Do you ever wonder if maybe your time has passed you by? Do you ever look back and wonder if maybe you spent too much time on dreams that weren’t yours? Have you ever looked around and thought maybe the window for your own plans has closed?

This is the time of year when we start doing assessments. We look forward and plan for the future to come. We look back and see if we met any of our goals from last year. Sometimes that makes it harder to face the truth of reality.

If you are like me, you see a career of hustling hard. You see a career of achievements that you fought hard for and a career of giving your best effort. If you’re like me, you also see years spent doing all those things in service to someone else’s dream.

You have done great things and been amazing all to meet someone else’s goals.

If you are like me, sometimes you wonder if you gave your best hustle years to someone else. You wonder if you have anything left to give yourself. You wonder if it’s even worth continuing to chase what’s left of your dreams when you don’t have the same energy and motivation you had when you first dreamt those dreams.

There were many lessons taught this year and I’m sure 2020 isn’t done with us yet. One lesson that became crystal clear to me is that it’s never too late. It’s never too late to fight for whatever is left of your dream, no matter how small or tattered it is.

It’s not too late to even dream new dreams. It’s not too late to reignite the hustler spirit that propelled you towards your goals in the past. It may not manifest physically the way it once did, but the mentality you had when you were in the chase can be reinvigorated and brought to bear on new goals designed around you and your vision.

You are not the same person you were when you first had those dreams and set those goals. So, it’s only logical that how you obtain your goals is not going to be the same. You may not be built for all night sprints anymore, but that doesn’t mean you don’t still have it in you to get up each day and continue to press along taking bold steps towards a future of your own design.

We get caught up in many things in this life that we think are beyond our control. We think if we have chosen a path, we can get too far down it to change direction. We think if we have a label we can’t become anything else. We think if we haven’t done it by now, we will never do it. If we haven’t become it by now, we will never become it.

That mentality is as much a dream killer as time and inactivity. We sell ourselves short and take ourselves out of the game because we think we have to follow some predetermined timeline of life that society says to follow. All the arbitrary milestones and goalposts that may or may not match what you hoped your life would be keep popping up.

It’s all an illusion. When will we learn? Life doesn’t have to be anything. It doesn’t have to follow a prescribed plan or a template designed by some marketing agency and sold to you in two-minute spoonfuls. It can be whatever you want. It can follow whatever timeline you want.

Every moment you spent working for someone else was time spent building your skills. Every bit of effort you put towards someone else’s goals and dreams was equity built in to strengthening your own ability to achieve. Every accomplishment, recognition, promotion or advancement was a brick in your wall of confidence in yourself and what you can achieve.

When you can’t go hard in the paint the way you used to, it can be easy to think you have to give up on dreams of your youth. It is easy to just lean into the tired trope of being too old or too worn out to try.

I am not suggesting that you if you are not independent and self-sufficient, you aren’t following your dreams. Nor am I suggesting that if you are not fighting against the norms and conformity of society, then you aren’t going for your dreams.

This year has made me weary of many things. One thing I am so tired of is the “shoulds.” I’m tired of being told what I should do with my skills or where I should be in my life. I’m over trying to meet other people’s deadlines and I’m definitely tired of thinking my dreams have to fit anyone else’s timeline or strategy.

It’s never too late to put your dreams first. It’s never too late to live life on your terms. It’s never too late to go for what you’ve always dreamed. It’s never too late to make new dreams. Each day you are alive affords you the opportunity to hustle for yourself with whatever you’ve got left. Take it or leave it. It’s really is up to you.

— Mariel Blake is a Daily News columnist. She can be reached at warriorgriotspeaks@gmail.com.