Stop Procrastinating – From Tomorrow…

We need to accept our ambitions as a gift rather than a curse and take effective action.

Two years in…

Before she came along, I had this crazy fantasy of having a shed-load of spare time to do things like watch more movies to expand my visual creative pallet, see my friends to talk, discuss and learn more about my many exploits, learn to play the piano, make works of art, enroll in training for that important exam I’d like to pass someday… and blog! Suffice it is to say that I have achieved none of those things. I have a to-do list piled higher than a new ream of printer paper.

I’ve spent a large chunk of my time being a NuDad dreaming about what I will do ‘next’. Being the harshest of my own critics, I firmly feel that the use and allocation of my precious time has been badly managed. I’ve gotten to the point where my admitted self procrastination, mixed with the time consuming duties albeit rewarding duties, that come with being a Dad have left me feeling a little… crap.

When I lay out the words the way I just have, I do often manage to convince myself that it’s laziness (like I said, I am my harshest critic). The reality is that it’s actually less of an issue with laziness and more to do with the level of routine that parenthood brings and REQUIRES! I’m not ashamed to admit that my entire life is now built around what my wife and child want and need, leaving me with the opportunity to convince myself that I have very little time for anything else. I’ve recently come to realise that this is simply NOT the case! I do have the time to write this blog regularly as well as read the books I want to read and get healthy etc. Shying away from cognitively challenging activities is often the result of convincing yourself that a routine is tiring, though I’m quickly learning that time-consuming and tiring are two entirely different things. What I need is the inclination and a true desire to break through the psychological inertia.

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Remove the emotion, and get practical.

With the bones of an action plan in place I’ve decided to take the following steps to (try to) master the psychology at play here. First of all I need to remove the emotion. Inertia is brought upon you by the belief that you’re not in the right emotional space to begin a task. ‘I’ll be in the mood later/tomorrow/next week’ is your worst enemy. You have to accept that the mental resistance exists and and break through it. Simply decide. Accept that your emotions can betray you.

Identify the mental block.

Second… identify the point of internal contention. What part of what I want to do is turning me away from doing it. Is it the idea and labour insensitivity of having to setup a new set of tools that’s stopping you? For example, a room in which you can paint/train/play etc. Is it memories of past failures? Have you tried this before and not gotten anywhere or seen results quick enough? You might really enjoy the task you wish to complete but the surrounding activity might not be as enjoyable. If you can identify this point of resistance you might find that you have a benchmark upon which to stop emotion from saturating the entire task at hand and help you work through the ‘pain’ of starting, making the journey and finishing.

Commit manageable amounts of time, consistently.

I’m actually confident enough to guarantee myself that the ‘big chunk of time’ I’m waiting on, will never arrive in my current state of mind. Waiting until the big day where I have enough time to focus, will leave me disappointed. The emotional pressure (can you see a pattern here?) of waiting for the day of all-guns-blazing-brain-and-creativity-firing-on-all-cylinders, action to arrive, and it never materialising is immense! Why the hell am I putting myself through this?! This brings me to step three. Relax my resistance with manageable time commitments. If its 15 minutes a day, then ensure it’s 15 minutes a day and no more, and no less. If the commitment is an hour a day then so be it. Set a reminder/time on that bloody phone that is constantly up your arse. Whichever way you do it, set a limit to the perceived discomfort and alleviate that inertia.

Stop buying things, and start DOING things.

What is very interesting is how many tools I have around me to be productive and achieve things. I have all of the equipment, subscriptions and activity aids to actually do the things I want to do. But even when all of this shit is surrounding me (and it is shit, unless I use it… which I don’t) I haven’t been particularly inspired to take action. I’ve often felt that buying into a task will spur me on the get cracking, but then so did every person with a bag of golf clubs in their garage which have now become a comfy living space for a family of massive spiders. Most hobbies and endeavors do require financial investment of some kind. However given this observation my fifth step is to stop buying things, and start DOING things. If I was to be honest with myself, I’ve looked at the unused running shoes, the MIDI keyboard, the camera tripod and resistance cables almost as consolation prizes for not doing the activity they’re made for. Yet another self inflicted emotional mind job through buyers remorse. It’s freakin’ relentless.

Parenthood comes with challenges that I’m all in for facing. My commitment to my family is unrelenting, which is a great thing and I should probably accept more credit than I give myself for this approach. We only have a finite amount of time on this planet, and if you’re truly happy with how you choose to spend that time, I salute you with all of the love and respect I can muster. I’m simply not happy with what I see as my personal inaction and like I said at the beginning, it’s made me feel like crap upon reflection. I can however see that my self inflicted bitterness at selling myself a little short is not ever going to help me.

We need to accept our ambitions as a gift rather than a curse and take effective action.

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