It makes me unhappy. And I still do it!
You procrastinate for two main reasons. First, you put off doing things because you are very busy and some things are at a lower level of importance. They are not a priority at the moment, so you put off doing them. Maybe this is not even procrastination, maybe this is just being intentional, wise, deliberate, and strategic about your life.
The second reason is much different. You put off doing things you don’t like to do. It needs to be done, but you don’t want to do it, so you don’t do it. Not now. Not in a timely way. You decide you will do it tomorrow, or the day after, or later, or some other time, or when it is more convenient.
That is procrastination and you have just made yourself unhappy. You have a moment of relief at not having to do something that you don’t want to do, but reality refuses to go away.
You still know that thing you don’t want to do is out there. That makes you unhappy.
You still know that you can’t put it off forever. That makes you unhappy.
You still know that when you finally do what you don’t want to do, it won’t be positive. That makes you unhappy.
All three of those statements describe the mental and emotional struggles you will carry with you. It is negative anticipation and it makes you unhappy. It takes the form of worry, anxiety, fear, discouragement, doubt, and perhaps even anger. By putting off what you don’t want to do, you have only delayed the inevitable. And you have not done away with thinking about it. And you know, like I know, that your thinking about it is going to be negative thinking. And the longer negative thinking goes on the worse it gets!
The answer is simple: Do it. That thing you don’t want to do. Do it.
- Make the doctor’s appointment.
- Have the painful conversation with a friend.
- Balance the checkbook.
- Look at how far in credit card debt you are.
- Deal with the conflict situation at work.
- Step on the scales and see the damage.
Just do it. Do it now. Or plan a specific time (very soon) when you will do it.
Pull out a pen and paper, or your computer, and jot down a few of your thoughts about the thing you don’t want to do. How can you prepare to do it? What will make the experience as good as possible? Pray about it. Make a plan. Think it through. Then – DO IT! And trust God for the outcome.
It may not go well. It may be painful. But you did it. Now you don’t have the negative anticipation weighing you down. Now you can make a plan about what to do next. You will probably have feelings of relief now that it is over. You may also have feelings of satisfaction, “Hey, I did it.”
And maybe it didn’t go so bad after all. Maybe it went really well. Maybe you will find that you had all that time of negative anticipation for nothing!
That happened to me recently. I had procrastinated, but not too long, just for a few weeks (!!!), and then I couldn’t avoid it any longer. I had the conversation. And it went fine! Later I thought, “Really. I spent those weeks bummed about that thing that turned out to be no big deal at all! I had all that worry for nothing!”
So, what are you putting off doing?
Just do it.
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