Procrastination — better now than later

Time has come to discuss procrastination – past time really. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a person who believes firmly that anything worth doing is worth thinking about and waiting another day to get started on. That, plus the fact that I’m a writer. Deadlines are apart of my business. They are regular as … well, deadlines. Therefore I hate them, I ignore them, I hope they will just go away. You could hold a gun to my head and say, “It’s time to write now” and I would find a way to avoid it until I heard you cock the hammer.

This is a problem most vexing when you are in charge of the project and there is no one but you to tell you to get it done. Thus, the blog I had intended to begin for some time now is yet to get off the ground. Actually it is being written even as we speak but we haven’t gotten to where I had intended to start the first posting, so we still are in negative territory and cannot be said really to have started.

I have a few favorite quotes about writing. They range from the dramatic, such as “Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead” (Gene Fowler) to the more whimsical, “The dubious privilege of a freelance writer is he’s given the freedom to starve anywhere.” (S.J. Perelman) Of course, my favorite comes from The Odd Couple (sitcom), Felix: “But Oscar, you love to write.” Oscar: “No Felix, I hate to write. I love ‘to have written.’”

With all this being said, it probably time to put this digression aside and get started with the blog post I had intended to write to get this entire enterprise underway.

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But I Am Digressing …

Column 1

Happy New Year!

That being said, I’ve never thought that the beginning of a new year was a good time to begin anything new. New Year’s Resolutions generally just set you up for failure, especially if that resolution concerns anything worth enough to make a resolution about. It is an arbitrary time to make a change in your life, the beginning of the year often is hectic and we rarely make the preparations necessary to begin something new.

Therefore, long ago I made a resolution not to make New Year’s Resolutions. It is one of the only resolutions I never had trouble keeping – except, that is, for once about 10 years ago. I figured it can’t be all that difficult, I’ll choose something not odious and prove it can be done.

So the New Year’s Resolution I made was to listen to the Grateful Dead (at least one song) every day for a year. Those of you who know me might chuckle at that. The first person I told sure did, “Don’t you do that anyway?” Well, that would be the whole point – do something not difficult to show that such a daily discipline was possible.

I don’t think I’ve gone through a year of as much annoyance and tedium as that year of listening to the Dead. I bought an alarm clock with a CD player and burned a Grateful Dead Good Morning CD (“Here Comes Sunshine” the first cut) to play as the alarm. I kept a case full of Dead CDs in the car, one almost always in the player. Still, by the end of the year, I was ready to beat my head against the wall just so not to have that one task to do … every day. What a relief for that year to end. I think I probably celebrated by having a Dark Starr dry Irish stout and played the latest Dick’s Picks release.

Nevertheless, I didn’t give up. Several days I had to rush to put on a song as midnight approached and on more than one occasion I had to have that philosophical debate with myself about whether “every day” meant ‘once in every 24-hour period’ or ‘once in every period between waking and going to bed.’ Luckily part of my college degree is in philosophy, so I was equipped to undertake that quandary.

I was not able to keep track of exactly how many days I failed to meet either standard, but I’m guessing it was around 20 days or so. To keep it all in round numbers, generally I surmise that I missed no more than a month worth of days total. I was disappointed I wasn’t perfect, but glad I kept at it. I did not experience the soul crushing sense of failure and low self-esteem that comes with so many such annual rituals of self-improvement.

For instance, in the years I was going to Weight Watchers we always hated the new year. Through most of January and into February there would be about twice the number of people at the meetings and usually there would be people who had to stand in the back of the room. There more basic questions asked and more explaining that had to be done. Come about March, life was back to normal and everyone had a chair in which to sit.

Those who didn’t hang probably went home and felt bad about themselves, certain they are not able to lose weight. The sad part about that is that Weight Watchers works. Even then, before the company diversified its programs, you really could lose weight following the rules, which were not that bad. Shoot, they had even removed the requirement to eat liver once a week and fish five times in that same period. No more “thank God for tuna” speeches when someone met their goal.

I suppose that brings us to the first Reality Solution I have to offer – don’t set yourself up for failure. Self improvement is good, we always should be looking for ways to be better-happier, but don’t tear yourself down while trying to build yourself up. Give yourself the chance to win and chill about it. Small successes are more valuable than medium-sized failures. (For instance, if you don’t get your first blog written until about six months after you had intended.)

So I guess therein lies your nugget of wisdom – that and to remember that if you go to any new group meetings just after the beginning of the year, take your own chair.

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