We all know the usual platitudes around the new year. We’ve heard them, we’ve said them, and it’s the same every year. “New Year, New Me”, “This is my year!” or the ever-increasing spate of diet and fitness articles books and well-meaning resolutions. It’s our traditional or perhaps even natural tendency to look forward optimistically, to prepare to succeed in the New Year. Sometimes, that’s where we stop.
Our seemingly bottomless pit of procrastination seems to be dug with a shovel labelled “Preparation”. We have phrases like “Proper Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance”, and “He who fails to prepare, prepares to fail”. These truisms exist because they are true. But coupled with an overactive ‘inner critic,’ preparation quickly spirals into the abyss of procrastination.
Most people have experienced this. We plan to do things. We make lists, we study, we prepare. But then things slip to the side a bit. We feel uncertain or hesitate for whatever reason. So, we review the lists and plans. This of course leads to revising the lists and plans and the cycle starts again. Notice what is missing? The ‘doing of the thing’.
Stop preparing to prepare! –Matthew Parks, Sr (paraphrased)
We’ve all been guilty of it to some degree, but it seems to be far worse when venturing into unfamiliar territory. We want to be certain that we’re not making a mistake, or that we won’t look foolish. In short, we fear failure.
How do we break the cycle? Honestly, I’m not sure the ‘best way’. Trying to find the best method/cure/path to righteousness/whatever is how we get stuck in that cycle to start with! So I propose to simply pick a path, perhaps not the “best path”, just “a path”. Take a few steps and see if it hurts. See if there are any obvious pitfalls ahead. You can usually change course if it looks too bad. Meanwhile each step takes you further from the Pit of Procrastination.
I’m not saying to go against all the truisms and advice and just jump into things without preparation or caution. That would be foolish. I’m saying let’s try to not get stuck in the prep and never do the thing. How will it turn out? We’ll just have to see, won’t we?
Meanwhile I’ve written an entire blog post on procrastination, based on my thoughts about how to stop procrastinating on writing a blog post. <shakes head>
Have a great year!