I’ve thought quite a lot recently about an old Chinese proverb I find very inspiring:

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

Let’s take an example that is more specific. Imagine that you have just recently discovered the joys of reading great fiction. But you’re over 40, even 50 (any age, in fact), and there are so many books. At a recent gathering of similar minded people everyone seemed to know so much more than you. What’s the point in even trying to catch up? You find yourself full of self-pity and envy. Well, start reading. Forget about all the books you haven’t read and enjoy the one you have before you. 

In the same way you might wish that you had invested in that specific stock or education 10 years ago. If that was the case you would probably be both very rich and happy today, just what if…

But that is impossible to change today. What is done is done. What you can do today though is to take action and influence the days to come. Imagine a few months from now standing at the beach just wishing that you had started to work out to get that dream body. That day to start can be today.

I repeat: 

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

There is huge amount of wisdom in these lines. I am sure most people have heard variants of this advice from other sources. Remember, in the Lion King, when Simba is moping about the past, and Rafiki hits him over the head with his stick?

Simba says: Ow! Jeez, what was that for? 

Rafiki replys: It doesn’t matter. It’s in the past. 

Simba says: Yeah, but it still hurts. 

Rafiki continues: Oh yes, the past can hurt. But from the way I see it, you can either run from it, or… learn from it. 

Let’s return to the more practical examples. Seven months ago I was in a life situation where I only dreamed about having more freedom and flexibility and being in control of my own time, without having any idea about how to get there.

I wished I had started to do something to about it earlier so I wouldn’t be in that situation. But how much I ever wished, the past couldn’t be changed. So I said to myself “well if I don’t want to be in this situation next year as well I have to start doing something about it, today!”

I did some research which led to that I finally took action and started to educate myself on running an online business.

At least I wanted to make sure that in 20 years from now I won’t be sitting complaining about my life and just dreaming about what could have been, if I’d just taken the time to invest in myself and build up the life I dreamed about 20 years ago…