The Wisdom of Procrastination
We are all familiar with the concept of procrastination. Not being able to take actions, struggling to complete a straightforward task, stuck midway through finishing a report, etc are all different examples of this little devil. And because you are reading this article, I am sure you are smart enough to understand that this situation needs dealing asap.
WHAT IS PROCRASTINATION?
In simple terms, procrastination is “failing to act”. You know you would like to complete whatever task you have at hand, but you fail to do so. So the book lies unfinished, your project planning is stuck, your next product awaits to be invented, etc. The list could be endless. But the result is always the same. You can’t seem to get moving again.
Sometimes it appears to be a simple task. You know you want to complete your work. All you really need is to get moving again but can’t. Other times, it isn’t so easy. You feel self-doubt, frustration, even fear, all because of your inability to move forward.
So what can you do?
I know this isn’t the first time someone is writing about procrastination. You may already be familiar with a zillion ways to handle this issue (okay, maybe a little less than that). Work in short and focussed time slots. Or take longer uninterrupted durations to make big progress in a cumulative manner. Remember the purpose of your task. Use motivational songs and stories to gather up your courage and start working again, etc. These are some of the ways to handle the common problem of procrastination.
What if there is a deeper implication to procrastination?
What if, despite all your knowledge and solutions, all you manage to do is gain temporary victories against procrastination? And before you’re done overcoming your current troubles, you’re already dreading to take the future steps.
What do you do then?
Perhaps there is something more to the picture than you realize!
LEVELS OF PROCRASTINATION
We all recognize procrastination as a singular problem. But I like to think of it as having two levels.
Let’s call these two levels of procrastination as short term procrastination and long term procrastination.
Don’t get hung up on the terms. It is the concept that matters and I’ll try my best to convey it clearly to you.
The short term procrastination is the usual kind of problem. You are stuck and look to get moving again. You may try various solutions, such as changing the way you take action, your working time duration or maybe trying to motivate yourself to get moving again. This form of procrastination is caused by laziness and the inability to face the truth that any worthy achievement requires actions. It is the common procrastination you may have already read about.
Long term procrastination, as the term suggests refers to procrastination over a long term time period, possibly causing you to procrastinate multiple number of times over tasks of similar nature. Each time you drag yourself out of its gravity, only to realize that the demon isn’t dead. It will return and you know it in your heart. Long term procrastination cannot be rectified by the solutions that would otherwise work for short term procrastination.
WHAT CAUSES LONG TERM PROCRASTINATION?
We humans have a simple like-dislike system. When we like something, it is based on a certain reason or good emotion associated with it. I “like” tasty food. Why? Because, it is tasty. Similarly, a child “likes” to play with his/her toys due to the immense joy and fun they experience.
Similarly, we dislike things that go against our reason or have an unpleasant feeling associations. Meeting with accidents, having fights etc, could be examples of such dislike.
Long term procrastination is caused by an unconscious dislike sitting deep within your subconscious. Perhaps deep down you know why you want to avoid doing your task. And this subconscious disliking isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Maybe there is a good reason behind you struggling to do that straightforward task. Perhaps, deep down you don’t really care. You know you are different. You are meant to be someone else, doing something far more fulfilling.
To make it clearer, let us take up a simple example. Imagine that there is a student who has a great liking to art. He loves to paint and spends most of his time at home making things come alive on the canvas. What would happen if he were to undergo an intense study of science at school? As you can imagine, he may struggle to study for a simple science test. Not that he is lazy or anything. It would be the deeper love for art that may keep him from otherwise, labour like other students. Assuming that the student doesn’t give too much thought into the social expectations and decides to focus on his inner calling, you would agree that his science test results may not be good. So is that student procrastinating?
Is this bad?
Listed below are few possible instances of long-term procrastination..
• Dissatisfaction from current career. (Finding it hard to go through another day of your job which is quite boring anyway.)
• Living a life that is more congruent to social patterns than your inner most desires. (Working at a job instead of building a side business that you’ve always wanted to build.)
• Making decisions based on mere financial benefits that go against your true nature. (Committing to unethical means to get customers to buy what you are selling)
WHAT REALLY NEEDS TO BE DONE !
While all procrastination begin as short term, some of them can be traced back to being long-term and thereby, are much more essential. They help you to gain awareness about your own true nature. You cannot run from who you are. They impart wisdom. And as soon as you’re walking down a path that is not meant for you, the silent alarm shall go off. And no amount of motivation or other tricks will help you continue down the wrong road.
“It is by digging deep into your procrastination, you may find the right boost to move in the right direction, and do something that you genuinely care about. And once you do that, you’ll find yourself procrastinating to procrastinate.”