10 Habits to Break :: procrastination

man_looking_at_stack_of_papers There is a rhythm to all that we do, and don’t do.

What we allow and avoid, what we do and don’t and how we invest in the day and waste apparent opportunities serves to give insight to who we are, what we believe true and even our trust in all that is bigger, in God.

Despite common knee-jerk response, procrastination isn’t a total package negative thing.  Quite simply, procrastination is to intentionally delay in doing something.  Not completing an assignment could be the result of not knowing how to complete the assignment.  The inactivity cannot be a fully bad thing if the alternative is to complete the assignment incorrectly.  This space, or pause, on the way to finishing the assignment can be the precise place of learning and maturity. Often, in difficulty, learning escapes us.

As we sat there angled across from each other at the dining table, she just stared at the problem, deadlocked in can’t and frustrated with my question.

“What do you think?” I asked.

Silence hung between us as if she didn’t hear my question so after an extended pause, I asked her again, and again.  Finally, she forced out a frustrated response making it clear that if she did know, she wouldn’t just be staring at the problem but would solve it.

Elizabeth, my oldest, is a lot like me, in that she fears not being able to measure up to who and what she should be in her mind.  I struggle with it as a writer, as a father, as a son and everything else that I set out to accomplish.  If I can’t win, I quit.  It’s the reason I quit writing my book hundreds of times before I thankfully finished.  Just as Lizzie was deadlocked in her inability to solve a new mathematical word problem, I disengage in times I don’t have the answer, can’t see the process to completion or don’t know how to handle myself.

Procrastination, in and of itself, is not the enemy, but a needful pause to impulse or incomplete thought calling for space to process.  And yet if inactivity is the only effort given, procrastination grows into habitual response.

More so, the cause for procrastinate behavior allowed and extended must be dealt with.  I have to overcome fear of failure, disappointment or inability, in times of procrastination to avoid habit setting in deep ruts and rhythms in my life.

Back at the table, in the paralyzing silence between us, I asked a new question, one that nudged her thoughts into action.  I didn’t give her the answer to her problem directly, but tried to lead her to fearlessly trying even though she was insecure in her ability to answer correctly.  The point wasn’t whether or not she answered correctly, but that she moved from inactivity to activity as to avoid procrastination only setting in as a defining habit in difficulty.

Simply, she solved the problem she thought unsolvable by continuing.  It’s amazing the things we could do if we only did not procrastinate them away.  Snoozing the alarm clock every morning could be just snoozing the alarm clock, or it could be a habit chosen, given space to grow and affect your action and aim in life.  Just as waiting until the eleventh hour to finish a project you committed to, avoiding responsibility while given to any and all available distractions, rescheduling meetings, pausing in pursuit of a dream bigger than yourself and shelving all hope that you can accomplish what you set out to.

Procrastination delays many abled men from doing what they ought to do - but it is always the man who determines himself not abled that habit of delay becomes a growing regular foe.

In breaking unwanted, unhelpful habits, it is not enough to just stop doing something.  That habit must be replaced with a better understanding.

In each moment I begin to fade from difficulty and withdraw to inactivity, I pray for the grace God has built into each day.  Whether I lack the creativity to transpose thoughts to paper accurately or parent my daughters through difficult waters, grace gives me the courage to pause properly knowing that God will be faithful to lead me through.


image credit: philnel.com