More Thoughts On Procrastinating — an Article I’ve been Putting Off Writing for 2 Days
So a couple of days ago, I wrote this article, Procrastination, Jerry Seinfeld and Abraham Lincoln and referenced this quote:
“Discipline is choosing between what you want now and what you want most.” ~Abraham Lincoln
I also suggested that it’s a lot easier if you use a strategy that converts what you want most into something that you want now. For example, when you have a boring task, set a timer and see how fast you can finish it. Or split the task in two and race through it with a friend or family member. That sort of thing. Or just play the mental game of thinking of what you are doing in brave terms, see yourself as the hero rising early and slogging along, just like Rocky did back before he was in shape.
But…. there’s been this nagging voice up in my head the last couple days that said I oversimplified it and that Lincoln really was right that sometimes you have to make a choice between what feels good now and getting what you really want in the long run.
I also did a bit of reading other articles on procrastination and why we do it. They all seemed to say that we procrastinate doing a task when we anticipate some kind of pain with that task — it can be boredom, loneliness, doubt, embarrassment, failure…. or to go back to my rising at dawn to run when out of shape, it could be the pain of your face stinging, your lungs burning, your legs feeling like wood and the incessant voice in your head asking “Hey, dumbass, why you aren’t still in bed cozy and warm?”
So how do we overcome procrastination and jump right into the things we SAY we want to do, but then we put off doing? I thought after I read Lincoln’s quote that I would simply have a talking to myself whenever I was putting something off. I’d say, “SELF! What do you REALLY want MOST? Right… so make the right choice.”
But come on… like that’s going to work. Instead I’ve got a new mantra:
If You Want to Swim, You Have to Jump in the Water at Some Point!
Because I NEVER like that first moment of jumping in the water. (Okay maybe once when a run had put me on the verge of heat stroke.) But I do like to swim.
I also think that I’m going to reflect when I catch myself putting off a task to look at what exactly is the ‘anticipated pain’ that is delaying me. For writing, it is often that my written words will fall flat. As long as they were floating in my brain, vague witty snippets, they remain perfect, enchanting and very clever. But sometimes when I write them they displease me, make me doubt myself. It helps to recognize my own personal anticipated pain, because then I can say, “yes, that could happen. But you might also surprise yourself and really like what you write. It’s happened before, you knucklehead. So go ahead and jump in!”