The habits I have, make me into the person I become for better or worse. One of my worst is procrastination. I have wrestled with this problem a significant portion of my life. It seems like I am always putting something off instead of doing it right away, especially if it is a task I don’t want to do in the first place. This lack of action isn’t because I am lazy, but because I don’t want to be a failure. I don’t want to be a phony or to put shoddy work out into the world. In the article from day two of this series, I listed several phrases that I like associated with my name. All of them had something to do with being a quality person due to my work ethic.
Here is where the trouble sets in. Those ideas of how I want to be known, stand before me like a majestic mountain that I desperately want to claim as mine. But the fear I have of climbing to the top to plant my flag is crippling.
What if I fall?
What if someone has already beaten me to the top?
What if I’m not strong enough?
What if I fail?
I can go two ways from here: either I can use my time wisely to prepare for the challenging task ahead, or I can fritter my time away worrying about if I should do it or not. I usually choose to fritter.
I second guess myself and the preparation I have taken, glomming onto any excuse for why I can’t possibly get started on the ascent right now.
The weather is not favorable, so I’ll wait for conditions to improve.
I don’t have the proper gear, so I’ll do some research first about what stuff will make the trek easier and safer.
I had better do some physical conditioning so that I can make it to the top. I’ll get stronger first before I start up the mountain.
I’ll hike around the base first to see if there is a more gradual place to begin my trek up.
All of the above excuses are entirely valid, prudent and wise considerations to take before ascending a mountain. But I am already fully equipped to climb and need no other preparation. But the fact remains, that the mountain still sits before me, and I have not taken one step up. I have made thousands of steps around it, but when it comes to the actual task of conquering it, I remain frozen in fear. The best way to climb a mountain is to take a step, and then another.
I have an irrational fear of failure. I delay the activity that I may fail at to stay safe and insulated from emotional pain and being exposed as a phony. My thoughts stick to the anticipated emotional discomfort, and I end up frozen in inaction. Procrastination is the big, red-flag catch in the whole Perfection-Ponzi scheme. The slogan for which might be: “You can be everything you’ve always wanted. We promise…Just you wait.”