Here’s a sure-fire recipe for misery; see if it sounds familiar. You endure an existence that makes you miserable, thinking that at some date off in the future (e.g. retirement), you will commence real living. James Dolan calls this Preparing to Live Syndrome:
The sufferer sees life as an endless chain of meaningless, two-dimensional experiences that lack passion, value or meaning but that he must tolerate, because those experiences lead to some future point when all will come together, and life will again take on sparkle and value. In the meantime, there is nothing the sufferer can do, and the solution always lies out of reach, in the future.
It is uncommon to focus attention on the here and now and recognize it for what it is: the one moment of the only life we will ever have that we truly possess. Rare is the individual who has come to completely accept that the past is no more than a memory and the future an assumption about unborn events.
What is left when we truly accept this? I would submit that the vast freedom of here and now is what's left.
In other words, today is your real life. That idea can be tough to swallow. But it’s worth working on.
(Hat tip to the WSJ Law Blog, where you’ll find a long string of comments on this topic.)