Today was a typical day at the office. There is a challenging task ahead of me, a pile of work on the desk, an application to be put together and several meetings to attend.

At home it’s the same story: there are several backlogs of articles needing to be written, stuff to do to catch up on “life,” friends to visit, and a side project that I’ve been letting slide for quite a few months. Tonight I hesitated when pulling up the document on my computer, dreading the task of “more” work in the wee hours of the night, even though in the long run I really am excited about my project.

I sat against the kitchen counter, drinking a glass of water and staring off into space. I usually close up early and head to bed, putting the project off “until tomorrow.”

But a trusty quote I haven’t heard in a while popped in my head as a reminder to get started:

If not now, then when?
If not you, then who?

We hear all the time, “Don’t ‘should’ all over yourself,” “Stop putting pressure on yourself to do more,” and “You already have everything that you need.” These quotes are reliable motivators that help us get through the week, to take the pressure off our backs, and to let us breathe, relax, and enjoy the spaces between deadlines and dreams.  I am a huge advocate for a balanced life and taking a break from work. In many cases, these mantras help us get more work done by reducing our stress load and increasing our productivity.

Some days, however, we need to kick it up a notch. Remind ourselves of what we want to accomplish and what our long-term goals are. On these days, I hear my old varsity coach in my ear, whispering:

If not NOW, then WHEN?

If you’re not going to start now, when will you start? If your dream is a tomorrow dream, when does today become tomorrow? When does “when” become right now? If you wait until the time is right, you may never start. Get up behind the starting blocks, get into the grind, and dedicate right now to your dreams.

There are huge, daunting, terrifying tasks and goals we have, and sometimes we put them on the back burner because of insecurities, fears, or worries we have – about our capabilities, about our dreams, about failing, about being able to live up to the people that we want to be. There’s a safety in staying put, in living the status quo, and being who we are today – because it’s familiar and comfortable.

The other unfortunate thing about putting our dreams on hold is that too often we see people who have done or are doing what we’ve dreamed of – and we think to ourselves, man, I wanted to do that.  Maybe you had a brilliant idea for reorganizing search engine capabilities (google) or setting up a social networking site (facebook) or making an application for organizing data better, or creating a franchise of corner coffee shops (starbucks, peet’s, etc). And maybe someone has already done it. Maybe multiple people have done it. And again I hear my coach saying to me:

If not YOU, then WHO?

If you don’t do it, someone else probably will. Everyone has a mix of opportunities, challenges, and setbacks that present themselves to us on any given day. The people who make it look easy have put in the hard work, day in and day out, and figured it out. The perfect scenario doesn’t exist, and if you’re waiting for it, you may be waiting in vain. If it’s not you, then it may be someone else.

Make it you.