It was reported last week that an Englishman whose ambition was to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest point in Africa, before he turned 70, achieved his goal, only to die shortly after sending his wife a text from the summit. Alistair Cook suffered a heart attack as he descended and his final message to his wife read ‘Reached the summit at 09:50, feel exhausted but so happy'.
This story begs the questions: Is it ever too late to realise our dreams? Is there any time limit? Do we have to wait for retirement when we may be less fit than we are now, or when we have lost drive and motivation as our energy levels eventually fall?
Your dream could be scuba diving with dolphins, studying for an MBA from MIT, opening your own business, building your own house, buying a Harley bike, going on safari, mentoring others to pass on your skills to the next generation — or maybe just to lie on the beach in Florida on the Gulf of Mexico. The reality is, however, that many of us never see that dolphin, because we just let the days tick by and we lose our focus and direction. And then, for many reasons, it is often too late. The time for personal action is now. Today is real. Tomorrow is never here.
My own stress
I remember telling my publisher, LexisNexis, when finishing my first book Tolley's Managing Stress in the Workplace that it would be my first and last as I had found the whole experience very stressful — the irony being that the book was about stress management! However, five years later, my third book Show Stress Who's Boss! will be published this month. The point being that in each of us, our goal posts move with time and it is important that we are open to these changes.
So why not take a minute, now, and write down three things you really want to do after your own children leave home for university and your hair goes grey? What dreams do you have when you finally have the time and space?
Don't forget that we human beings love to procrastinate. In life, there are many wakeup calls. It is only when we hear of someone dying at a young age, that we stop for a moment and note that it puts our own life into perspective and we should resolve to live every day as if it were our last. But in reality, this thought is transient, and soon we revert back to our old ways again.
So don't let life pass you by as you sit in front of a computer screen. Don't let stress get in the way of your creativity and innovation. When you can't ‘see the wood for the trees', then maybe this is the time to reassess where you are and what you are doing.
Sometimes, you can do this alone and at other times you may need a neutral, objective person who will listen to you — someone who is totally there for you, to help look at how you manage your daily activities, your family life, your work life and your aspirations. This person will hold you accountable for what it is that you want to do. When you tell someone else that you are going to take a specific action, then you start to become accountable.
When you have idea that is only inside your head, it is easy to put it to one side. The first step is to write down what it is that you want to do, to experience, where you want to go, what you want to achieve, who you want to meet.
Writing it down converts it from just a thought to an ‘action needed'.
Stick the note on the wall, by your bed, in the kitchen, on the TV. Wherever it will remind you that if you want something badly enough, you must take some action to get it started.
Try now! Find the pencil and start writing. And I will meet you on the beach in Florida or maybe in the Bismarck Hut on the way up to the snows of Kilimanjaro.
The author is a BBC guest-broadcaster and motivational speaker. She is CEO of an international stress management and employee wellbeing consultancy based in London. Contact them for proven stress strategies — www.carolespiersgroup.co.uk
- There is no time-limit on dreams.
- Today is here. Tomorrow is always yet to come.
- Write your dream down and commit to it!