Why do we think of procrastination as a problem that needs to be fixed? Has your life not proven to you several times over that you tend to put off things that aren’t easy or that don’t give you any immediate pleasure? At what point, were you convinced that you had to struggle through life and force yourself to do anything?
We have a natural tendency towards pleasure and we shy away from pain. It’s not just us. All of the natural world has this tendency, for the most part. You’d be hard pressed to find a creature that craves discomfort and that would turn away from a positive stimulus.
Humans, like most mammals I’d wager, are hardwired to distrust anything that threatens our safety and sense of well-being. We instinctively trust sources of food and shelter. Or rather, we did when we lived in a more natural setting.
Humanity has fought hard to behave contradictory to the natural way of things. We control our lives with clocks and money, and go directly against our natural tendencies. We force ourselves to stay awake when we’re sleepy. When we eat and when we’re hungry aren’t always in sync. We no longer trust what is good because we’ve been conned and tricked before by other humans who are no longer part of the natural order. We’ve lost sense of what is safe and what isn’t, and wind up turning away from what we instinctively know to be good and turn towards what we’ve been conditioned to accept as necessary.
Because we have been brought up in an unnatural way of living, we have got accustomed to unhealthy habits of behaviour. This isn’t the fault of any one person. Most of the world is just living how they’ve been taught.
The problem is that this unhealthy way of living has become a lifestyle for far too long. It’s been a lifestyle for so long that few people are even trying to escape it. Most are trying to just live better lives within it.
Which brings us back to the unhealthy idea of procrastination.
You naturally do what excites and pleases you. If you love music, you might play the guitar so much, you’d forget to sleep or eat. You would never procrastinate on playing the guitar. In fact, what you’d do is procrastinate on other things by playing the guitar.
The problem that we call procrastination is not a problem at all. It’s forcing on you the idea that you must force yourself to do something that you don’t want because it is something that someone else wants. Or force yourself to do something despite not having the capacity for it.
And, yeah, I realise that most of us live in a world where we have to do things against our will for other people because they control our salary or our living situation or have some other hold over us. I don’t mean like in relationships with your lovers and friends and families when you willingly do things that you may not necessarily like but that you do because you love and care, not because you’ve been manipulated into doing it.
So, the crux of the message I want to convey is that we procrastinate on doing those things that hold absolutely no interest for us. And we procrastinate when we have no time or energy.
Well, the real question is either:
how do I force myself to do the thing that I don’t want to do so I can get the reward for doing the thing?
how do I get the reward by doing something I want to do instead of forcing myself to do this thing that I don’t want to do?
If you’re more interested in the answer to the former, perhaps this old article will be more suited.
If the second answer piques your curiosity, or your question already was more along the lines of “how can I get the time and energy to easily do this thing that I want to do?”, well, then I must excitedly tell you that that is the adventure you must embark on.
When you’re making your to-do lists, make them for yourself. What are your long-term dreams and desires? What are your short-term dreams and desires? Break them down into bite-sized actionable chunks and create to-do lists that are more meaningful to you.
Manage your time, carving out as much time for your own pursuits as possible. As soon as possible, turn something you enjoy into a marketable venture. Get coached, and get mentorship, and get advice. Don’t flounder about and fail before you begin. Do your research, figure out your strengths, network and meet people, find the information that you need. Do everything in your power to ensure your success.
The problem is never that you don’t want to do something. If you don’t want to do something, simply don’t do it. If you can’t immediately stop doing it, decide on an action plan to eventually stop.
If you find yourself not doing something that you do want to do, it’s probably because you are too tired from doing those things you don’t want to do, or you don’t have time because you’ve prioritised those things that you don’t want to do.
Your mission is to wean yourself off those things that you don’t enjoy and that don’t excite you and that don’t nurture you, and progressively replace them with interests that do excite and nurture and please and satisfy you. How you do this is your personal problem to solve.
In time, procrastination will fall out of your vocabulary. As you rest and relax more, and energise yourself by doing those activities that boost you, you’ll find that you do the things that you want to do more often. Rarely will you hold off on doing a project because rarely will you schedule any projects that don’t ring your bells.
The world is a playground, laden with opportunities to experience pretty much whatever we want to experience.
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