(Originally published in 2005.)
I’ve been putting off writing this article for weeks, now. Every time I plan on sitting down to write it, I find myself distracted by something else that catches my attention. A few minutes ago, I was temporarily distracted by the bright idea to surf the net for articles about procrastination. I almost got sucked into spending a half hour or more reading about procrastination and fear, instead of writing about procrastination and fear! Fortunately, I recognized what I was doing, and quit after about five minutes. Otherwise, this article would never have gotten written!
Like many others, I must confess that I have very strong procrastinator tendencies. Okay, forget “procrastinator tendencies” – I am procrastination personified! If you don’t believe me, just ask my mother. She’ll tell you that, and a whole lot more about me than you’ll ever want to know! Like that time there was a squirrel in the house… but I digress.
The truth is that, in many cases, I procrastinate because I’m afraid. Now, exactly what I’m afraid of depends on what I’m putting off doing. In the case of this article, I’ve procrastinated because I was afraid that a) I’d sit here at the computer and no words would come out, and b) that whatever eventually did come out would be lame, boring, poorly written ca-ca, of no interest to anyone other than myself and the handful of people I bribe regularly to say nice things about me. At other times, I’m afraid that something really good will come out of it that I’m not sure I can handle. Fear of success can be as paralyzing as, or sometimes even more paralyzing than fear of failure. Success usually involves change, and let’s face it change is scary!
“So what do I do about it”, you ask. Just do it. Don’t worry about it being perfect, or awful. Don’t fill your mind with “what-ifs” and visions of others pointing and laughing (or not laughing, if you’re performing stand-up comedy). Sit down, and just start. You don’t even have to do it all at once. Break it down into more manageable pieces, if need be, and do a piece at a time. One of my favorite expressions that I use with my clients is “baby steps” – taking small actions and steps towards your goal. Even small actions are better than not taking any action at all. (Oh, and if you’ve never seen Bill Murray take “baby steps” in “What About Bob?”, rent it! It’s hilarious!) Once you start, you’ll build up a momentum, just like I did when I finally sat down and started writing this article. Then, before you know it, it’s done!
Oh, and about that squirrel… back when I was a junior in high school, my best friend and I came home early after a day out with my mother and aunt, to find a squirrel in the house. He (or she) was perched on my bedpost, to be exact. We tried to lure it out of the house with pieces of peanut butter bread, to no avail. We went out with some friends, but I left my mother a note about the squirrel. To this day, she believes that I lured that sucker into the house. It’s now twenty-four years later, and she still has the note! Talk about scary!
© 2005 Carol Martzinek. All Rights Reserved