Procrastination has become a dirty word in an economy built on productivity, product life cycles, and publication deadlines. We may admit we procrastinate in that flippant, self-deprecating way without filling in too many of the ugly details.
Procrastinating on really big projects like fixing up the house makes sense or a dissertation. That is perfecting understandable, but when we’re struggling to clean the cat box, get our kid to the dentist, or change the oil in our car --- not so much.
There's a lot of shame in these types of “it only takes 15 minutes” kind of obligations, yet ironically we probably aren’t too judgmental of others.
I have a vision for my life. I’d like to see what you think of it. Here’s the rough sketch: Each time I walk in the front door of my home, I feel as relaxed as if I just left a Swedish massage… It’s so tidy that it’s as if no one lives there. Best of all it smells of waffles -- with butter and real maple syrup.
My friends swoon at the vibe I’ve got going on. My dinner parties are The Dinner Parties. The philosophical conversations stimulate both inspired thoughts and raucous laughter.
Magazine photographers ask to capture my eclectic style for their glossy rags. All of this is funded by a flourishing writing career complete with a best seller. My ideas fly from my fingers unto the computer keyboard as wholly-scripted, witty prose.
Oh! And I am thin too! The kind of model-thin where clothes look better on me than on a hanger. And I do not have lumpy thighs. Nope. No lumps here.
The problem is that between this vision and my current reality there is a gap. A gap the size of my actual thighs -- the ones that haven’t seen a yoga room since 2010.
While nesting in an unmade bed joined by a basket of unfolded laundry and my cat, I struggle to compose my muddled thoughts.
I don’t feel witty and I am rather grumpy about it. My kitchen does smell like waffles, but I feel overwhelmed by the stack of sticky dishes and a batter-drenched mixing bowl.
The holidays are over, and the gifts I looked forward to giving are with their new owners. I’m feeling as deflated as the unstuffed stockings.
As I look toward another year I can’t tell if I am feeling disappointed, or if I am the disappointment. These gloomy days are getting dark. The idea of new year resolutions occasionally float through my mind, unformed and illusive.
Living here in the gap – no, make that the chasm between my ideals and my real life is painful.
Being an idealist is not an easy thing to be. In my last blog post: Thriving as an Intuitive Person During the Holiday Season, I noted that this idealism often leads me into just these types of situations. My sparkly dreams only highlight the less desirable aspects of my actual life.
There really should be a word for this place. A place where the energy I desperately need in order to fold laundry, run errands, and generally be a productive human evaporates from every pore. Oh wait, there is a word for this place. It’s called Procrastination.
Procrastination is a dissolute place of scorched, cracked earth. It’s a place where Wiley Coyote never wins and life goals blow away in the desert winds.
The brilliance of the vision correlates to the width of the gap.
The greater the idea, the more steps there are to get there.
The more grand and impressive, the more I feel overwhelmed.
The greater the chasm, the more I wonder how I’ll get to the other side.
An intuitive person is a visionary person.
We have brainstorming brains.
Our mind rifts off simple stimuli to create lots of new ideas.
We have grand ideas, even grandiose ideas.
We are mostly romantics.
All impressive ideas are grandiose until they are achieved, such as the world’s tallest building, machines that fly and moving pictures.
Intuitive minds think differently than the school system would like us to think.
The logic of convergent thinking is king, but the intuitive mind more often prefers divergent thinking.
Convergent thinking is like a multiple-choice question as it sifts through a pile of information to find The One and Only Right Answer.
Divergent thinking is a broadening of possible answers. By association and abstraction, one thought generates possibilities that branch out further into more possibilities -- like a snowflake. No need for a brainstorming meeting, we can do that at 2 a.m. when we wake up to use the bathroom.
There have been many visionaries in history, such as Frank Gehry and his amazing buildings.
Clearly, the imagination is a fantastic thing. Who could deny that?
But what happens when a visionary person isn’t patient or persistent enough to bypass the critics or manage their self-doubt? It’s not pretty!
When we create a fantasy in our mind’s eye and lack the ability to manifest it in the world, the gap becomes an inescapable, multi-tentacled Sarlacc monster swallowing our motivation. Meanwhile, we drift helplessly past the monster’s needle-sharp teeth and into its hungry beak.
No matter what our circumstances, we always have choices, right? We could choose to limit the vision. We can make it smaller and more doable. We could even keep quiet and live the prescribed life society often prescribes.
Except, there’s one problem.
Life and ideas are worth dreaming about!
The only thing more depressing then the chasm between our visions and our reality, is not having a dream in the first place.
When a person has a limited imagination, they tend not to procrastinate. It is the brain allowed to brainstorm does the procrastinating.
Ideas broaden the gap, widen the chasm, and can lower our motivation. The bigger the perceived gap between today and our desired future, the lower our motivation level.
Limiting your dreams may help you eliminate procrastination. But, it also limits you being truly alive.
Please don’t limit your dreams.
You might live in our shared dream house one day. It would make me happy to see your glossy magazine cover or read about it on your dynamic blog. Don’t try to squish your amazing voice or grandiose idea into a square box.
So, where is the happy medium? What are we to do with our romantic notions and grandiose ideas?
Here are three things to build a bridge over the chasm.
Enlist help from others
Find someone with strengths that complement yours.
Find someone who loves to break things into small, linear steps.
Driving 100 miles per hour, your focus is straight ahead. Your passengers can see the roadside details.
Break the inertia
Let go of your complete vision.
Break your idea down into smaller steps.
Turn the power of your Brainstorming Brain towards this question: What one thing am I willing to do right now for 30 seconds?
Forget that there is a basket of unfolded laundry.
- Don’t think too much about the future.
Focus on this present moment. Would I be willing to pull out one item from the pile to fold? Just choose an easy-to-put-away item.
Once you’ve figured out how to break the barrier of inertia, you may find your motivation is back.
Our creative brains love to play games, so make a game of it. You can even create an exciting challenge for yourself.
For example - can you write 100 words today or five silly songs this week?
The idea is to break the inertia over and over again until your new superpower has the magic of momentum - the “moving force.”
So, what would you be willing to do to get the momentum going on one item that’s overwhelming you today?
We all have the ability to let go long enough to find one small doable act.
For me, my resolution is to practice breaking my inertia until I become a martial arts master at inertia breaking. Will you join me?
This blog post was written by Michelle Bohls.
In her Austin-based private practice Michelle Bohls specializes in working with all types of artists and intuitive people in their work and personal relationships. She is certified in EMDR, Group therapy (CGP), and is a Faculty Candidate in the Imago International Training Institute.
Her current focus is on doing couples workshops, training therapists in Imago Clinical Work, and training professionals in diverse non-clinical fields as Imago Facilitators.
Check out her website too!