Procrastination - a case of laziness or something deeper? - On "good to haves", "musts" and unicorns
I used to call myself a serial procrastinator putting some things off until very last minute, causing me to wreck havoc in my schedule, airline tickets costing way more than they should and some very angry friends at times. But the urge to procrastinate was way beyond my control so I did what every sensible person would do in this situation – I beat myself up and shamed myself for being lazy and wrong. So in response I procrastinated much more… And shamed myself some more.. And then it occurred to me – what if procrastination is not being lazy at all? What if it’s a very important sign and a protective mechanism that we are ignoring? So I took a notepad and wrote down everything I habitually procrastinated on. Nope, definitely didn’t turn out to be laziness.
And there are quite a few reasons that can make this list but I’d like to focus on one of my personal favorites – sometimes we just don’t want to do it, period. Yep, at times it’s really that simple. We’re trying to chase goals that we don’t actually want to achieve. But it’s too uncomfortable to admit as it would require doing something about it and changing direction. And it hit me especially hard when I found myself procrastinating in accepting the job offer for the position I was after for one and a half years. That’s one looong job interview and I thought I’d be thrilled at the end of it but in reality I procrastinated in making the phone call for over a week. Until I sat down and admitted to myself that something changed along the way, I didn’t want to be in this business anymore and I would find no fulfillment in this role. And that meant admitting that I would have to start all over again. Having lost all this time. Which in retrospect turned out to be the best decision of my life but really didn’t feel like it at the time.
Many times we’re trying to do things because they sound nice, they look reasonable or they seem like the logical thing to do. Like going on that diet we promise to go on starting next Monday EVERY Monday and never do. Do we actually want to lose that weight or we just think it would be hypothetically nice (or someone else does, ahem) but what we actually want to do is eat and enjoy our meals with fries in it? Or finally learning Portuguese.. Is it because we really want to learn it and speak it? Or is it because someone told us it would increase our employability and it we agree that it’s a logical thing to do but don’t actually find any pleasure in the process.
And of course many times stamina really is needed to push through those bouts of procrastination but I guess my thought here is that maybe sometimes if we consistently find that we’re postponing on starting something - it’s worth pausing and re-evaluating whether we truly want this or not. Or is it just our hypothetical - theoretical "it'd be good to have a yacht since my neighbors do", "should apply for that job for that extra pay" and "it'd be nice to meet a unicorn, everyone wants to"? Do I genuinely want this for myself and this is my own wish? And sometimes the answer is no and that’s okay too.