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Is this your last chance?

I recently ran across this quote from Carl Bard,

“Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand-new ending.”

I don’t know much about Bard, but I can tell he knows a fair bit about life. We tend to mark our calendars with deadlines and deliverables whether they’re 30 minutes from now, 60 minutes, a day, a week, a month, a quarter. And most of us track our progress towards those. Are we on pace for the quarter? Are we falling behind? What can we do to catch up?

Now, I’m not about to suggest you mirror Douglas Adams, who famously said,

“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.”

But, really, your only “last chance” is the one you never take.

When I was in high school, I fell way behind on a term-ending paper. As the marking period was winding down, I still wasn’t close to finishing things I was supposed to have completed by mid-terms. Instead of the required 20 references supporting a 15-page paper, I had only uncovered about 10 references to support my thesis and hadn’t even begun to write. Though I’d started in a blaze of ambition and passion, the flames had died and I felt I was watching my grade fizzle into smoke. I thought I’d missed my chance to get a good grade.

One day, Mr. Gall, the teacher, gave my class time to work on the project during school. After a few minutes, he noticed me sitting there, wallowing in my lack of progress, contemplating the grade I knew was coming my way and regretting my missed chances. He bellowed,

“What are you doing? Don’t just accept an ‘F’! Do something! Sure, you can’t meet some of the requirements of the assignment. But, what requirements can you meet? Can you write the paper? Support a thesis? Build a bibliography?”

After a moment, his tone softened and he said,

“Son, don’t be a pinhead. You are where you are today. But where you are tomorrow is entirely within your hands. It may not be where you wanted to be when you started. But it can be better than where you are right now.

So, whether you prefer Carl Bard’s “brand-new ending” or Mr. Gall’s “where you are tomorrow,” tomorrow is entirely up to you.

Ask yourself what you can do today that moves you closer to your goals for tomorrow. Then ask yourself again tomorrow. And the day after that. And so on. After all, it’s not your last chance. It’s your first.

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Tim Peter is the founder and president of Tim Peter & Associates. You can learn more about our company's strategy and digital marketing consulting services here or about Tim here.

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