Some four weeks ago I got struck by a spell of procrastination. A lot of new things happened during a short period of time, which seems to have plunged me into the abyss. But I also learned (and am still learning) a lot from Mr. Procrastination himself.
You see, when you have to deal with big changes in life, it can feel like having the carpet swept under your feet. You might still think that you’re in control but that’s just the protective part of your brain that’s trying to comfort you with encouraging thoughts. So, you’re most likely not in control.
We humans have to live through various changes in life: unemployment, new jobs, promotions, firings, the loss of loved ones, relationships, marriage, breakups, graduations, pregnancy, parenthood, surgery… things that alter our daily lives, and things that can instantly make our laboriously developed habits crumble.
You can be living a very controlled and productive life, but all that is very prone to collapse when a single event sweeps you off your feet.
For instance, if you win the lottery and end up quitting your job, you might think that you’ll now have all the time in the world to pursue your hobbies. But when you are suddenly given complete control over your time, it can be incredibly hard to manage your time. The overwhelming amount of free time would more likely turn you into a couch potato.
Prolonged temporary comfort is perilous.
When you are struck by these spells of unproductivity and loss of purpose and control you do, however, eventually realize where you are at. You realize that if you keep going like this, it’s oblivion where you’re headed. You realize that you won’t learn anything new. You won’t improve your skills. Nothing will change. You might gain knowledge from all the YouTube videos you’re watching, but I doubt it will bring you much contentment in the long run.
It’s the comfort of staying where you are that takes you to oblivion. It’s easy to wake up in the morning, put on a bathrobe, brew a load of coffee for yourself, and arrive at your computer. You could be checking Facebook and YouTube all day if it were up to you. And you would just try to convince yourself that you can quit anytime you want: “I’ll start doing the stuff next week.” That’s all too familiar.
Recognizing the perilous road.
Putting things off like that is like waiting that you grow out of your cradle so you can start doing other stuff than drinking milk and getting your backside cleaned by others.
But when you realize the fact that you are getting consumed by procrastination, it can be extremely hard to take that first step and leave your temporary comfort zone. Leaving your comfort zone is never easy, but it’s the only way to make significant progress.
Sometimes procrastination is necessary to make yourself realize that you have to get off the looping highway. Procrastination can be a powerful too, but you have to combine it with thought in order to defeat it. You need to become aware of the perilous waters you’re sailing; only then can it become your guiding star (at which point you would try to poke its eye out).
We also have to realize that we can never completely destroy the God of Procrastination. After all, procrastination is one of those elements that makes us human. It’s okay to procrastinate as long as it doesn’t become an enduring obstacle. I agree with Leo Babauta on what he says about procrastination: “lazing around can be a beautiful thing.” By all means, if you love playing video games (like I do) why not devote one day to immersing yourself in the wonderful world of mushroom kingdoms and rocket launchers? As long as it doesn’t negatively influence the way you want to live your life.
- Don’t be afraid to procrastinate. It’s not a disease; it’s rather normal. And it can actually guide you when the procrastinometer is about to burst.
- Extreme procrastination will open your eyes. This is when you should meditate on your current state of life. Ultimately, where is all of what you’re doing taking you? Is that important? What is important? What should you change in order to get what’s important?
- Stepping out of your comfort zone is tough shit, to say the least. But you’ll be the f***ing grand champion for doing so. It takes serious balls, but all of us have the power to do so.