If not Now, When? (Challenge #5): How to Stop Your Dreams from becoming Regrets

“The time to act is now. The time to come alive is now. The time to begin turning your dreams into reality is now. There is, after all, no other time available to you but now.” ~kenwert

Most of us have unfulfilled dreams. We impotently fantasize about doing something or going somewhere or becoming someone. Our dreams remain merely dreams that eventually turn into the sting of regret.


Why do we long for something and then deny ourselves the thing our hearts and souls long to do or see or become?

You don’t have to Eat the Whole Elephant in One Bite

Even if the passion that stirs your soul lies beyond what you are prepared or able to do right now, there are steps, half-way kinds of activities and bottom-rung-of-ladder actions that can prepare you and take you closer to your heart’s desire.

We all have these bucket lists, hopes of one day doing what we’ve longed to do and for one reason or another have put it off. Some things need to be put off. Marathons should be trained for. Performing surgery should be delayed until there’s a pretty good shot at keeping the patient alive on the operating table.

But at other times, we put things off for unworthy reasons, out of fear or laziness or habit. We long for something but never take the requisite steps to get the thing we long for. We dream, but leave the dreams dangling in our thoughts as disembodies what-ifs.

Fear of Failure

But life was never meant to be dreamed. That’s why dreams happen when we’re sleeping. In the bright light of day, we’re supposed to be passionately engaged in making our dreams real, giving them shape and form.

The fear of failing may be so grippingly powerful that you have decided not to try. But here’s the rub: If you try and fail, you will have failed.

But if you never try for fear of failing, the failure is guaranteed. You may worry that your self-esteem can’t handle the failure. But can it handle the surrender? What does that do to your esteem?

Who do you respect more, after all? The person who never tries, who never ventures out, who plays it so safe that he never risks anything? Or the person who gives it all she has and falls short? You already know the answer to this, right?

The Challenge!

So today, I challenge you to do something you’ve always wanted to do. Or learn something you’ve wanted to learn. Or go somewhere you yearn to go. A talent you wish you had. A skill you want to develop. A hobby you want to pursue.

But don’t wait. Start today. Not next year or next week or in a couple days. Tomorrow. At the latest.

Commit to it. Tell others you’ll be doing it. Think big. Be bold. Don’t shrink. Get started. Take action. Now! No excuses.

Don’t wait for your friends to agree or your spouse to plan the trip for you or the kids to be enthusiastic about it. Just do it.

A Good Excuse is Still an Excuse!

Be responsible and respectful of those your decision may affect, of course, but don’t let the same old tired excuses for flaccid living in the tepid waters of the status quo keep you laying on your back waiting for life to happen to you for even a second longer.

Give no excuses. Accept no excuses. No bemoaning the work or the resistance or the trouble it will take to do the thing you’ve committed yourself to doing. Decide once and for all that you will finally breathe life into your dreams.

Be Bold But Wise

Note that I’m not suggesting you will become an Olympian or CEO or a master or guru or billionaire. You may never be very good at what you decide today to do. But you will do it. No later than tomorrow.

I’m also not suggesting you cash out your retirement or recklessly invest in a poorly thought-out plan. But start something. Somewhere. At some level.

Move it or Lose it!

The purpose of this particular challenge is to get you moving, shaking off the cobwebs, taking action. It’s to flex your decision-making muscles.

Here’s the simple formula: Decide. Do. Repeat.

Refuse to be that person who reads yet another article, nods your head in agreement, then clicks to the next article on the next blog and goes on with life as it’s always been.


So what are you going to do today?

Is there something you’ve always wanted to learn? Do? Write? Paint? Sing? Fix? Play? Cook? Sew? Invent? Experience?

Perhaps you’ve always longed to build a life-sized LEGO dining room table. Or start scrapbooking. Or play tennis. Start a vegetable garden.

Have you always wanted to learn to play an instrument or sing or dance? Make a call and schedule a lesson. Buy a guitar. Borrow a banjo. Rent a tuba. Check out an instructional DVD from the library or YouTube it. Whatever. Just do it. Take action now.

Want to learn a martial art? Check the phone book for a studio near you. See if the local community center offers inexpensive lessons. Check the internet for ways you can learn some of the fundamentals on your own. Make an appointment with your doctor for a physical if your health makes that a prudent first step.

There are always intermediary steps you can take. Just stop waiting for the steps to be taken for you. The life you want is “out there.” So stop waiting for the life you want to come knocking. It won’t. It lives at the end of a road called hard work at the intersection of persistence.


Commit to one thing you will begin today. Let me know what it is in the comments and I’ll ask you about it the next day.