Giving Up Procrastination For Lent

Drowning man

I was going to do something for Lent, but never got around to deciding what.

I don’t want to “give up” anything; I want to add something.

I want a new challenge, a new activity, a new project.

I did the digital declutter in January and started a book club in February, now I really need something for March.

I could (re)commit to Edna’s O (my new reference book about endorphins, dopamine, norepinephrine, anandamide, serotonin and oxytocin) and say: FIRST DRAFT: By Easter I’ll have a first draft.

I could do that, but it doesn’t meet one of my Project-Driven Life criteria for a new project. It doesn’t check the “excitement” box.  And it really needs to. Or else I’m not going to be happy.

At the same time, I also realize that happiness isn’t a requirement for a worthwhile and enriching project.

I realize too that happiness requires struggle. (I wholly subscribe to that Stoic tenant. I do.)

But, I also need stim every day, even painful stim, if necessary. I want to feel as amped doing my work, as I will for having done it.

And truthfully?  This research really does excite me —once I’m in hip deep. So why all this sissy toe-dangling at the beginning? All this reluctance to get wet?

Once I’m in I know I’ll be fine, happy as a clam in fact. But it’s the anticipation of that head-hitting-the-water dive into the deep end every day that stops me, that fuels my procrastination. That’s the real struggle, not the actual work.

So I resist. But not for the next 6 weeks. No!  For the next 6 weeks I’m going to slay the resistance monster, make it numero uno on my To-Do List every day.

Might also be a good time to re-read The War of Art, and find an accountability partner.

Any takers?

Day 23: Hitting the Wall

There’s been a marked drop-off in class attendance the past few days.  I think people are starting to hit the yoga wall.  It’s hard keeping up a daily practice.  I know.  I really do.  There have been days this month that, if I weren’t the teacher, I would have slept in, or kept the afternoon work momentum going without breaking to go to class.

In my interview with Jes yesterday, I knew what she was talking about when she said,

“I know of the benefits and rewards that yoga brings me, yet I will sacrifice my practice for other commitments.  Unfortunately, that is still something I am trying to change today.”

Isn’t it ironic that the thing that will save you is the first thing you throw overboard when you’re drowning?

Here’s my theory for why we do that.

In a way, we’re afraid to feel good.  If we find our way out of the quagmire of stress and unhappiness, who will we be? How will we have to act?  Who will we be able to relate to?  Who will understand this new us?

Everyone “gets it” about stress and frustration and anger and irritation. When we are these things, we fit in perfectly.  But if we start to change, to mellow out, to take things as they come, to sweeten our relationships, to drop our defenses once in awhile, we risk becoming something else, somebody else, someone our friends and spouses and kids don’t know anymore–even if this new us is a much better version.

So instead of going to yoga, or meditating, or going for a run, or doing something that will feed our souls,  we stay and do a bit more work, or go out to the bar and have a drink, or believe that we’d be happier if we got one more load of  wash done.

I think the answer is to keep remembering that we always, always, always have a choice.

We choose to troll on Facebook for hours, or obsessively check email, or play video games or otherwise numb-out.  But what if, every so often, in the midst of our self-sabotaging behaviors we just stopped and admitted what we are doing:

I am choosing to play on Facebook right now.

I am avoiding my practice because I am afraid of changing.

If we called ourselves on our shit more often, we would go a long way towards finally getting to know who we are, and how we really roll.