The Someday Syndrome

Yeah we should do it someday.

Hey friends,

There's one entry in my Mental Library that I've been paying a lot more attention to these past couple weeks: the Someday Syndrome. It's what I call a specific behavior pattern I experience when dealing with the things I'd like to do.

Whenever I get excited about something, I throw it into my "let's do it someday" list aka my Someday List. It can be literally anything: buying new stuff, trying new hobbies, doing different things with different friends, learning new skills, whatever. It's like a wishlist for things and activities.

Here are a few items from my Someday List:

  • Become a better public speaker
  • Try doing stand-up comedy
  • Try amateur racing
  • Get a PPL license
  • Learn to dance

These are the more difficult ones, but the list is also full of simpler stuff.

The problem is, when I get the time and opportunity to do a Someday Thing, I'm usually already excited about something else. In a sense, I feel more excited about having things on my Someday List than about actually doing them when I get a chance. It's as if I'm prioritizing the possibility of having fun in the future over actually having it right now.

This sucks for a lot of reasons: my list keeps ballooning, I don't get to do the things I would genuinely enjoy doing, and the people who I suggested we could do it with get annoyed by my inability to follow through. (It's the main reason why I'm non-committal about this stuff: "yeah we should do it someday" vs "yes, let's do it!").

Lately, I've been trying to deconstruct why I feel this way about my Someday List, and I think it has to do with my Novelty Bias (another entry in my Mental Library).

The Novelty Bias is when I'm more excited about things I haven't experienced yet, while the things I've already experienced feel more mundane. Technically, the process of putting an item on my Someday List because I'm excited about it gives my brain a little bit of an experience of it without doing the thing. It's like the release of dopamine in anticipation of a reward, not from the reward itself.

This sounds pretty dumb on my brain's part. After all, I want to actually do the thing I'm excited about, not just be excited about the possibility of doing it in the future! So lately I've been trying to override my brain whenever it feels "meh" about doing the stuff from my Someday List.

Here's the simple message to my brain that I use to override its default behavior:

"Hey brain, if you've felt excited about putting this activity on the list, you WILL enjoy doing it when you actually get to it – even if you don't feel excited about it right now. So stop being stupid about it and let's go do it!"

And it kinda works! Over the past couple weeks, I met a few people I was wanting to meet for ages, I got back to riding motorcycles for the first time in years, and I'm planning to do some other things from my Someday List shortly.

So if there's something exciting that you've been postponing because it never feels like the right time, try my approach and see if it resonates with your brain.

Have an exciting week,


A few thoughts

Vague plan = vague results. Whenever I have stuff like "do some research on X" or "work on Y for a few hours" in my plans, I usually end up wasting a lot of time and getting mediocre results. Specific, actionable plans always work best.

Break up your mundane work. My brain often shuts down after a few focused hours of mundane work, such as working with spreadsheets. The only way I can spend 8 hours doing mundane work is by breaking it up into multiple blocks and adding something different in-between.

Cardio + Weightlifting = Magic. I recently started riding my bike to the gym instead of taking the car like I usually do. It takes about the same amount of time, but it makes me feel so much better – and I don't have to spend 5 minutes warming up on a stationary one. Wins all around.

Loved this

Kurzgesagt - The Reason Why Cancer is so Hard to Beat Cancer sucks, but Kurzgesagt videos always make me hopeful. This is a great one on why cancer is so hard to beat and how we're getting better at it. Here's to a future without it!

The fun part

Last week I tried riding a sports bike for the first time in my life (Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R), and two things didn't happen:

  • I didn't die
  • I didn't hate it

Although it felt a little weird after riding a cruiser for years, I kinda enjoyed it. So, I plan to give Yamaha YZF-R6 and Honda CBR600RR a try next to see if sports bikes are something I can enjoy on a regular basis vs it being a one-off thing.