I have often heard it said that procrastination is the lazy man’s disease. Which to some extent, I whole heartedly agree with. There are dishes in my sink right now, because quite frankly I was too lazy do them. Or just didn’t want to, which is really about the same thing. But there is a whole other brand of procrastination that I don’t think has anything to do with laziness. I think it has more to do with a lack of confidence. You are faced with a task – it doesn’t necessarily have to be a hard task or even a new task, it could be something that you do every week – and for whatever reason there is that kernel of doubt somewhere deep down that you can’t do it. Or that when you do it, it won’t be any good. So you put it off, you procrastinate. Every time you look at it, or think about it your blood pressure rises imperceptibly, and that crawling sense of dread creeps its way up your slowly restricting throat. So you put it off another day, another hour, another five minutes, until at the very last moment you complete the task with each step more pain staking than the last.
Of course, since you waited so long, and had to rush through to the completion with no time for revisions or fixes, it’s not going to be your best work. But it’s passable, or at least you hope so, and you breathe a sigh of relief that it’s over. Until you have to do it again, and the whole process starts over. By procrastinating, you are creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. A vicious cycle that will repeat itself until the end of time. You don’t believe that you will do a good job, so you put it off. By putting it off, you don’t do a good job. By doing a mediocre job you a reaffirm to yourself that you aren’t good at the task. This serves to dent your already delicate confidence, making it all the harder the next time around.
Until finally one day, you blow it off completely. You don’t fulfill your commitment, and maybe you get away with it this once. And this once you feel relief. You feel like you’ve slipped by this one time, so you’ll be able to do it next time. But then you shirk your responsibility a second and a third time, and all of sudden you’re not the one that does a mediocre job, you’ve become the person that lets everybody down. Those dents to your confidence have now become holes, rusting away and threatening the integrity of the entire structure. So you attack the task with a new vigor. You’re going to prove that you can be relied upon, but instead of the high praise needed to start repairing your damaged self, you get the cold reception of someone who finally did what they had promised all along. Thus the cycle starts all over again. A battle of confidence.
So how does one win this battle? How do you go about breaking the cycle and repairing the damage? Because you can’t rely on anyone else to do this for you, it’s not in their power. You alone can fix the problem, despite the fact that you feel as if you are the least capable person for the job. Little do you know, you are perfectly capable for whatever task lies in front of you, you have exactly the skills needed to succeed. It all starts with forgiveness.
This article is late . . . but it is done. I forgive myself.
This work is mediocre . . . but it is on time. I forgive myself.
This didn’t turn out like I wanted it to . . . but it is still works. I forgive myself.
I haven’t blogged in almost a month . . . but I’m working on one right now. I forgive myself.
And I will do better next time.