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I know it sucks, I know it doesn’t work, I know it feels terrible—and yet I still do it all the time.
It’s one of those bad-feeling habits that just doesn’t want to leave me.
I don’t procrastinate with everything, but I do procrastinate with certain things. And I know what those things are. I have spent time watching myself, observing myself, and learning about my habits, patterns, and tendencies.
It’s either because something feels too big or overwhelming, or something about it is causing me fear, or I’m not sure how to start, or I don’t like doing the thing that I’m procrastinating.
I know this pattern, and yet, I still find that I give into it all the time.
I’ll keep putting the thing off, waiting for the “right” time, coming up with reasons why I can’t do it. Reasons that feel justified, and yea, maybe on some level they are—but they’re also just excuses, and our minds can always come up with “reasonable” excuses.
But procrastination never works, and it doesn’t feel good. All it does is cause us more stress and discomfort.
And all that stress and discomfort just keep hanging around, lurking, filtering in and out of our minds all day, every day…until we finally do whatever it is we need to do.
I’m going to be moving soon, and I’ve noticed myself procrastinating with a lot of things pertaining to the move. For a while, I’d think about all of the things I had to do in my head…and just not do them. Ship things. Decide what to bring. Wash clothes. Pack things. Ugh. I’m not a fan of packing or unpacking! (Hence, the resistance!) Also, resistance to the shipping because I wasn’t sure of the process and felt like it would be a huge ordeal.
One afternoon, while telling my therapist about how stressed I was, he said that maybe I should just make a list and do something on the list and then cross it off. Yea, I know, I thought in my head. I love making lists. I know they work. I usually live by and give the same advice he gave me…but I still wasn’t doing it!
But that afternoon, I did it. I did something. I made that list and after I got done talking to him, I pulled out all of my clothes and started sorting through them. I felt so much better afterward! (Duh.) A couple of days later, I went to get the boxes for shipping. A few days after that, I sucked it up—amidst a whole thick slog of resistance—and forced myself to actually ship the things.
I felt so light afterward—like a burden had been lifted.
And that’s the thing: we always feel lighter when we do the things that we’re avoiding. And also, once we do the things, we realize they weren’t so big or horrible or difficult or overwhelming to do. It just feels good to have finally, actually done them.
The only way I know how to deal with procrastination is to just force myself to do the thing I’m avoiding.
Usually, I’m all about not forcing things—trying to learn how to not force but rather flow, to allow, to soften. But with procrastination, it’s the exact opposite. I just have to force.
I think we just have to force it. We could sit around forever inquiring into why we’re resisting and procrastinating what we have to do (and yes, there is value in understanding this and in learning about ourselves and our patterns), but unless we also take action, we’ll never make progress. We have to just do the things.
There are reasons why we procrastinate, and those reasons will never resolve themselves through putting something off. We’ll just keep avoiding it. The resistance won’t lessen. We won’t suddenly like doing whatever it is that we’re avoiding.
What I’ve noticed (of course) is that the thing never feels as big or hard or terrible as I think it will—and I always feel lighter and more peaceful after doing it.
Years ago, I read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. In the book, one of the practices she suggested was to just do whatever the thing is that we don’t want to do right away—the moment we think about it, just do it.
I actually started to do this and made it a habit—and it worked! It always felt so good to just do the thing right away; I felt so light and free.
Well, I fell out of the habit, but I’m trying to be better. I want to be—because procrastinating is just not working. It sucks. It feels terrible. And it just causes a whole bunch of unnecessary stress.
The only way I know how to do this is to just do the thing.
Force it if we have to. At least start it.
The resistance lessens when we just start.
And we always feel better when we just do the thing we’re avoiding.