Procrastination : A Theory

This weekend, I watched the Rankin/Bass Rudolph The Red-nosed Reindeer classic (yeah, for like the 38th consecutive year, or so). Don't laugh, now; I can find a deep, intellectual moment in the dumbest TV, if necessary... One of the more useful spiritual observations I came away with this time concerns the song Rudolph's doe-friend, Clarice, sings to comfort and encourage him:

"There's always Tomorrow, for dreams to come true…"

Aha! I've identified yet another place in our collective childhood consciousness where we may have picked up damaging concepts about Hopes, Dreams, and that ageless enemy, Time.

There's always Tomorrow…

True; the only problem is that Tomorrow is not Today, and Today is where everything happens. Your Future is a wonderful place -- it's where you keep all your Great Ideas and Big Dreams. Even though you ideas come to you in the Present, you immediately put them in the Future for safe keeping.

A great idea is exciting. Hopes and dreams are wonderful things to have around. The fantasy of realizing your Ideas -- bringing them into existence, giving them form -- is the Dream. The thought of actualizing dreams, considering all the work involved, can be daunting.

So you back up a step -- back to the fantasy, the exciting part.

You already have the Big Idea, and you can see the Dream of your having reached the finish line, reaping the benefits of the follow-through… You can see the necessary Action Steps laid out before you -- it's a long hard road, but you can see where it leads.

So why do you stop, and not begin immediately taking the steps to get there? Why do you come back again and again to this beautiful view of your goal and yet decide, each and every time, to put off beginning the work?

It's because you're lazy, right? You don't have it in you to do the work… Or maybe it's not such a great idea, after all, and you'd rather not face the facts. Maybe you're preserving the dream. Maybe you're protecting the beautiful view of your future. It's so awesome, and so wonderful, it keeps your future bright. Your goal fills your horizon with hope and possibility. Your future looks wonderful as it is, and you love having a future where your dreams come true.

Yes, the fear of success comes into play -- bringing your future into the present would change your life; your success has repercussions. Are you afraid of the changes that success would bring?

Admiring your pretty future is a promise. That promise doesn't change the present, but it makes the difficulty of Now more bearable.

If you achieve your dream -- if you arrive at your goal -- if you successfully bring the future into the present -- then to some degree, even if you make it happen, and you're wildly successful, you have destroyed that vision of the future.

It's not out there anymore, whispering to you of a better life, someday -- it becomes real, it starts happening. The future is changed.

By keeping a dream alive in the future, you are protecting your hope. You love that potential, and you don't want to see the end of that gorgeous Tomorrow -- you need it. You love it.

So, I have a theory about the monster you've made out of procrastination:

Procrastination is not your enemy, after all.

Procrastination is not your fear of doing the work, your fear of failing, your fear of not finding your way, or your fear of discovering that your big idea wasn't as Big as you thought.

Procrastination is not an evil, self-defeating force that plans to undermine your goals and to make sure you never make it happen, fueled by his secret knowledge of how much you suck and don't really have it in you.

Procrastination preserves your dream.

Procrastination works for you -- he's entirely on your side -- fiercely defending your bright future. Procrastination loyally guards the idea you hold most dear. Procrastination keeps it on that pedestal -- pristine, full of hope and promise.

Procrastination is the guardian of your future -- he transforms you into a happy ass chasing a carrot on a stick. And maybe he believes he's doing exactly what you've asked him to do...

Seek Wisdom -- Practice Love