It might sound silly, but procrastination can actually be the best friend that you have ever had. How can that be true? Well, I might have also asked that same question numerous times, if I didn’t already know the answer.
Before I go into that, take a look at this quote –
‘If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away’ -HENRY DAVID THOREAU
For someone who has always been told that I am weird, strange, nutty, not normal and a host of other things, it would be easy to question myself, often. I am not adverse to thinking and acting differently, in fact I welcome it. I wouldn’t want to be what is considered normal, if only I really knew what that was. That different drummer that Thoreau mentioned, I hear it. It keeps drumming relentlessly, every single day.
I love that I have my own tune. Following the flock is definitely not for me. I am different, and quite happy to be just as I am. It is not that I am some sort of wonderful being. But, I can be a being, who is wonderful…..sometimes. The beauty of that, is that each of us can. You see, we are all wonderful at something.
I like to think that I can be wonderful at important things like showing kindness, listening, helping others and being empathetic. All of those things matter. The trouble is, that I can also be wonderful at things which aren’t so helpful, like procrastinating. At times, I have probably been one of the best procrastinators I have ever met. In the past, I would have been ashamed to admit that, but now I am quite happy to admit it to anyone. Why? Because I now know that it can actually be the best thing to happen, as long as we know the secret to how it can help us.
The word procrastination, has a negative vibe about it. When we hear, or think about it, we can be filled with dread, instead of the warm feelings which are so much more welcome. Procrastination can be seen as a dirty word. One to be brushed under the carpet ,in the hope that it will go away. The problem with that is, that when we try to banish procrastination, it tends to dig its heels in, and then hang around for longer, thus having the opposite effect.
How are we supposed to take that leap of faith if we keep procrastinating? Surely that can only make it worse.
If I was a gambler, I would bet everything that I have, on the fact that procrastinating can make it much more likely that you will be able to both finish what you want to do, and then go on to take that leap of faith.
How is that possible? To find the answer to that took me many years, and lots of heartache. I had to wait until I was at my lowest place, and build up from there. But, this isn’t about me. it’s about the lesson that I learned during that time.
As Adam Grant says…
‘Procrastination gives you time to consider divergent ideas, to think in nonlinear ways, to make unexpected leaps’ — ADAM GRANT
That all sounds good to me. I can almost hear that Leap of Faith running towards me already!
To either be, or think, in a divergent way, we have to consider doing something differently. If you procrastinate, that is perfect for you. Because what you have been doing, i.e thinking in your usual way, probably hasn’t got you anywhere near where you want to be. So, thinking or doing something differently, could yield much greater results, in a fraction of the time.
You could easily be forgiven for thinking that aiming in a straight line, so that you face head on with everything, would get you there more quickly than any other way. But, the nonlinear way that Adam Grant was talking about, can mean the exact opposite. If what you have been doing hasn’t worked, then the exact opposite if a real gift.
You need to make a choice. You either stick you head in the sand, stay in exactly the same place, and do what you have been doing, or you choose to try a new way, and to make a real difference to the outcome.
I know which one of those I would choose. For me, the choice is easy. I want to succeed. So, nonlinear and divergent ways, are those which I choose without hesitation.
If everyone who follows the normal patterns, succeeded every time, then I would choose that option. But, we all know that isn’t the reality. Most of us follow the same old patterns, in the exactly the same ways, and so get the same outcomes. It sounds a bit silly, but it’s true. We don’t seem to learn from it.
Spending time procrastinating, is a gift. It affords us the time, and peace, in which to really listen, and learn. The reason why most of us haven’t benefitted from procrastination before, is that we try to fight it. We allow it to annoy us. This annoyance ultimately couples up with worry, and the outcome in stress. This means that we get even less done, and it becomes a vicious circle.
What we need to do instead, is to welcome procrastination with open arms. Then hug it and love it like it was our best friend. The kindest friend that we had ever had. The one who would always help us the most. Because that is exactly what procrastination is. The most beautiful part about it, is that it will then go on and encourage us to take that Leap of Faith. Before that, it will instil in us, exactly what we need to be able to leap. Then it will guide us gently down, to a safe and productive landing. It will do all this, and more, if we only listen to it.
To get what you need to from procrastination, you need to be disciplined enough to listen to it. If you have to leave to get the children from school in half an hour, then set an alarm, and listen to the silence until then. If you are sat on a crowded bus, put your headphones in, and focus on a point in front of you. Don’t let anyone, or anything distract you from the silence. It is then that it will speak to you.