Do you find yourself looking back and wishing you had done things differently?
Do you wish you had cultivated the reading habit as a child so you'd be a better-read person today? Do you wish you had played a sport and stayed with it beyond college, so you would be a fitter person today? Do you wish you had gone easy on sweets and on food so you wouldn't be an obese diabetic today? Do you wish you had told your parents and your spouse and your kids how much you loved them?
Or are you the kind of person who constantly sees things changing in the future? I will give up sweets - after Diwali. Or, once we finish the Annual Business Plans, I will spend more time with the family. Or once I have that magic number in my bank account, I will quit and do what I have always wanted to.
Well, in either case, it might be good to remember the wisdom contained in an old Chinese proverb: "The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now!"
The second best time is indeed now. The best time might appear to be yesterday - or tomorrow - but now is a terrific second-best - and it's up to us to make the most of now!
Business gurus and spiritual leaders have all talked about the power of now. The power of living in the present - versus the futility of living in a past that's gone - or dreaming of an imaginary future!
Often, our excuse for not taking action is either that the best time has passed - or is still to come. And our quest for the 'right time' helps mask our lethargy, and fuels our tendency to procrastinate.
Success comes to those who live in the present, who seize the moment. What's gone is gone - so no point living in regret. And the future? Well, as the saying goes, tomorrow never comes.
So whatever it is that you wish to do, do it today. Now. Make use of the second best time. Remember, it's never too late to become what you might have been.
Want to learn a new skill? Start today. Want to lose weight? Start that 45 minute daily walk - today! Want to have better relationships? Reach out and hug your loved ones - today. Whatever it is you want, make a beginning. Today.
Today is the tomorrow you thought of yesterday. Today is the yesterday you will look back longingly at - tomorrow. This might sound somewhat philosophical, but it's for real! When you start living in the present, that's when you unleash the power that's inside you.
As the Nike guys have been urging an entire generation, 'Just do it'. Right now!
And sure enough, twenty years from today, you'll be glad you planted that tree!