Last year, I had an interesting opportunity come together. One of the things that made it so interesting is that it’s a combination of the work I’d been doing over the last three quarters and the goal I’ve been spelunking toward for the past few years. I use “spelunking” here because it’s been more like crawling on my stomach in the darkness through an occasional-light-through-the-crack cavern than like most of the clear but not necessarily easy goals I’ve been working toward.

The creative life is nothing if not being in multiple states of illumination and darkness at the same time, so I know you get what I’m talking about.

Of course, I had to discount my internal voices saying that I wasn’t ready for the opportunity or didn’t have time for it. I was thinking this is something that should happen sometime in the distant future – you know, when I have everything else figured out and when it makes perfect sense to get real about it. Unfortunately, that perfect time never comes. The fact that I’ve been saying that for years and that I gently guide people out of NeverWhen every day actually helped me not pay too much attention to those voices, but they were still plenty loud.

I’ve learned to pay more attention to the opportunities and guideposts that show up than to the ones I make, because the world is so much bigger than the world I can see. Most of the best things I’ve done have come not from my own design but from saying Yes to what came to me.

But here’s the thing: the universe does not work on our schedules.

While most of us feel that the universe is behind most of the time, there are other times when it’s way ahead of our schedules.

The trick is having the eyes to see that what’s in front of us may be what we need, even though we weren’t looking for it at all or right now, and to have the faith and courage to leap toward it rather than shrink away. NeverWhen is like quicksand: hard to notice, easy to step into, and so hard to get out of.

Food for thought:

  • What opportunities are in front of you right now that warrant leaping toward rather than backing away from?
  • If you’ve been stuck in NeverWhen on something that really matters to you, what do you need to do to take one positive step forward with it?
  • In what ways might you be constraining your total life opportunities to fit the world you’re comfortable with or understand rather than what might be available?

Originally published at


  • Charlie Gilkey

    Author, Speaker, Business Strategist, Coach

    Charlie Gilkey helps people start finish the stuff that matters. He's the founder of Productive Flourishing, author of the forthcoming Start Finishing and The Small Business Lifecycle, and host of the Productive Flourishing podcast. Prior to starting Productive Flourishing, Charlie was a Joint Force Military Logistics Coordinator while simultaneously pursuing a PhD in Philosophy. He lives with his wife, Angela, in Portland, Oregon.