Tag Archives: procrastination

Paralysis Analysis

Indecision can be a crippling thing. The fear of making the WRONG choice often leads to making no choice at all. Procrastination ultimately makes the decision for me, and when the results do not play out the way that I intended for them to, I lay blame at the feet of “circumstance,” neatly sidestepping my own responsibility for the outcome.

I do this frequently, and I hate it. Rarely are the decisions about life-altering events.  More often they are about things for which there is no right or wrong answer. Instead, there is simply “Choice A” and “Choice B.” And yet, I work myself into a worried frenzy over which choice I should make-convinced that one choice is better than another.

Case in point: I am going to Atlanta for a conference next week. The decision I am facing is simple. Should I drive or fly?

I live in the Chicago area, so the drive will take 12-14 hours. For many people, this might be a no-brainer. The thought of driving that far is mind-numbing. Most people would have bought their plane ticket months ago.

Not so for me. You see, I love to drive. The thought of all that time alone in the car, driving through the mountains in the midst of the changing fall colors, listening to music and uplifting tapes and audiobooks…that’s very appealing to me.

So then, why the mental wrestling match? If the drive is not drudgery but rather a joyful experience, why is this even an issue for me?

It’s the car…

My 12-year old Buick Century has more than 200,000 miles on it. The car is a tank; it took out a huge deer a couple of years ago and barely flinched…But she is getting long in the tooth, and I’m starting to sense that her age is catching up to her. I think that she’ll be good for another year or two, but a drive through the mountains, 1500 miles round trip, feels like a bit much for her.

The decision I am wrestling with is financial. Airfare is more expensive than driving…unless the car breaks down. A catastrophic breakdown in the middle of Kentucky (or worse, the mountains of Tennessee), would be very expensive. And of course, even if there are no mechanical problems with the car, the wear and tear of the drive will definitely make an impact.

I find myself frozen with fear. The indecision is palpable. If I make the “wrong” choice, I will be doomed to destruction. I will have carelessly spent money in folly, never able to recover from the error of my tragic mistake. Paper or plastic becomes a moral dilemma. Should I drive the van or the car? Should I drink coffee or tea? Should I go to the Starbucks in Merrillville or Crown Point? Should I, should I, should I…

I’m a drama queen, I admit it. I take seemingly small decisions and I inflate them to critical choices that will surely alter the course of my life in some irreparable way. Life is about making choices, deciding and moving on. And procrastinating my way into making a choice is a decision in itself. It’s the decision to be reactive instead of being proactive. It’s the decision to let life happen to YOU, instead of YOU happening to life.

The truth is, I went to sleep last night racked with indecision about this simple choice-fly Southwest, or drive to the south and the west.

I woke up with the decision made. Sometimes it really is good to “sleep on it.” But even if I hadn’t made a decision in my sleep, I would have still needed to make a choice this morning.

Because I’m tired of being passive-of letting life happen to me.

I want to HAPPEN to LIFE


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Procrastination Killed the Chickens

We all know that “curiosity killed the cat,” and “an asteroid killed the dinosaurs.” I even know that “Video killed the radio star.” But I learned a valuable and expensive lesson this morning when I found that “Procrastination killed the Chickens.”

My wife Kate has raised chickens for several years. She took a brief hiatus from it when our son was getting married, but she decided this past winter that she wanted to get some chicks and raise them again. I LOVE the fresh chicken eggs, so I was all for it. She ordered them (they actually come in a small box in the mail-25 chicks in a box about 8 by 10 inches), and she told me that they would be here around the end of April. She also told me that there were a few repairs that needed to be done to the coop and asked me to take care of them when I could-preferably before the chicks arrived.

The chicks arrived on April 25th, and, while I had made some of the repairs to the coop, I had not gotten them all done, most notably, a gap in the nest box door that was caused by the warping of the wood I used to build the original coop five years ago…

You can see where this is going, can’t you?

This morning, I awoke to find my six-year old daughter in tears. She told me that “all the chickies DIED…” My heart sank…I asked my wife what happened (stupid question). She said that when she went out to feed them, they were all dead. Something “got in somewhere.” In my gut, I knew where that “somewhere” was, and it was pretty much confirmed when I went out to investigate the slaughter. There were dead chickens everywhere, but, in the nest box where I had failed to fix the offending gap, was a scene of carnivorous carnage that turned my stomach. I had my answer…

I was responsible for this.

After apologizing to my wife and comforting my distraught daughter, I returned to the coop and cleaned up the mess. I have spent the last several hours repairing the chicken coop…and all the while, all I could think was this:

“You procrastinated again! Why do you keep DOING this?!?!?”

Isn’t that the way it is when we procrastinate? When we don’t want to do something, we put it off until later…and then later…and then later again, until finally, either we drag ourselves through the effort to accomplish something that could have been done so much sooner, or, worse, we end up paying the consequences for our inaction.

I have probably paid hundreds, if not thousands, of extra dollars throughout my life because of my procrastination. The sad thing is that my inaction didn’t just cost ME (in terms of extra time, money, and effort), but it also cost my wife. Five weeks of hard work was wasted. It cost my daughter emotionally. It cost my son, who took care of the chickens every day while we were on vacation.

Are you a procrastinator? Are there things on your to-do list that you keep pushing back “until tomorrow?” If there is, I want you to take a moment and think about the possible consequences of delaying action on each one of them. Then, choose one of them, take the next step, and get that item done. You’ll be glad you did.

And, unlike me, you probably won’t have to clean up any bloody, headless chicken corpses.

Have a nice day! 🙂


Posted by on June 2, 2012 in Procrastination, Self-discipline


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