The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, the next best time is now. ― Chinese Proverb

No thanks to the rapid nature of modern life, we now think we can have everything we need right at the point of need. Yet, this is not true. You can’t suddenly build strength, expertise or funds that very moment you need it.

If you want to enjoy a tree’s shade today, you must have planted the tree several years ago. You can’t plant a tree the day you need it. Share on X

Every person needs these things

Our individual requirements for a purposeful, happy living are vast and varied. At several life junctures, we have several needs ranging from materials, such as money, to intangibles such as fortitude, skills, love and friends.

It can be difficult to predict your need per time as you conduct this business of living. You can’t always tell, for example, when you’ll need lots of money or a dependable shoulder to lean. Life is notorious for its twists and turns.

Nonetheless, there are some constant variables you and I require if we must survive and thrive. For us to live a worthwhile, fulfilled life, we cannot do without these critical tools and resources. They are our life―and our lifelines.

The list is endless but let’s consider a few. Under intangibles, we need good health as well as valuable relationships and everything that comes with them―support, love, goodwill, direction, counsel, identity, nourishment, etc.

Apart from the basics (air, water and food), clothing, shelter and money constitute some of life’s essential materials. You and I need these things in varying amounts as occasion demands.

Upon knowing our needs, getting them becomes the next priority. This is what our daily life is all about: pursuing our needs and wants with the scarce resources at our disposal.

Yet, we suffer far too many times because we undertake living the wrong way. We lose the way by pursuing several misplaced priorities. We don’t reach our potentials because we await the day we need the shade before attempting to plant the tree.

We fail to build that valuable relationship until we need it to move us closer to success. Until the famine arrives, we don’t attempt to save some grains. You and I are wont to never take our health serious except our body starts showing symptoms.

And oftentimes, it’s too late by the time you choose to take action. You find yourself spiralling as matters are by then out of your control. Then, it all becomes a matter of stemming the flow and managing the situation.

Do this to avoid settling for less

What if I told you there’s a better way? Yes, that’s the good news. You don’t always have to manage the situation when you can avoid such dire situations entirely. External pressure does not have to be your primary drive.

What you have to do is simple: build before you have to. The key to staying ahead of the situation is to plant the tree well before you need the shade. As a professional in any field, acquire useful knowledge before you have to.

Build strength before you have to―before there is an urgent need for it. You do yourself a lot of good when you build an emergency fund before an emergency comes up.

Don’t wait for an emergency to occur before you start scrambling for resources. Share on X

Dear friend, build valuable relationships before you need them—and not because you need them, even though you will need them, but because you genuinely care.” Remember, relationship is your greatest asset.

Let internal pressure drive you today, so you can handle external pressure tomorrow. By the time you need to handle external pressure, it’s often too late to get the best solution. In such cases, you’re forced to settle for less―you don’t want that.

Don’t wait until you have to or need to. Share on X

Before you have to, exercise now. Show your loved ones how much you care before some external pressure forces you to. Dig the well now before thirst sets in.


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PS: This piece is largely inspired by an issue of bestselling author, James Clear’s newsletter. You can join his letter by clicking here.