We all procrastinate at some time or another — even the overachievers. But not all of us see our tendency to do it. Or understand why we do. It just sort of happens, right?
We have the best intentions.
We’re going to get up and work on the project we’ve been putting off — we’ve even put a few hours aside today to do it!
But at the end of the day, we spent the whole day doing other things.
Like tidying up our desk. Like sorting the silverware drawer. Like going through the boxes in the closet that we haven’t touched in months.
How did these things become so important?
Steven Pressfield, in his seminal book, “The War of Art,” calls this tendency The Resistance.
When we’re staring at an endeavor that has the power to change us, or lead to a fundamental shift in how our “comfortable” life is arranged, something happens.
We meet The Resistance, and we back down.
Our ego, the small part of us that craves comfort, despises change, and fears uncertainty, wants to keep things as they are.
And so, almost imperceptibly, we are led to do things not-so-important.
We fill our day with busywork. We check out and say, “Oh, I deserved a day off anyway.” Which may be true.
But we know we’re kidding ourselves. We know our avoidance when it happens. We feel it!
I’ve spent the past week staring at my tendency to avoid the tasks that I must do.
Even sitting here, writing this to you, I am watching as my attention is drawn elsewhere.
Email, other things of interest on my desk, my desire to just sit here and listen to the birds.
But I know what I’ve committed to. I know what must be done.
Not because someone is going to fire me if I don’t do these things, but because this is the life I’ve chosen.
The more strongly we commit to our vision for a better life, a better world, or simply more joy, the more momentum we have moving us forward when we’d rather hold off.
Each time we meet The Resistance and don’t back down, we are stronger for it. We’re expanding further and building steam.
At each crossroad, we can choose expansion instead of falling prey to old habits. Each step presents us with the opportunity to practice.
Stress Release Tip
Even if there’s a lot of work to do, balance is necessary. Balance your work with a healthy dose of play. If you were asked what you did to play today, how would you answer? Would you chuckle and say, “Play?! I’m an adult, silly!” Or would you answer, “Huh?” (Probably indicating that this word is no longer recognizable to a responsible adult like you who has many responsibilities and couldn’t imagine taking time for yourself to “play”), or would you happily list all the things you did to honor your inner child. Even as adults, we need this. You’ll be much happier for it.
Mindfulness is how we can catch ourselves following our worn pathways towards procrastination. You’re sitting there, focused, and, as you work, your mind begins to wander. Suddenly you notice that you’ve stopped working. You’re somewhere else. Take a breath, re-center, come back to the task at hand. This is mindfulness. Your homework is to be mindful of what you are doing. If you’re taking a break, do it fully. If you’re working, be it. If you’re at play, then lose yourself. Use the breath as your guide.
Quote From Adam
“Action is about living fully. Inaction is the way we deny life.”
– Don Miguel Ruiz
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