I had wanted my next post to be about tolerance, because I believe it is tied up with accepting failure among other things. But here I am, almost two months after my last post, thinking about how I was going to be so good about blogging at least once a month if not every other week, and I thought I’d write instead about my theories on why I procrastinate. And yes, if you’re wondering, I’m writing a post about procrastination as a way to procrastinate on writing my post about tolerance.
I am a world-class procrastinator. I believe most of us believe that of ourselves, and most of us believe it’s more true of ourselves than anyone else could possible understand. But, for me, that’s actually the case. No, really! Even procrastination brings out my competitive side.
But, hear me out. I do think there is a connection between competitiveness and procrastination. I procrastinate because there is some innate part of me that needs to be better than everyone else at everything I try. And so the wait to decide if I’m going to try. It’s almost as though I’m evaluating whether I can win whatever imaginary competition is in my head before I decide to play.
I am taking a course with Heather Demetrios, writer and leader of Pneuma Creative. We had a discussion recently about how the options in my head for any task or endeavor are win, lose, or don’t play. I’ve been trying to switch my mindset to play or don’t play. We play for fun and sheer joy, but also with a sense of internal purpose that requires work and grit. It’s not about winning or losing, it’s about the process. And the “not play” option is just as important as “play.” We need to give ourselves the freedom to feel as though we have a choice in the matter. This helps us to operate from a place of wanting to do things instead of having to do them, which allows us to grow beyond what we think is our potential instead of merely having to fulfill an external goal.
What does all of this have to do with procrastination? If it’s about play and not about winning- if I can sit down at my computer and write because I want to and not because I’m trying to be the best writer ever- I don’t have that sense of stagnation and nothingness (or the sense that my house needs to be cleaned before I start) that I do when try to fulfill what is ultimately an empty goal. It is extremely unlikely that I’ll ever be deemed the best at anything, except at being me. That’s my only true win, and it’s enough.
So the next time you are staring at a blank canvas or screen, remember you’re just playing.