I mean, I did. It was right there—on my “to do” list. Right up at the top. So why didn’t it get done?
I can provide a thousand reasons. Can’t you? You make that list, sometimes more than one, and that “thing” doesn’t get done. Because of course, we don’t want to do it!
We all know the concept of tackling the biggest, baddest, hardest, etc., items first. All the gurus in whatever genre tell us that. Dive into the toughest jobs when we’re fresh every morning. Or early in the week. Get those behind you and the rest can be done as the day or week wears on.
And for the most part, we do that, no? It makes psychological as well as practical sense. Makes our lives easier. And that brings happiness. And I like to be happy.
So why do I leave that one thing hanging in the air like so much cotton-candy dust?
I don’t want to do it, that’s why. Procrastination always unveils those things we really don’t want to have to do. That child within us (sometimes referred to the Id!) balks. May even throw a temper tantrum. Or may just curl up that “thing” in a prickly ball that stings every time we even think of it.
And then the overly harsh parent (often referred to as the superego) comes in and nags at us about it. Sometimes the point is just to bring out that harsh ruler within and see how it wreaks as much havoc as the child part of us does, so we can see it.
So first I take a hard look and figure out why I’m not wanting to do X. It may be easy to discern. But not always. Often there’s a snake hiding under some rock not yet turned over. Ah! I think. Didn’t know that was still there to slay.
Then I see if I can break it down into pieces. Can I do the less-distasteful parts first? If so, the psychological wheels have already begun to turn. It takes more effort to stop the flow than to go with it.
What finally gets me on track is putting my gaze back on the goal. I know that procrastination thwarts reaching of that aim. We all know that, right? That’s the adult within coming back and saying, “Get your butt in gear. You have a something important to get done, and this item is standing in your way.”
Always refreshing to have the adult back in the room!
And usually I find in the end the procrastination had something to do with fear. Which boils down to fear of success or failure. Otherwise it wouldn’t carry such emotional valance.
So then I can remember why I’m doing what I’m doing in the first place. Regain that purpose, and then solidify the discipline needed to do it.
I love teacher, author, and statesman John William Gardner’s take on this:
“Some people may have greatness thrust upon them. Very few have excellence thrust upon them. They achieve it. They do not achieve it unwittingly, by ‘doing what comes naturally’; and they don’t stumble into it in the course of amusing themselves. All excellence involves discipline and tenacity of purpose.”
Okay, that kicked my butt!
How do you get yourself back in gear?