The Someday Syndrome

I remember waiting for someday. 

I remember many times in my life when I went through The Someday Syndrome, waiting for something that felt like it would never arrive.

If you think back, I’m sure you can remember, too.

  • Those early-teen years, when you couldn’t wait to be able to drive.
  • Those years as a broke college kid, when you couldn’t wait to make some money.
  • Those early twenties, when you couldn’t wait to find the partner of your dreams.
  • Those final years of work, when you couldn’t wait to retire.

We’ve all had periods where we’ve experienced The Someday Syndrome.  Those periods of life when you just couldn’t wait for something to arrive. A someday that felt like it would never get here.  An obsession with a future date that runs the risk of distracting from the joy of the present.

Chances are, some of you reading this post are waiting for the someday when you’ll finally be able to retire. Waiting for that freedom to do whatever you want to do, whenever you want to do it.

Waiting for someday.

My “Retirement Someday” arrived four years ago, and I can’t help but think back now that I’m on the other side of that experience with The Someday Syndrome.  What have I learned about the syndrome, and what advice would I give to those who are still waiting for that someday that feels like it will never arrive?

Today, my thoughts from the other side of The Someday Syndrome…

How to break The Someday Syndrome, that period of waiting forever for a day that feels like it will never arrive. Click To Tweet

The Someday Syndrome

Life is a terrible thing to waste.

And yet, many of us waste away some of the best years of our life waiting for a someday we hope will arrive.  A day that, in reality, may NOT arrive.  It seems a waste to spend life waiting through days that ARE happening while hoping for a day that isn’t guaranteed.

I remember those final 3 years of work, when it felt like retirement would never arrive.  I remember how slowly that time would pass, just waiting for those numbers to work.  Running those retirement calculators, again and again, knowing that the date was the date, and I just needed to wait.

I hate waiting.

Now that my retirement someday has come and gone, I realize I likely sub-optimized 3 years of my life while enduring The Someday Syndrome.  My life wasn’t terrible, but it was focused on a future day instead of embracing each day I’d been given.  I don’t make that mistake anymore and seek an opportunity to savor every day.

I think of all of the younger folks pursuing FIRE, and encourage all of them to think about bringing some balance into their lives.  Sure, early retirement is great, but it’s not worth sacrificing 10-15 years of your life in a desperate wait for someday to arrive.  Maybe it makes sense to cut back that savings rate, just a bit, and enjoy the life you’re living today.  As I mentioned in #5 of 20 Ways To Be Happier In Life, focus on finding balance.  A wheel always rolls better when the spokes are the same length.

As I thought about the lessons I’ve learned from the other side of The Someday Syndrome, a few additional thoughts came to mind.  Apply those that intrigue you, ignore those that don’t:


how to fight the someday syndrome

Be Present

Regardless of that someday you’re waiting for, find a way to enjoy the Present.  Focus on what you literally have in front of you, now.  Enjoy your time with your children, they’ll be out of the home soon and you’ll regret not giving them every minute you could when you had the opportunity.  If you’re fortunate to have parents who are still living, schedule some time to go home and tell them you love them, While You Still Can. Take a break from the worry in your life, and treat your spouse to a nice meal out at your favorite restaurant.

Quit focusing so much on the future, and find something about your “today” that brings you joy.  


Seek Balance

As I mentioned earlier, find a way to balance your future dreams with your present reality.  Work toward finding a balance between the two.  Perhaps you can reduce your savings rate just a bit and take a special vacation while your kids are still home.  Perhaps you can retire now and plan on doing some part-time work instead of doing a job you hate for the next 3 years until “the numbers work.”  You get the idea.  Cut back that spoke that’s gotten a bit too long, and invest some energy into the spoke that’s too short.  The wheel turns better that way…


Seek Daily Happiness

Ironically, my friend J$ (“Jay Money”) over at BudgetsAreSexy wrote an article on this topic when I was halfway through my draft of this post.  He’s a better writer than I am, and his post “Daily Happiness > Future Happiness” is a must-read if you suffer from The Someday Syndrome.  As he says in the introduction of the post:

If you’ve found yourself in a continual loop of obsessing about the future lately, STOP IT!!

Do not wish your days away! Today is more important!!

He’s a great writer, and I’m glad he’s back at the helm at Budgets Are Sexy.  If you’ve not yet discovered him, check out that post.  You won’t regret it. 


Your Someday Is Today

To break The Someday Syndrome, embrace the reality of every day you’re given.  What follows is a seemingly odd video to include in a retirement blog, but it’s a helpful reminder for anyone suffering from The Someday Syndrome.  As I was walking the dogs around our 1.5-mile trail this morning, this song came into my head as I was thinking about this post.  Consider it providence, but I felt it worthwhile to share this classic bible school song since it’s been filling my head ever since (it’s catchy that way, and why should I suffer alone?).  Ponder the lyrics, and find a way to be glad in every today you’re given.

 

I will rejoice and be glad in it:  A conscious decision to be joyful in every day you’re given.

Sure beats waiting for someday to arrive.


Choose To Be Content

I find it interesting that the very first post I wrote on The Retirement Manifesto, way back in April 2015, was titled Contentment.  Making a conscious decision to be content has long been a focus of mine, and something I strive for on a regular basis.  As I wrote in that post, “I, choose to be content.”  Simply making the decision to pursue contentment can go a long way to changing your outlook on life, and is a proven defense against The Someday Syndrome. Have you made that declaration to yourself?  If not, why not?  I’d encourage you to adopt that mindset today rather than wait until someday to realize the importance of your mindset. 

Practice contentment.  Today.


Live Life To The Fullest Each Day

I have to give credit where credit is due for this final suggestion.  Back in December 2021, I wrote “Retirement Is Nothing Like I Thought It Would Be.”  Dusty left the following comment on that post, and I created a draft post titled “The Someday Syndrome” immediately after responding.  Sometimes it takes me a while to work through that draft folder, but this post is for you, Dusty.  Thanks for motivating me to write this post, and for your reminder to “live life to the fullest each day!”

where I got the idea for The Someday Syndrome


Conclusion

Are you suffering from The Someday Syndrome?  It’s something we all struggle with from time to time, and that’s okay.  The danger lies in becoming absorbed in a life that’s spent waiting for tomorrow’s someday instead of savoring every day we’re given.  If you’re focused too much on a future that may never arrive, try applying a few of these tips in your life now (and don’t wait for someday to get started).   

Work on being Present, today.

Life’s too short to spend it waiting for a someday that may never arrive.

Your Turn:  Have you ever experienced The Someday Syndrome? What were you waiting for, and what tips do you have for others who may be going through it now?  Let’s chat in the comments…

53 comments

      1. Here’s a second comment for you, lol…

        Now you have to say nice things about me in your next post too 🙂

  1. Fritz, timely post for me. I have 4 months to declare my intention to retire from my 32 year teaching career. I declare in January but still work through June—a little tough in some ways. The school year is about to start and I can’t wait for it to be over already!? So this post (as well as your posts on one more year syndrome) will help guide me through.

    Isn’t it wonderful how an old song can come back into our minds to guide and reassure us???

    As always—thanks.
    Karen

    1. Karen, my wife and I had that exact discussion on the bible school song. We laughed when she said she could only watch it for 15 seconds, that thing penetrates the mind! (I suspect not a single reader will watch that video to the end). Those lyrics have been stuck in my head for several weeks now, but I’ve chosen to accept it as my new mantra to savor each day we’re given. Good luck enduring the final school year, find a way to enjoy each day!

      1. My wife and I just did and sung along too! We are both retired and currently in our travel trailer “The Elsie” in Wells Maine. Enjoying our “Someday” while having enjoyed the journey to this point. I agree that the younger FIRE folks should enjoy today.

  2. Wow – Fritz – great post on this topic ! I, choose to be content phrase that you used in your first post rings true more than ever and can be a game changer if we adopt that belief. Appreciate you and what you do and thank you for this post !

  3. Wow….as I set here on my back patio (after running my retirement numbers again what feels like every day sometimes multiple times per day in different angles) about to start my daily commute to work. At age 42, I obsess with how fast I can get to retirement. As much as I think I have my “numbers” figured out with a plan for that, it seems that I want it faster. Why? I have no idea other than the “someday syndrome”. Work, daily life, all of the above is great, but maybe having the perfect retirement plan in process is like another project to me that I want to “complete” that really has no end…. your post hit home to me & perhaps answered my daily struggle of “will I be ready & how fast can I be”. Knowing I have a “general” plan and numbers inline for X years from today should be good. Right?
    Life, Health, Family, Challenging Work, & watching the Sunrise & Set is or could be better than “Retirement” when all is not promised anyway…. Thanks Fritz for your Post today!

    1. Michael, so I wasn’t the only one who obsessed on running those retirement calculators? And yes, having a “general” plan is absolutely sufficient at this point in your journey, redirect some of that planning energy into thinking of ways you can better enjoy today. Enjoy those sunrises from your back patio, glad to hear today’s post resonated with you. You were exactly the type person I was thinking of as I wrote it. Good luck on your journey.

  4. What a great post thanks. I like to think that I don’t have someday syndrome but reality is I do. But I do enjoy breaking away from it and always am amazed at how good it feels. After reading this I will be even more aware.

  5. J$ beat me! Rats! 🙂

    Another thought provoking post Fritz! Not only waiting on your retirement date to arrive, so many other events come to mind. A known inheritance that is very slow in arbitration….your first baby…folks, it takes nine months; how about your baby’s first steps? How about, after about a month chasing the rug rat, wondering why you wanted that little knee knocker to learn to walk?! Ha.

    I agree that J$ is a great writer, along with many others, so I follow several writers. Information/learning can be a powerful thing in the right minds.

    My wish is for every state to make Personal Finance 101 a required full year class in the junior or senior year of HS. Only common sense for an adult to learn more than how to balance your checkbook BEFORE debt hits them in the face!

    God speed to all readers, Steve

    1. Steve, thanks for adding to the list of root causes for The Someday Syndrome. Had to LOL about “that little knee knocker”. I couldn’t agree more on the value of PF101 in high school, would be more valuable than much of the irrelevant content that students are forced to endure these days. And, thanks for confirming J$’s writing prowess, not to mention he’s also quick on getting his comments in!

  6. “Don’t get so focused on the goal that you fail to enjoy the process”. That’s been my motto for 50 years. Same wheelhouse.

  7. Great advice Fritz, and something that guys our age understand, perhaps, better than younger folk. I definitely packed my career days with an equal amount of running, tennis, fishing and hiking with family and friends. I wasn’t particularly wise, I just have had a driving desire for fun my whole life. I always had a hard time getting through even a single day unless I had something fun scheduled that day, and preferably several fun things to do. Same thing in retirement, I fished all day in the rain yesterday, my favorite time to fish! Then I cooked an awesome meal of blackened bass filets topped with New Orleans style barbecued crawfish tails. Today I’ll publish a blog post and play pickle ball. Tomorrow I’ll meet up with seven mostly retired friends to fly to St. Louis for a Cardinals baseball weekend. And then I’ve got to plan the next road trip for me and my wife, she wants either to head to Maine or Utah I think. And there’s a bunch of volunteer work to squeeze in as well. Life is a great adventure and the journey is to be enjoyed!

  8. Fritz, s’wonderful post again and quite timely for my wife whom I shared. We recently just made the decision to have her retire in two years after she is fully vested in her pension plan with healthcare benefits without altering our retirement plans. She absolutely loves her job assessing pre-K children and her colleagues, but unfortunately, the job has become stressful due to the school administrative bureaucrats. She can’t wait for retirement but as a consummate professional she will not succumb to the “Quiet Quitting” crowd.

    Speaking of “Quiet Quitting”, I do believe your daughter is married to a GI, therefore, he would appreciate the military acronym, ROAD warrior, “Retired On Active Duty”. When I was an Army artillery battery commander many moons ago, I would tell my ROAD warriors: “Don’t count the days, make the days count”. You so eloquently conveyed this today.

  9. Hi Fritz, what timing for the read for me. Just returned from the hospital from heart surgery. I have definitely been procrastinating in pulling the trigger for retirement. Judy and I are making the plan now!
    Thanks for the great article.

    1. Wow, Marshall, sorry to hear about the heart surgery. Definitely a wake-up call, time to get out and enjoy life while you still can! I hope those plans include a trip over from Chattanooga to Blue Ridge in the near future, would enjoy sharing a coffee with you and Judy!

  10. Great timing on this post. I am within a few years of retirement and have been *obsessing* over our plans and dates, to the point of inducing stress, even though my wife and I are in a good place for work/life balance. Our last child left for college this past week, so we need to set retirement planning aside for a while and just enjoy being a new empty-nesters!

    1. Congrats on having an empty nest, a major milestone in the process. Enjoy your present reality, no need to stress about that retirement thing, it’s still a few years away. Glad my timing worked well for you, time to apply those defenses against The Someday Syndrome.

  11. I had a sign made which is hanging above my lanai door that says “Someday Came”. My someday came when I retired & we moved from the cold, cloudy northeast to Florida. Its not like we are on the ocean or anything but we do have a lake view. However my husband is still working so the next Someday is when he retires & we have time to travel.

  12. Hi Fritz,
    Not sure you could have wrote this article at a better time. I am someone is has always been driven and driving others to succeed. Deciding what equals success is another question. I had a goal to retire early, which I did at 58, tried for six months and was quite jumpy so went back to work. Now after a year+ back to work the last thing I am thinking about is “Contentment.” I am thinking more about what big monster task(work or non-work related) I am going to tackle. “Bring it on”

    1. That Type-A thing it tough to break. You’re going to like my next post, “Accept The Challenge”. I, like you, enjoy having a challenge to tackle. The joy in retirement is that I’m free to decide what the next challenge will be.

  13. Hey Fritz, great, thought provoking post. I always enjoy your stuff and never fail to learn something from your insights. When you wrote your post on ‘one more year syndrome’ several years back, I smiled because I had recently gone through something very similar. I could relate at the time very deeply to the depth of the commitment of knowing you were about to make a decision, voluntarily, that was going to alter the the balance of your life. Heavy stuff then, and a sort of relief for me that I was reading articles from an author that was feeling the same decisions weighing in on him. You where there with numerous insights that were of great help to me at the time, and that I’m still benefiting from, thank you again.

    As to your post today of the ‘Someday Syndrome’, of course I have been through it, many times and in many different ways. I would be surprised to find many people that have not experienced the Someday Syndrome in one way or another. The most significant way that I experienced the ‘Someday Syndrome’, and one that I still think about, is that a few years into many career, after a few different events occurred in rather close succession I realized that at some point in my life I wasn’t going to be able to get up everyday and do this job for a living. That attitude made for a wonderful career that I enjoyed thoroughly, but at the same time it was kinda sad for me that I knew I was always running out of time. Of course the time did run out on my career, and it was time to go after 31 years. The end didn’t come as expected, of course, but it was still the end.

    Of course retirement has been a whole new adventure for the last 10 years. Totally different than I expected, but on the other hand exactly what I expected. Every morning I wake up I feel like I’m 10 years old and it’s the first day of summer vacation! I work hard not to take the ‘Someday Syndrome’ for granted at this point in my life. Your article was right on topic for me at this time in my life, thanks for that. Keep writing, I really appreciate your content.

  14. Great philosophical advice Fritz. These are such great points that if you could manage to live by them, I’m sure you’d find a happier place in your life. Being ‘present’ or living in the present is huge, and was something my mother always preached. We as kids were always worried about the ‘next thing’ whatever that was back then, and if you can be content in the present you appreciate ‘Now’ much more. Compare your life of someone who is not as fortunate, and you may appreciate what you have a whole lot more!

  15. Fritz a great article
    For several years I have been working at living in the moment. It is hard but the more you work at it the sooner it comes naturally. I often mention this and am surprised at people’s reaction. I read a great interview with beer brewer, he discussed his story and his breweries products. The interview asked him what his favourite beer was. His response” the one i am drinking right now”. That really made an impact on me and supported the living in the moment.

    1. “It is hard but the more you work at it the sooner it comes naturally.”

      Spot on, Gerry. Like most things, if applied consistently it’s possible to turn positive things into habits. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. Either negatives or positives can become habits, it’s up to each of us to decide which we’re going to pursue in our own lives. Glad to hear you’re focused on ingraining the positives.

  16. Dead on, Fritz! I was one of those folks who was pushing too hard on the pursuit of FIRE. I wasn’t enjoying the present as much as I should have for probably a good year or so before I had a wake-up call. You can’t forgo today’s happiness for tomorrow!

    That said, I haven’t wasted a day in early retirement… loving every minute of it!

    PS Hope you crushed it in your swim!!!

    1. Jim, you’re a shining example of someone who is living life to the fullest in early retirement. Hope the transition to life “back home” is going well, I’m sure that’s a huge adjustment. The swim went exceedingly well, watch for my next post (“Accept The Challenge”) about the experience. Made me think of you and that Panamanian volcano….

  17. Hi Fritz
    great post, couldn’t agree more about the need to live in the present rather than continually worrying about the future. Unfortunately, it is easier said than done, particularly in today’s economic climate.
    Also, social media dominates most people’s lives and this seems to lead to continual low-level anxiety. It just isn’t that easy to switch off.
    When a walk in the countryside is about getting from A to B as quickly as possible rather than taking time to enjoy the beauty of the landscape. We rush from one thing to the next with hardly a chance to enjoy any of it.
    We need to remember to enjoy the journey on the way to the destination!

    1. “We need to remember to enjoy the journey on the way to the destination!”

      Amen. And, the first step is to be aware of the obstacles in our way. Thanks for reminding us all of the need to take a slow walk in the countryside! (Part of my daily routine, btw, given my daily 1.5 mile walk in the woods with our 4 dogs. A great way to start every day!)

  18. I’ve been in someday mode for the past two years. We are literally 12 months from being able to go part time/semi retired. Now it looks like I’ll be doing it alone. My spreadsheet is a hot mess and I’ve got to re-figure out the whole thing. No more “somedays” for me. I’m going to enjoy more of todays.

  19. When I announced my retirement at work a couple of years ago, I had one coworker (who was about 30 years old) tell me she was jealous! Every time I saw her, she would say, “You’re so lucky, I can’t wait to retire”. And every single time, I told her don’t “wish away your youth”. I also mentioned that I would switch places with her……ah, the thought of being 30 again! However, now that I’ve been retired for a 1+ years, I’m not sure I would make the switch – Life is Good!

  20. I find myself in the Someday Syndrome when I think of travel. Someday I’ll get to Europe. Someday I’ll go out to San Diego for a few days and on and on. However, most days I’m pretty content and living in the day.

  21. Thanks Fritz,
    Someday, I will figure out how much I need or really want to retire.
    Someday, I need to get my things organized. Why is this so hard?
    We do look forward to the future but often drag our feet about doing things now. Why?

  22. I’ve been seriously guilty of subscribing to the Someday Syndrome dynamic. Working two jobs for decades, delaying all kinds of gratification, always telling myself to work hard and put everything I can spare away for retirement. Then my parents got sick and boy did I get a wake up call about the price of waiting too long. Now I say yes to social engagements. I say yes to buying a new house and putting my phone up for sale. I say yes to a New Life that is mostly devoid of any kind of work and responsibility.

  23. It has been 8 years since we have cut the 9 to 5 cord, and we could not ask for more!
    1. Traveled most of Southeast Asian countries
    2. Survived the full year lock up in back in the States due to the pandemic
    3. Made a speculated RE investment in Vietnam
    4. Taught kids English and Writing codes
    5. Waiting for Japan to open up for a return visit

    We are hoping for another 8 years of these moment to moment plan and execution…
    before our age catches up and dictate a smaller circle of possibilities.

    STAY IN THE MOMENT!

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