I've been living with a lot of broken things lately. My car's Check Engine light was on for almost a month. My ice maker stopped making ice a long time ago. And my computer kept freezing up on me for 30 seconds at a time off and on, all day every day for at least a month.
For a while, I chose to just live with it all. I had lots of excuses. I don't have time. I can live with it. It can wait. It's not urgent. I can't afford it. Other things are more important.
This procrastination mindset started affecting other areas in my life. I had a goal to write a new blog post once a week but I've been putting it off for a couple of weeks now. I started a new blog post one day but I didn't really like the direction it was going - so I just stopped. I wasn't in the right mood. I didn't have the motivation. Something was off.
Finally last week I hit a breaking point. I could no longer put up with my computer freezing up on me all of the time. I was tired of not having ice readily available. And my car was jumping as I accelerated and I realized that whatever was wrong with it might get worse if I didn't take it in.
So I called a computer guy who remotely cleaned up my computer. It took an hour or so and $150 but now my computer runs like new again. And my sanity has been saved! This one repair is worth its weight in gold to me.
I called about the warranty on my ice maker and a repairman was sent out to fix it free of charge 3 days later and now I have all the ice I want again. Why didn't I call months ago?
And I took my car in to the repair guy down the street. I had to leave it with him for a couple of days and that meant that I had to drive my husband's car and he had to drive his big truck. But we survived. My repair guy fixed a couple of small things which cost me $253. My Check Engine light is off and the car is driving well again. Relatively painless.
Now I feel as if a ton of weight has finally been lifted off my shoulders. I am free!
These are all minor problems to have to deal with. But still, they each added up to more and more stress on me. The question is - why did I live with them for so long instead of dealing with them as soon as they became problems?
Procrastination is a slippery slope. A vicious cycle. You don't feel like doing something so you put it off. You think that by putting it off you are saving yourself from stress or grief. You put it off for so long that you start to feel guilty about it. The stress builds because you still have a problem to deal with and time is running out. You start taking your frustrations out on people around you. The guilt and the stress overtake you until you finally do what you should have done days or weeks ago. Only now you are rushing and anxious about it and probably not giving 100% or doing your best work. You just want to get it over with.
Even the best of the best face the old procrastination monster from time to time. Victor Hugo, the great French poet and novelist, whose masterpieces include the epic historical novels Les Misérables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, had a unique method to stave off procrastination: he had his servant strip him naked in his study and not return with his clothes until the appointed hour.
I started writing my first novel, Naupaka Blooming, seven years ago. I procrastinated A LOT over that 7 years and now that I've finally finished it and published it I desperately wish I had not procrastinated for so long. I wasted a lot of time.
If you are anything like me then you want to figure out how to overcome the procrastination beast the next time it creeps up on you.
First - figure out the why. Why do we procrastinate? It all comes down to fear. We fear the task will be too time consuming or too difficult. We fear we are not capable of handling the task. We fear that we are not smart enough or strong enough. We fear the outcome - the expense, the grade, the opinion of others.
Then - just start. No matter what. Move past the fear. The only thing to fear is fear itself. Wise words from President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Fear will keep you from reaching your potential if you let it.
Stop the negative self talk and start thinking positively. Your attitude determines your direction. You are more than capable. You are smart enough. You are strong enough. You can handle this!
Remove the obstacles in your path. If you need to go to the library, coffee shop or park to concentrate then get going.
Get organized and make to do lists. Break your project down into small manageable tasks. Start with simple easy things. Checking tasks off your list will help build momentum and give you the confidence to finish.
Whatever it is that you are currently dealing with - fixing a broken car, starting on that term paper or novel you've always wanted to write, or starting an exercise or diet program - I promise you will feel a million times better if you just get going on it. Right now! Today! Don't let procrastination talk you into putting it off until tomorrow. Or next week. Or next month. You will regret it.
Whew! I feel great now that I finally got my next blog post done! One more thing off my list...
On that note, I'm off to join that local gym I've been meaning to join for several months now...
What are you putting off?
Interested in checking out my first novel, Naupaka Blooming? Read the first chapter for FREE!
I'm a romantic at heart with an overactive creative mind and an artistic soul. I've always been an avid reader - I read as much as I can as often as I can! Writing has been a life long dream that I haven't allowed myself to pursue until just recently. In April I finally published my first novel - Naupaka Blooming, a Hawaiian Reincarnation Romance. And now I'm working on the first book in a new fantasy thriller series called Summer's Shadow.