Seeing the wood through the trees


Procrastination. It’s a terrible disease.

We all have unique dreams. Not everybody wants to see wild Przewalski’s horses in Mongolia, train NGOs in Gaza City or walk across Spain. But I think almost everyone shares certain aspirations just because we’re human. We all want to be strong, fit and healthy. To cultivate our knowledge and abilities. To build relationships. To feel more at peace, present, aware. To contribute something positive to society and help others.

We’re so engrossed by immediate ‘priorities’ that we forget to stop and think about what really matters in this one, beautiful life. Our dreams get buried deep inside, and we spend our lives distracting ourselves from the calling within.

“I’ll start exercising when I have a bit more routine in life. I’ll see the world when I retire. I’ll start writing when I finish this project. I’ll learn to play piano if I win the lottery.”

Until a few weeks ago, I hadn’t exercised since I ran for a bus in 2005. I always, always knew that taking care of my body was essential to living a full life. But I just didn’t. Outwardly, I told the world that I was ‘too cool’ for exercise. A bad boy. A creative type. Inwardly, I was probably afraid of something.

Recently, Matt and I made a new life plan. We mapped out our seven areas of life and have a ten-year vision, as well as 2-year and 6-month goals for each… with activities, outputs and indicators for them all. For the aid workers out there, yes, this is a logframe. A life logframe.

Something changed in me the moment we began to map out our dreams. I suddenly knew exactly where I was going. And why. And how. I started running and going to the gym. I still feel like a right dork, but I’ve found peace and patience knowing that I’d finally taken that first essential step.

Not everyone needs a spreadsheet to get through life. But to live without stopping to think about why is like going to the supermarket without a list when you’re hungry — it never works out well.

I really believe that we quickly reconnect to our dreams through reflection, purposeful attention and inner calm. Apparently all I needed was the space to see the wood for the trees. What about you?

It’s never too late to start living.

— Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam


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