I had a month to write this article. I thought about what to write. A fortnight ago I checked to see what others wrote. Three days ago I sat down to write. The brief said anything from one to ten paragraphs. Now how difficult can that be? My head is often swimming with thoughts, ideas and arguments. What a cinch!
Let me share with you what happened next. I spent 8 hours writing and deleting over and over. The themes change, the titles follow. Then the copy needs to be edited to sync with the new title. Oops! The paragraph looks too long, let me see what is superfluous. Hmm this sounds really self-centred, first impressions count. Okay delete all but the first paragraph and the last, and flesh out the middle. Groan! This is so hard. Why did I agree to write? What was I thinking? Oh no! 6 hours gone. Was I working in Csikszentmihalyi flow or was I wasting time fussing? Margaret Greenberg would tell me to get it out the door. But I am not done yet! Yawn … gosh it’s 2 am. Eastern time is 13 hours behind so I can go to bed and look at this from a fresh perspective tomorrow while I am waiting for the kid at rehearsals.
I woke up this morning and it’s my birthday. Phone calls and messages took up time. I will have two hours at the office. I must do the Pos-Psych piece. Wait – the stuff I wrote last night is so depressing. This is a webpage on positive psychology. It’s a Sunday morning and my special day! Let me think of a fresh topic with some zing. Great! Park the car, walk up and focus. Don’t do anything else or I’ll get distracted. Get the thumb drive out and plug it onto the laptop. Print a hard copy for review. Drat! I have not installed the new printer yet. Where is that installation CD? Ok, let’s install this thingamagic and we are in business. Why is the document not printing? Check the settings. Try again. No? Switch off and then on again? Yep it worked. Good, here it comes. Urghh two pages of depressing narratives.
I read through and made some edits. Oh no! Time to go to the civic hall for my kid’s concert. What? Two hours already? Gotta ago. Stuff the two pages into my bag for further editing in the afternoon while waiting for the kid. Sounds like a plan. The hall lights are too dim. Never mind, there’s time to edit the paper afterwards. Oh, I have not been to this mall for a year or more, might as well take a leisurely walk around.
And so … the hours whittled away until an hour ago. Now I sit here falling asleep trying to write 1 to 10 paragraphs. I made a commitment which I must honor. So I am sharing with you the struggles of a procrastinator-perfectionist – who pays the price every time.One self-report profile tells me I have a tendency to spend as long as possible gathering information, changing styles, exploring possibilities and generally waiting to see what happens before commiting to an outcome or decision. A friend once said of me that ‘if not for the last minute’ nothing would get done. That’s so true. Great ideas, well thought out plans, well stocked resources, lots of zest and yet ….
I wonder how many are like me – agonizing over every thing-to-do or get done. How do you manage? How did you change? Are you like me all the time or selectively? I feel like Jekyll and Hyde! My clients and work mates see me as super efficient, a stickler for punctuality and a tiiresome perfectionist. At home I am the opposite.
In our studies at MAPP, we learned about the stages of change, the paradox of choice, the importance of knowing what we have control over, resilience, perseverance, gratitude and hope. I certainly hope you will bear with me. I am grateful that you have read thus far. I will definitely be back next month, and plan to be more lucid. Start writing the next article early and not change the topic midstream. In fact I have already decided to write about ‘strengths and talents’ in 10-12 years-old. Watch this space!
Choong, S. & Britton, K. H. (2006). Character strengths and type: Exploration of covariation. International Coaching Psychology Review, 2 (1), 9-23.
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990). Flow: The psychology of optimal experience.. New York: Harper Perennial.
5 vor 12 courtesy of adesigna