I’m sure that, at some stage in life, you’ve heard the expression ‘make hay while the sun shines’. Some may say ‘strike while the iron is hot’; the message is the same. It’s a reminder to us to do something while the situation or conditions are right. In other words, in means taking advantage of an opportunity before it slips away.
In nature, everything happens in an unchanging order. Night follows day and seasons follow each other in an unerring pattern. Spring time brings with it warmer weather and showers of rain. A new look is created and the world looks green and beautiful. When summer arrives, the sun is hot and days become longer. Time moves on and brings with it the golden colours of autumn. Eventually this gives way to the biting cold of winter before the cycle begins again.
Can we make hay in winter when it’s cold and the sun doesn’t shine? Unfortunately not. We can do nothing to change the design of nature; we can only alter our needs and programs to correspond to its unchanging plan.
The zest and vitality of youth comes just once in our lifetime. When youth passes into old age, it brings with it cares and anxieties that accompany it like a shadow. Energy wanes and our faculties decline. Sadly, it sometimes isn’t possible to complete tasks and they are left unfinished. Dreams are left unfulfilled.
So it is with opportunities. They may not come again so when they are within reach we must seize them. If we lose a chance, nothing but regrets will remain and they do nothing to help us. It was Mark Twain who wrote that “twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do”.
Procrastination is the thief of time; it leads to failure and regret. There is time and place for everything. Experience tells us that we cannot afford to postpone things. Virtue lies in acting at the right time because an action delayed is action denied.
Often complacency is at the root of procrastination. While everything is satisfactory we relax and delay doing things. But when we realise we’ve missed an opportunity we desperately try to recapture it, only to find it’s too late. The remedy therefore, lies in avoiding complacency and being open to ideas presented to us. Over-confidence can be as bad as uncertainty; if the former makes us complacent, the latter leaves us in a void. Both cause failure and disappointment and obstruct our pathway to success.
Laziness can also be a culprit but with some contemplation we can face this reality. When we accept the fact, then we can conquer this internal foe. Finally, there is luck and destiny. When we hear tales of success, we naturally assume there is a large element of luck involved. In the same way, when we fail we also often blame fate. So, if luck makes us insincere, fate makes us irresponsible.
Many tragedies have occurred due to procrastination. It is therefore imperative to seize opportunities when they are within the reach and make the best use of them. Opportunities very rarely come in series, although difficulties may. There is no time to pause or ponder because tomorrow may be too late.
Always remember that preparation is a key to success. Students who neglect their studies through the year cannot pass even if they cram a day or two before the examinations. An athlete cannot win a marathon race by just turning up on the start line. It requires a dedicated training commitment. Wisdom isn’t looking at the sky and making forecasts; it is being ready to face whatever variety of weather the day brings.
Be prepared, because you never know the possibilities that await you. Take hold of an opportunity while you can because it may never come again. As Mark Twain went on to say in his famous quote…“So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
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