Sunday, January 2, 2011

Resolutions and Procrastination

I've been thinking about firing up the old blog again for months and kept putting it off. Why? I don't think I can answer that. I think part of the problem was the longer I left it dormant the more profound I felt the next posting should be. WARNING: This blog post is NOT going to be profound. There, now that that's out of the way, we can continue.

I'd also been thinking about New Year's Resolutions, as one does at this time of year. The more grandiose the better, right? But as I mentally listed the various steps that I could take to improve various aspects of my life, I was left with the absolute certainty that none of them would last past January 18th, if that long.

So, what to do with all these rambling thoughts? Is there a value in resolutions? They say that most people's resolutions rarely make it past February. So, why make them? For me, they seem to have value in that they let us articulate, if only to ourselves, what our highest aspirations are for ourselves. They let us visualize a better us and offer the opportunity to take some steps toward that better self. Sure, many times we don't succeed to the level we envision to begin with. But that's really not the point. Any notion that "perfection" is actually attainable is doomed to failure. However, the awareness of goals and incremental steps in their direction offers us a focus and motivation to move forward in our lives rather let them idle indefinitely.

The trick is to make resolutions realistic and not restricted. If I say that I will lose 46.5 pounds and then only lose 35 have I really failed? Sure I didn't hit a magic number, but I made measurable progress towards an overall goal. Once the sense of failure is allowed to settle in, it is far too easy to give up entirely and slide back into behavior or thinking that we have admitted to ourselves is not in our best interests.

So I propose a more realistic model. Choose an area of life that you'd like to see an improvement in and then resolve to improving it in some realistic way. Small bites, in small time periods; rather than grand gestures over long periods of time, would seem to have more chance of some sort of success.

Given that I haven't written here since last February, you might have guessed that my major bug-a-boo is procrastination. Surprised? I could get the gold on the Olympic procrastination team, if such a thing existed. This is only made worse by the fact that I am very good at working under pressure. If a task doesn't have any other challenge associated with it, then I add one by putting it off as long as possible. It certainly gets the adrenaline going, heart racing, etc. However, I'm finding that I'd much rather approach things in a more peaceful manner. Goodness knows that life hands us enough adrenaline inducing events without adding to it.

So my resolution for 2011 is to reduce my chronic procrastination. Notice I don't say eliminate, just reduce by some amount. I've been at it since I was in high school; I have no illusion that I can quit cold turkey. I will attempt to do assignments as they come in, rather than just before they're due. I will attempt to do the laundry before I'm totally out of clean clothes. I will respond in a timely manner to all communication. And I will blog in something approaching a regular manner.

Happy New Year, everyone!


Elizabeth said...

I'm looking forward to it!

Knitman said...

It would be good to have writing regularly again.

ccomotto said...

Maybe you haven't posted NOT because you're a procrastinator, but because you are busy and happy with life at the moment. I think we tend to post more when we are not as engaged in things happening in our lives. Either way, I'll look forward to your posts!

Nan said...

You may be right, Chris. I have been busy and not mulling over things as much as I did in the past.

Thanks, Colin and Elizabeth!