I was going to write a great article on this, but I just haven’t gotten around to it. You can tell because it has been weeks since I last came here to write.
Isn’t that the story of procrastination?
No, that is the result. The story is more complex than that for most of us.
Procrastination is the act of not acting productively. Procrastination substitutes busyness for action. Procrastination is a behavior and habit of not doing what needs to be done.
I procrastinate in more ways than I care to list. Most times because the task at hand isn’t “fun”. Other times, it’s because I get distracted and chase shiny objects. And other times, I never get my day started right, and I just react to random inputs instead of focusing on what needs to be done. I rarely pay attention to my list of things to do. I’m GOOD at procrastinating.
Most deadly is an unacknowledged fear that if I start this project, I will not succeed, so why start? Or, worse, that I WILL succeed. And if I succeed, I’m afraid of the unknown results and consequences. Those consequences might bring tasks or situations that will be beyond my ability to handle, and it MIGHT end up in me failing after all.
So why start?
I have to convince myself that failure is OK. Well, I know that! I’ve failed plenty of times in my life. Some have been pretty spectacular, if I do say so myself. It hasn’t killed me yet. I know that failure is only a state of mind, not a condition of life. I know that failures teach me things so that I will be less likely to fail in the future. I know that I am not defined by my failures, but by my actions and attitudes as a result of them.
Success brings a new set of problems and more opportunities for failure. Falling from a higher ledge only makes the landing that much more painful. Why subject myself to an increase in pain and dejection? Because from that higher ledge, I can see so much more opportunity for fulfillment and success.
Because success brings good things, too. If my goals are related to helping other people learn and grow, I get the joy of seeing that happen. I get happiness from their joy. I might even get wealth and respect. I certainly will get a personal sense of satisfaction and an increased sense of capability. I am a Winner!
So, procrastination is a mental battle between me and my destiny. I might like the thrill of working under pressure and deadlines. I might like the attention it brings when others are reliant on my success. I might just hate doing what I need to do. It is boring or I am not good at it or I don’t even know how to do it. These attitudes and rewards from procrastination are habits that I’ve cultivated over the years.
These are simply mental issues. They are conditions of my mind that I have to wrestle with and overcome. It is I that has the responsibility to manage Me. It is My task to stay on task. It is Me who holds the key to productivity and success.
I have to develop the habits and discipline to get started, to continue, and continue until I reach the end.
And that is the secret to success: Start. Continue. Finish.