I have felt a bit stuck lately, not just with regards to this blog but with the way I live my life. I am a persistent procrastinator and I am guilty of this in many aspects of life. It was a prominent pattern when I was a student. Each night after a dissatisfactory day of avoiding work I would carve out a master plan for the next day to make up for the previous months of scatty, inconsistent studying. Inevitably, I ignored by alarm clock and distracted myself with a myriad of “urgent” tasks such as:
- ordering face cream
- salvaging wax from candles to make another smaller candle to avoid wastage (and to get a higher burn time for your money 😉)
- Ordering more candles to create a “study ambience”
- Researching all the best tools of productivity – bullet journals, the Pomodoro technique, time batching
- Reading the list of people who died in 2018 on Wikipedia.
- Watching “Study With Me” YouTube videos
- Researching all the actors that were in the film I watched the night before
- Reading all the How-To’s on how to be a Grade A student
- Making a playlist of Study Music
And so the pattern repeated and I became more and more convinced that I was stupid and lazy and not cut out for university and any other self critical adjective you can come up with.
Skip forward more than 2 years. I now work a full time job. I read a lot of Personal Development books and recently, as many people do at the start of a New Year, I have spent a lot of time thinking about how great my life would be if I could just cut out certain “bad” habits and incorporate healthy habits into my day-to-day lifestyle. I did the same in the middle of the summer 2020 and again in October, always coming up with the same 5-6 resolutions or “Healthy Habits”. Making plans and setting goals never fails to make me feel fulfilled and optimistic, for a short time anyway. In his book, Atomic Habits1, James Clear refers to this as being “in motion” i.e. in the planning stages. He posits that in forming good habits, however, this is not the same as taking action.
As for putting plans into action? I struggle. A case in point is this blog. It’s entirely for my own enjoyment, to gain skills, get me out of my comfort zone and is most simply, a creative outlet. Every time I write I get such a buzz from churning out probably nonsensical ideas. Regardless of it’s quality or relevance it’s a mood booster for me, I can’t explain fully – it just feels good. But still I write infrequently and inconsistently, which doesn’t really make any sense. Mr Clear1 provides us with the idea that the planning stages give us an impression of safety and we may subconsciously avoid venturing out to the action stages where there is a risk we may fail.
Fear of failing has definitely contributed to my procrastination in the past and I think there is still an element of this going on today. Therefore, to tackle this I have challenged myself to write anything and publish it, regardless of it’s quality or relevance. This haphazard blog post is the result of that experiment. If you have been patient enough to actually read this to the end, thank you very much!
P.S. Of course, I procrastinated on all my New Year goals to read Atomic Habits but I have no regrets because it resonated with me and I was able to gain a little self understanding. See – procrastination can be good sometimes.
A (rough) bibliography
- Clear J. Atomic Habits. Random House Business; 2018