will you’re still standing on the shore not making a difference in your world … or alone … or broke … or unhealthy. Cue God rolling His eyes.
            Whatever the future that you want is, you must start behaving your way toward it. Look at what you are doing this week in light of 30 years from now. What you are doing and not doing is taking you somewhere. Now, without saying to yourself that, “I will start doing such-and-such next week or next year,” where are this week’s behaviors going to have you in 30 years? No cheating. Using this week’s actions alone, play the movie all the way out in every context of your life. This is the future you are creating.

How’s it looking?

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2012 

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