“Someday” Never Comes!
by Stephen Doherty
“Most people spend their entire lives on a fantasy
island called, “Someday I’ll”… –Dr. Dennis Waitley
The famed motivational speaker Les Brown delivers the following sobering lament in virtually every one of his motivational speeches. “The graveyard is the richest place on earth, because it is here that you will find all the hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled, the books that were never written, the songs that were never sung, the inventions that were never shared, the cures that were never discovered, all because someone was too afraid to take that first step, keep with the problem, or determined to carry out their dream.” As I get older, I think about this more and more as whatever hopes and dreams I yet aspire to are now, more than ever, heavily contingent on the remaining sands in my hourglass. What keeps so many of us from working day and night to achieve our dreams? Fear of failure? Fear of success? Complacence? Laziness? Or could it be something more?
I guess the first question for most people is, do you really WANT to strive for the impossible? Reach for the unreachable? Train and pursue the unattainable? We all got goosebumps and cheered on Rocky Balboa in his impossible quest for the heavyweight title…as we ate popcorn and generally faded back into our normal lives when the movie ended. A tiny fraction of our population is made up of the “super” achievers like Bill Gates, Muhammid Ali, Warren Buffet, Albert Einstein, John Paul Getty, Jim Brown, Frank Sinatra, and the handful of others that we look up to and aspire to be throughout our lives. This is where the “Someday I’ll…..” syndrome kicks in for many of us. I think we’re temporarily dazzled by larger-than-life celebrities and heroes who make our own lives seem small and boring by comparison. I think you see that frustration manifested in the purchase of millions of books with titles like, “Be All You Can Be!” or “Discovering Your Inner Champion” and thousands of other similarly titled works. Truth be told–the only “champions” emerging from most of these books is the bank accounts of the authors.
What keeps us from being the next Tiger Woods or Steve Jobs or Robert Redford or Mark Zuckerberg isn’t lack of talent or motivation. Let’s face it–luck and timing play a huge role in the success of the rich and famous and as we see daily, material fame is rarely an antidote to wretchedness and unhappiness. The bigger reason is far simpler-we’re not wired for success! Yes-you heard me right, we are NOT WIRED for greatness! Our bodies and minds are hard-wired for three things since the dawn of time. The pursuit of food, shelter, and a mate for procreation. That’s it. Period. Anything beyond these basics represents a threat to our inner survival radar. The very components of greatness- risk, and sacrifice, run contrary to a million years of hard wired caution and apprehension. The few people who do achieve “greatness”, have been able to overcome or disregard this inner-programming that exists to keep us safe from those very risks. For most of us? Maybe sheer normalcy keeps us out of the arena.
“One day you will wonder what was so important that you put off doing the most important things. ‘Someday’ can be a thief in the night.”
I think there’s another possibility. Maybe “success” is a relative term left open to each of us for interpretation. Maybe for most of us, tucking in our kids, making a decent living and enjoying a beer with our friends…is enough? Maybe less IS more in the spiritual sense and maybe our sense of purpose and happiness has nothing to do with wealth or fame? There is a terrific line in the famed poem Desiderata that goes, “If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.” For me? I no longer live by a “Someday I’ll…” edict because I’ve learned two important lessons. One, “someday” never arrives but if we string together enough good todays-it’s moot. Someday will take care of itself. Finally–NEVER sacrifice the good on the altar of the perfect. As long as we draw breath, the possibilities for success and happiness are still endless. Embrace the last stanza of Deserderata, “Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.”