We ended each turn with the word “someday.” We used it like people with two-way radios use the word “over” — to indicate whose turn it was to speak. A typical conversation resulting from our game went something like this:
I want to travel the world someday.
I want to backpack across the United States someday.
I want to go to Hawaii someday.
I want to go surfing someday.
I want to learn to sail someday.
and it continued in that manner, always in the form of
I want to (do something) someday.
My friend and I agree that although this game helped us learn about one another’s aspirations in life, it did not help us actually accomplish them. The problem was clear:
“Someday” is too ambiguous. It’s not a goal, a deadline, or an estimation — it’s an unspecified time in the future so indefinite that it’s borderline fantasy. As a result, it tends to promote inaction rather than action.
Telling yourself that you want to do something someday doesn’t accomplish much — yet it’s human nature to think this way. People commonly proclaim “I want to get married someday,” or “I want to be rich someday.”
They have good reason for being so unspecific: It’s comforting to make goals that lack a due date. There’s no pressure to get it done immediately because there’s always tomorrow. In other words:
There’s always the rest of your life for your perfect “Someday” to arrive. Unfortunately, that’s the myth.
The truth is, you won’t experience that “Someday” you’re looking forward to unless you take action today. When you convince yourself that you have the rest of your life to do something, you’ll experience day after day of inaction until you’ve lost your chance to actually do it. I learned this through a close friend of mine who, tragically, learned it the hard way:
His mother went to the hospital for routine surgery. She died. She was among the few “one in a million” cases where the patient doesn’t wake up from the anesthetic.
Suddenly, all of the plans that my friend hoped to do with his mom “Someday” could no longer be done. She was gone, and she took all the future opportunities with her. There was no time left to learn how to make her deviled eggs. There was no time left to make a cookbook. There was no time left to even say goodbye.
That’s why you can’t make plans for someday. One of my favorite authors writes how “folks who have one foot in the future and the other in the past and spend their time pissin all over today because of it.” (Stephen King, from Four Past Midnight) — I agree wholeheartedly.
If you find yourself saying “I wish I had (done something differently),” the thing to do is let it go. Don’t live in your past.
If you find yourself saying “I want to (do something) someday,” the thing to do is change your outlook. Don’t live in your future.
Remember, “Someday” is a myth — all you have is the present. Live in it.
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