Motivational authors often advise against using weak words like “should” and “someday” that amount to nothing but idle fantasies, lacking any definite commitment. Such words can lull us into believing that we are taking constructive action when in fact we haven’t done anything. We may think we’re making progress along the road to someday; but really we’re just frozen in place, not moving in any direction.
While I agree with being careful not to confuse fantasies with action, it’s also important not to jump into action without forethought or to get overly stressed working on plans for everything we might possibly want. “Should” and “someday” can be useful in their proper place, as preliminary steps toward action. Before committing ourselves to act, we first need to reflect on whether the action would be a good thing to do—whether we should do it. If the answer is yes, then we move on to considering the logistics. Although some plans can be made right away, it’s not practical to immediately set an action date for every idea that comes to mind.
That’s where putting “someday” items at the far end of the to-do list comes in. For example, someday I would like to travel to Australia, but right now there are plenty of other things that have higher priorities in my life. So, for now, it’s just a fantasy, and it doesn’t need to be anything else. If I considered it to be more important, I would research the details and put together an action plan, complete with specific dates. But until then, it’s just one of my somedays, and that’s okay.
What’s not okay—and all too easy to do, unfortunately—is to get stuck in a deep rut, avoiding even the smallest changes to our routines because of fear or laziness, while telling ourselves that we should do better and someday we’re going to work on it. In that context, “should” and “someday” are nothing more than excuses for hanging onto bad habits in the here and now. And as excuses go, they’re pretty worthless ones. Although change may seem scary or difficult, often all that’s needed is simply to take a small action each day, building better and healthier habits as time goes by.