What is the root cause of procrastination? According to Wikipedia, procrastination is “the practice of carrying out less urgent tasks in preference to more urgent ones, or doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones”. I think of it as avoiding something I don’t want to do, and I’ve been known to do ANYTHING other than the thing I should be doing (regardless of its pleasurableness), but I even procrastinate when it comes to activities I enjoy, like writing my blog posts.
I make lists, I plan, I do research – all to keep from actually performing the designated task. It’s frustrating, infuriating and embarrassing. Even my horoscope today is on my case: “You may have to make up for lost time later in the evening if your laziness gets the best of you early on.”
[For a brilliant, hilariously illustrated analysis of procrastination, check out the three-part series written by Tim Urban on the website Wait But Why (http://waitbutwhy.com): Part 1 (“Why Procrastinators Procrastinate”, October 2013, http://waitbutwhy.com/2013/10/why-procrastinators-procrastinate.html); Part 2 (“How to Beat Procrastination”, November 2013, http://waitbutwhy.com/2013/11/how-to-beat-procrastination.html); and Part 3 (“The Procrastination Matrix”, March 2015, http://waitbutwhy.com/2015/03/procrastination-matrix.html). Urban’s serious and yet uproarious (and accurate!) articles feature a primary cast of characters called the Rational Decision-Maker, the Instant Gratification Monkey and the Panic Monster. Reading all three pieces would be an ideal excuse for procrastinating!]
Every once in a while, it strikes me that I am an extremely lazy and entitled person, someone who believes she shouldn’t have to “work” for a living. Ah, if that were only the case! Sadly, I was not born independently wealthy. Even though I have managed to trim a lot of my expenses since cutting back on my workload, I am still awash in bills. I’m not interested in making money for the sake of having money; I just need to make ENOUGH. I’ve complained at length elsewhere in my blog posts about this disconnect in my life, starting way back in the early days (“Some Thoughts about Money and Music,” 3/10/15).
My greatest wish is that I could figure out what kind of job (or career) would pay me what I need to keep up with my bills while not making me miserable. At its core, this wish does not seem unreasonable. There’s just one problem: You may have noticed a distinct lack of specificity in the prior statement. This is because I have no idea what job (or career) that might be. It’s definitely not being a finance attorney, even though the income is substantial (too substantial to give up, frankly). In fact, I can identify a lot of jobs that it ISN’T. I just don’t know what it IS.
I’m afraid to try anything new because I don’t have the requisite experience – even as a lawyer – so I would need hands-on training, which would mean starting back at square one. Working for 10-plus years in my narrow specialty has created a situation where being an aviation finance attorney is all I know how to do in the legal world (and even at that, my knowledge is limited by my lack of background – and interest – in finance). I’m too far removed from my law school days to call upon the more generalized experience one gets while immersed in ongoing education.
I need to focus on job-seeking again and actually make some use of those books (What Color is Your Parachute? by Richard N. Bolles (Ten Speed Press, 2013) and The Encore Career Handbook by Marci Alboher (Workman Publishing, 2013)) I bought and subsequently abandoned when it came time to complete the extensive self-assessment exercises they pose to help the reader get focused and figure out next steps to fulfillment in his or her career (and, by extension, life, since we spend so much of our lives at work). Fulfillment is sorely lacking in my current situation, even though it pays well and gives me extreme flexibility. It’s just missing that third vital component, which is being able to experience personal satisfaction from the work. (Although I might be somewhat more accepting of my current position if I could legitimately turn it off at 7 p.m. or so, guilt-free, and not have to check emails vigilantly in order to be maximally responsive to our clients.) And don’t even get me started on my dread of networking and interviewing. Just thinking about those things makes me feel a little nauseous.
I’m 56 years old, for goodness sake! I should have found myself by now. And while I’ve earned some money over the past dozen years at the law firm while being miserable, I haven’t managed to squirrel enough away to have made the loss of my time worthwhile. Waa-waa-waa. I’m such a sorry-ass whiner. It’s got to stop. I can’t be so quick to fall into these doldrums. I need to FORCE myself to feel okay with my life. (It’s not even “good” – I’m willing to settle for just okay!)
I read a pithy quote today from the actor Hugh Laurie posted on the Facebook page of the blog Intellectual Takeout (intellectualtakeout.org):
“It’s a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you’re ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There is almost no such thing as ready. There is only now. And you may as well do it now. Generally speaking, now is as good a time as any.”
Of course, if I won the lottery, all my problems would be solved. I could help out more often at the animal shelter, and volunteer for Meals on Wheels, and God’s Love We Deliver, and wherever else I could be useful, doing work that satisfies me without having to worry about where the next paycheck was coming from. In fact, I’d be able to actually GIVE money to causes I care about. I wouldn’t be selfish or greedy or piggish; that’s just not in my nature. I would be a deserving recipient of the millions and would pay it all forward. And I could finally be happy – now, not at some future time when I’m “ready”. I’m ready NOW!