Procrastination is the bane of most of our existences. It’s not just about putting of the book we’ve been meaning to write or letting dishes pile up in the sink.
Procrastination has material costs on our finances (I haven’t had time to set up that savings account), our health (I’ll go to the doctor about that Mike next week), and even our happiness (I’m waiting for the right moment to ask out the love of my life).
Art of Manliness brings us a deep dive on procrastination. How to combat it, what it costs is, and, of course, what makes it so tempting in the first place:
Why do we humans almost universally experience a mighty struggle with procrastination? It’s because we’re seemingly hardwired to favor short-term pleasure over short-term annoyance/effort, even if the latter leads to greater long-term gains. We like to do whatever feels good in the moment.
Well worth a read. Don’t delay!
Stephen Guise on the trials and tribulations of sock donning:
This is a true story. Today, I attempted to put on socks. As I sat on the bed, I brought the opening of the first sock to the toes on my right foot, and dropped the sock. I sat on the edge of the bed and cried for two hours.
Okay, it was true until the crying part. I didn’t cry, or would never admit it. YOU CAN’T PROVE ANYTHING.
Why is it that it’s so easy to pick up a dropped sock and not as easy to apply for another job, to go on another date, to live another day with health problems, and so on?
This question seems facetious at first. Of course we persist ini putting our socks on. It’s a small, trivial task that we do every day. Putting on our socks isn’t in the same league as going on a date or facing a job interview.
But it’s easy to forget that putting our socks wasn’t always an easy task. When you were one-year-old, you might well have reacted in the same way that Stephen (allegedly) reacted in his story. The reason putting on your socks is an afterthought today, even you occasionally fail on your first attempt is that you persisted until it became ease to do.
This persistence, like so much of the effort we’ve put into our lives, is lost in the dim and distant past of our childhood. So it feels like it doesn’t count. It feels dumb to compare the efforts we’re asked to make now with those we made then. But the process is exactly the same. Try, fail, try again, improve. That’s the game until we die.
It’s tempting to look at those around us and wonder at how they make success look so easy. To try to replicate their success, fail to achieve it straight away, and conclude that there’s something wrong with us.
But that would make no more sense than a one-year-old feeling like a failure as they watched us effortlessly put on our socks. All we’re missing is persistence.
Before we get started, can we just appreciate the honesty of this video’s intro?
Let’s be honest, you’re probably procrastinating while watching this video. And because of this, I’m going to keep this as practical and concise as possible.
Procrastination is the greatest scourge on our civilisation. Without it we’d already have solved world hunger, cured all disease, and built the flying cars that we’ve been promised for so long.
Common reasons we procrastinate are that our goals aren’t meaningful enough to us, we don’t have a clear enough plan for how to achieve them, or both.
If the goal isn’t important, we’re obviously not motivated to start, especially when there are more entertaining options available. If we don’t know how to achieve our goal, we’re overwhelmed by the size of our task and find something easier to do instead.
But the most important reason, the reason the video zeros in on, is what the goal is, and why it’s been chosen. The ideal goal is one that benefits you and simultaneously benefits those around you.
You are motivated to achieve your goals because you will gain personally, and your social environment supports you because they will benefit too.
There are many goals which fit these parameters, and best of all, the other two obstacles to procrastination are also alleviated because the people around you will help you fill in the gaps.
Sometimes you procrastinate because you’re feeling lazy, or because there’s something more exciting on offer. But if you find yourself procrastinating too often, try asking yourself who is benefiting from your goal.
Speaking of programming, the comfort zone is perhaps the clearest expression of the programs with which we live every day. It’s the internal list of thought, feelings and actions that we’ve decided are safe in a physical and social list.
There’s no problem with the existence of such a list of course. It’s only logical that we’d keep track of the things which had proven to be safe and those which seemed to be dangerous and referred to it when we needed it.
The problem is, there’s a lot of guesswork that goes on. Most of our comfort zone is made up of things which we’re afraid to try rather than things which will actually be bad for us. In fact, many of the things we’re afraid of will be actively good for us, if only we can get out of our own way.
Here, Henrik Edberg of Positivity Blog gives us 20 ways of doing just that. Most of them are small, easy boundary pushes that won’t cause any of us too much stress, but the simple act of doing them can still have a real impact on what we imagine the limits of our comfort zone to be. Go ahead, try something new today.
I have a strained relationship with the word “toxic” as it’s often used today. Toxic masculinity, toxic relationships, toxic people. Dismissing human beings as worthless, evil and malicious, rather than recognising that maybe they just aren’t for you and that you might not be so great yourself, is too easy then there’s a simple, catch word to use to do it.
But toxic positivity might be a term I warm to. This is basically positivity that doesn’t pass the empathy test. Positivity as a means of moving the conversation onto a new topic, rather than showing a genuine interest and, god forbid, a sincere willingness to help.
Phrases like: “other people have it much worse”, or “you just need to stay positive”, or worst of all in my opinion, “everything happens for a reason“.
These aren’t expressions of support, they’re catchphrases that express your desire to move on. To say something, anything, without going to the trouble of actually understanding the problem or simply empathising and letting the person know you’re there for them.
So here are eight of them that you might want to avoid using. They won’t help the person you’re talking to and will probably make them feel worse. If you don’t know what to say that’s fine. Just let the person you’re talking to know that you care.
I’ve written her many times about the illusory nature of the self. About how we think of our personalities as these fixed, permanent things, when in fact we’re just a string of choices and habits, threaded together by a story we tell ourselves. Many people feel a little disheartened to be described ini this way, but for me, it highlights how limitless our potential for change and growth is at every moment.
That’s the theme of Leo Babauta’s latest piece for Zen Habits on changing your identity.
One of the most powerful switches I ever made when changing my entire life was switching up my identity.
And while I never did it overnight, I successfully did it in multiple areas:
I changed from a smoker to a non-smoker — and once I did, I stopped thinking of smoking as something to do when I was stressed.
I went from meat-eater to vegetarian (and later to vegan). It literally took meat off the menu for me, so that I didn’t even consider eating it.
I thought of myself as a marathoner. Later, as just someone who exercises regularly to stay fit and healthy. It meant that there was no question I was going to exercise, even if I fell out of it for a bit because of disruptions.
Leo breaks down how he was able to make these changes and even some of the potential pitfalls of changing the way you look at yourself, but there’s no question that taking the opportunity to look at yourself in a new way can be life changing.
Life is made up of choices.In the moment they seem small, but if we repeat them enough, the effects of these tiny decisions can be massive.
This beautiful little video, without a single word and set to the strains of “In The Hall Of The Mountain King”, follows the life of an ordinary man as he chooses between working hard or slacking off, going to the gym or sitting on the sofa, eating potato chips and coke, or salad and water for breakfast…ok, both of those are weird choices.
The final message of the video is simple.
Small choices become actions.
Actions become habits.
And habits become our way of life.
I don’t know about you, but I’m going to put this one on every time I’m tempted to procrastinate by watching YouTube vide…dammit!