Wait, delay, and put it off.
For some people, procrastination is practically an identity, as in, “I’ve always been a procrastinator and that’s just who I am.” This is fine, until it’s not.
Putting off can ultimately result in poor decisions, when we’re rushed into a less-than-ideal situation because we’ve delayed till there’s no time left to think. Procrastination can cause misery.
There are sometimes good reasons for choosing to delay an action. However, choosing to delay is not quite the same as procrastination. The difference here, as it often is, is in the “choosing” part.
If you are struggling with the question, “Do I really need to do this now?” then you could try asking yourself, “What result do I want? What am I aiming for?”
If the result of your action will bring you closer to another person—maybe it’s an expression of gratitude, re-establishing a contact, making amends, looking for understanding, extending a forgiveness, then my suggestion is—don’t wait. There’s no time like the present.
On the other hand, if the goal is to “have it out,” if it will likely lead to more conflict, open up old wounds, etc., then you may be well-served to take time to mull over whether you need to do this right now.
There are times when we need to address issues that will result in unpleasantness. It has to be done. Even then, it is worth putting in sober second thought before you start. Know what you are trying to achieve, make sure you have the right words, choose a way that offers a chance of achieving it. Choosing to delay until you have worked those things out may be appropriate.
Addressing an unpleasant issue can call for determination, even courage! You may know that you need to take an action but find that your determination is a little wobbly. If so, try this: Break the action down into very small steps. Tiny steps, even. Then commit to doing one tiny thing toward making progress every day (or whatever time period you choose). If you follow through on this, remarkably, the deed will get done. It may not even be as painful as you anticipated.
It’s the habit that makes it work. We can accomplish surprising things when we stick to habits that lead us in the direction we want to go. Persistently taking one step at a time can create more effective progress than a big dramatic gesture.
Another advantage to this tiny-step approach is that we can refine our process as we go. For example, maybe you need to have a difficult conversation. Start by doing some research on how to deal with difficult people. Write down some key phrases. Create a script for yourself. Examine what ifs and alternatives. Find a trusted person to ask for advice.
Although my focus here is on personal relationships, the tiny-step approach can be useful for all kinds of situations. For example, maybe you are having trouble coming to terms with the need to move, perhaps you need to deal with a problem with your work, education, or you need to get finances in order. If it needs to be done but you are reluctant to start, choose the moment to take your first tiny step.
Take your chosen step; get a better sense of control. And, you’ll have started! Are you ready to start?
Welcome to Reality Check:
articles and observations inspired by the work of Dr. William Glasser
- Choosing Behaviour
- Choosing Perspective
- Control and Choice
- Develop Understanding
- Doing, Thinking, Feeling, Physiology
- How it is sometimes
- Love & Belonging
- Perception & Reality
- Personal Freedom