Yesterday is ashes; tomorrow wood. Only today does the fire burn brightly. – Eskimo proverb
In today’s modern world, it is not uncommon for people to live in the mindset of “later” for things, experiences or opportunities. “Once I am ready to retire, I will cash in those vacation hours at work” … “Next weekend I will make up that time with the kids/spouse/friends/etc” … “Once I lose 10lbs I will be happy/splurge on some item/etc” … “When my bank account gets to XX amount of dollars, I will then prioritize having more fun”.
These are not all encompassing, but just some examples of putting off joy/happiness for a later date, contingent upon some OTHER scenario. I implore everyone to evaluate the priorities in your life, and to see if you’re doing this in any area.
Some ways to identify if you might be “postponing” that joy, and possible reasons why:
1. You feel guilt or regret. – Perhaps you put off time with family/friends and it makes you feel guilty…that is a little tiny barometer that helps you see that this might need to be taken into consideration. If that person left the world tomorrow – would you feel like you had spent the time, said the words, or done enough? We will always have grief with the loss of a loved one, but it doesn’t need to be tinged with guilt or remorse for things we can take control of now. Perhaps you skipped an experience that doesn’t come up every day (like that chance to go skydiving, or a last minute trip to somewhere exciting), would you feel regret and kick yourself for not taking advantage of the opportunity that presented itself?
2. You find yourself starting and stopping things, but not seeing them through to completion. – Sometimes we unconsciously set our own stumbling blocks, because we either, 1. don’t believe we are worthy of it or 2. don’t think we are capable or are afraid of what it would feel like to be successful in that area. It’s easy to say “Once I achieve X, then I will Y”… because we know in our secret places, that we will never actually TRY to achieve X, therefore we don’t have to be responsible for Y.
This thought process can be seen when someone wants to do something like “lose weight” or perhaps pursue a new/different career.
3. The logical side combats with the inner dialogue. – In the example of “I will cash in those vacation hours when I retire” this goes against many companies policy, which says there are only a certain amount of hours which can be carried over each year. Also, if we were to list out reasonable, logical thoughts, we could say that you EARNED those hours, and you also need that time off for your own mental, emotional and physical well-being. The hoarding of those hours doesn’t serve anyone, and in reality, likely either causes you to miss out on experiences and chances to deepen relationships, OR causes resentment, irritability, and stress/fatigue.
Postponing things that are good, joyful or meaningful to you serves no purpose. I am in no way advocating for irresponsible or reckless behavior (such as over spending, not working out, etc), but rather I am asking you to reflect on what truly matters in your life. What are you putting off that you might never actually get the chance to do again? What would it MEAN to you, if you never took that shot at greatness, never told that person you loved them/were sorry/missed them/appreciated them? How would your life, and those you care for, possibly be better (or worse) if you did/did not take action today? It’s never too late to start, so go forward without fear and pursue your own happiness.