I learned this early on a long time ago as a little kid. My mother always had weird ways to raise us kids, and one was in particular outstanding and made a big impression on me.
My room was always a mess, I almost never cleaned up. My mother told me to clean up many times, but I rarely did it.
After another month without cleaning up my room, I came home from a "long" day at school. I opened the door to my room, and holy shit. Everything was cleaned up, it was magical. At first, I was relieved – less work for me!
But after further inspection, I noticed that something was wrong. A lot of my personal items were missing. It looked like my mother cleaned up by just throwing away the majority of my stuff. Everything was gone, from clothes to my mp3 player.
I was upset and asked my mother why she did that. Her answer: "I asked you to do it for weeks, you didn't do it, so I did. You're welcome." (With a big grin on her face.)
This was the first time I learned that if I don't do something I should do or want to do, someone else would eventually do it. And this applies to pretty much everything in life to this day:
If I don't work on my dream project, someone else will.
If I don't give my partner the respect she or he deserves, someone else will. Same applies to my friends and colleagues.
If I don't establish my own opinion, the media, religion or other people will do it for me.
The question is, will be I okay with how it's done? Will I be disappointed in myself when I see someone else living out my dream? Will I look back on my life and see missed opportunities and wasted time?
One of my favorite articles from Tim Urban, the author of WaitButWhy, is relevant here. Below is a graphic that represents a 90-Year human life in weeks. Every box stands for one week in your life, assuming your life span is 90 years.
It's kinda crazy to look at it this way. You can see each individual week in your life right there, on this single image. Every time you're alive one week, you can basically cross out one of these boxes.
Every time I think of "If I don't do it, someone will," I think of one of these little boxes being colored in by someone else.
And while staring at this image is already terrifying enough, knowing that someone else is trying to cross out these boxes for me makes me even more motivated to get right back to living my life to the fullest. The way I want.