Always Put Off ‘Til Tomorrow What You Can Do Today (part 1)

Let’s talk about procrastination. Nah…maybe later (just kidding). It probably wouldn’t be a news flash to you that procrastination causes me some misery. And that’s because it probably does the same to you. Right?

Okay, how many times have you done something like this? I have maybe two clean dress shirts hanging in my closet. I’m out and about, and though stopping by the cleaners isn’t on my to-do list (as if one really exists), I realize it’s just up on the right. I’m 30 seconds away from a very easy turn-in and I suddenly say to myself, “Ah, maybe some other time..” And on I drive.

Is that goofy or what? Come on, what are you doing that’s similar? I mean, we know this kind of thinking and behavior is typical of folks who lean toward the depressed and anxious. So what’s up with that?

Well, let’s start with two very common symptoms of a dysphoric mood, avolition and anhedonia. The former being a loss of will to do things one has to do. The later is a loss of interest in what were at one time pleasurable activities. You’ve heard of “hedonism,” the belief that pleasure is the only thing that makes life worth living. Like those Hedonism Resorts. Well, no doubt, avolition and anhedonia generate procrastination.

I also believe procrastination is a byproduct of our inclination toward social avoidance. It’s so easy to put off doing something when we know it involves the unpleasantness of social interaction. No way do we want to do much of anything that risks a violation of our personal comfort zone.

Now, this one’s a huge player, and absolutely baffling and potentially dangerous. I’m talking about the influence of self-deception and magical thinking. How ‘bout this? Your lab test results are back and the doc calls you to schedule an appointment to talk things over (which is never a good thing, right?). Well, you show for the chit-chat and the doc tells you you’re pre-diabetic. And she reviews a detailed plan to sidestep type 2 diabetes.

So you leave, relieved there’s something you can do about your sad old self. And as you’re driving home you formulate a mental plan to get the diet and exercise one-two punch going. But later that night you get to thinking about things and come to the conclusion that embarking upon the journey to avoid type 2 diabetes would make the perfect birthday gift. So you justify putting off the intervention. Only problem is your birthday is two months away.

And, somehow, you really believe no damage will occur as you wait to blow out the candles. You even believe the whole mess may well resolve itself.

Okay, one final thought here. You know as well as I this procrastination business isn’t reserved for the unpleasant tasks of life. It absolutely comes into play when we’re expecting something nice…a reward. Why in the heck would we put off doing something that’ll bring us strokes? I believe it’s a matter of low self-esteem. What else could it be? We simply don’t believe we deserve goodness, so we put off doing what it’s going to take to get a dose.

Well, that takes us through part one of the series. Tomorrow we’ll wrap things up by discussing what we can do to positively impact our procrastination troubles.

It’d be great if you’d share some of your famous feats of procrastination. Go ahead – leave a comment.