Practicing Procrastination

I start but I can’t finish! I want to practice my singing.  I want to make a new audition package for opera work.  I want to contact orchestra conductors too and develop my concert career.  I even have a conductor to contact and I have his card in my hand.  Day after day, I do nothing with it.   Procrastination.  I’d complain more about it but I’m procrastinating writing this blog too.  I felt better when I realized it wasn’t just me.  Somehow I feel better facing a world wide evil instead of my own personal junk.

Check out this article from the April 12th Life section of the Globe and Mail.  It seems to be about a man’s failed attempt to garden each year.  Read carefully between the lines (with your special between the lines glasses that come free in Life Coaching Cereal) and see that the problem has to do with combating that universal evil-procrastination. It is the typical tale of wanting to do something.  Starting it with good intentions.  Losing track of it, getting distracted, and making excuses and Voila.  It is dead.  In the case of the garden, literally and figuratively.

I know, you are too busy to click that link to read it, so trust me and read this excerpt from the article Mr. Miser writes:

“The few times I’ve ever tried to garden it has followed a clear pattern.  I pot whatever I hope to grow, I water that pot once or twice at the most, and then ignore it until whatever is in that pot shrivels and turns brown.”

The writer is very clear about why he wants to garden.   He speaks about the romantic notion of having a garden that you would labor in and, what is more, the financial payback he knows he would reap if he grew his own vegetables.

“A garden that is 20 feet by 30 feet requires an initial investment of $70…and produces more than $600 worth of vegetables over the course of a season”

Good argument and one I have thought of too.   Most every year plant some form of garden, and every year I have abandoned it which leaves me to yield only wilted and crusted plants by August.  The dreams of saving hundreds of dollars and the vision of cultivating living things turned to dust by the August sun.  I don’t just do this with gardens, but this story actually reminds me of a chair I once successfully bid on at a Canadian Opera Women’s Committee charity auction.  I concocted a whole vision about this chair and how it would be moved into our bedroom and I would create this reading area around it. This chair was the key to embracing this meaningful reading habit I longed for.  I could see it now, my husband gently slumbering, I with practical and elegant IKEA lamp perched over my shoulder illuminating the Proust I have been savoring nightly.  What I particularly loved about this chair was that it was big enough to sit cross legged in.  I could see myself so clearly enjoying this nightly bit of civilization I would wedge into the mire of my toddler raising years.  I was mightily motivated but reality crept in and then procrastination leapt in behind.  Remember, I have a singer’s brain and it doesn’t have a great sense of meters and centimeters.  At the time I successfully bid on the chair we lived in an old semi in Toronto and after making the space for it in the bedroom and shopping for bookcases, I discovered the chair didn’t FIT down the hallway to the bedroom.   The important thing in all this anyway was the reading, which the chair was merely an excuse for.  But bedroom or living room, even that chair wasn’t powerful enough to fight the procrastination voice saying “don’t you have dishes to do?” or “Did you return Mrs. Petrishan phone call yet?”  Sitting and reading is still a struggle for me.

The Secret promised that if I with my reading and this sad gardener link with his dreams of the horn of plenty envisioned clearly enough we could make it a reality.  Nope. My favorite example of this kind of wishful thinking was an audition video a Life Coach made for TLC to compete for a host’s job, who shrieked at the end of her video “I wrote it down in pen that you will hire me.  IN PEN!  And we all know what that means.  It HAS TO COME TRUE!”  If all I needed was a pen let me show you where I would be living today:

Forget the pen and forget wishful thinking.  Think about this:  How do we see this?  Is it a chore?  Is it fun?  What about it is fun?  What do I love about it?  Why is it more important than answering emails, calling back Mrs. Fensterschmerz, or reading today’s paper? Too often we label things, even things we purport to want to do or have in our life, as work.    In the gardening article I’ve been writing about Doug Green, Author of the Guide to Canadian Vegetable Gardening, says:

“The reality – and this is a tough reality when people learn it- is that it’s work”.

The Free Online Dictionary offers this definition of work:

To exert oneself physically or mentally in order to do, make, or accomplish something.

Work is such a loaded word.  Ask the kids to come and do some work and hear the groans rise up.  Ask them to play and you get a different response.  It just depends on how they see it and how I frame it.

When I look at things on my To Do list I can write them down as chores and work as the frame, or I could write what they mean to me.   Here they are in the language of procrastination:

Frame of Chore/Work

File receipts

Practice the Dvorak

Write this blog

Contact conductor

Frame of “I do this because….”

I want to treat my hard earned money with respect.   I hate pulling the all nighters at tax time.  It is easier to file a bit now for an easier time at tax time.

I Sing and play with musical interpretation which is fun and I enjoy the vibrations I make

Expressing all the noise in my head in a legible fashion lets me share this journey with others and when I do that I know I’m not really all alone, like it often feels.  It allows me to remind myself that I can help and I make a difference.

I want to sing in a way that continues to help support my family financially and I want to make music with this conductor.  I know it could be rewarding.

In life coaching lingo we call it Perspective.  Today, I called it a frame.  Take a snapshot of your “I wanna” and get rid of the procrastination frame you have on it now.  Choose a new one.  You can choose any one you want for anything in your life.  You have the power to make it feel different.  You aren’t lying to yourself, or putting on rose colored glasses or doing that ‘positive’ thinking thing.  You call things out for what they mean to you.  Watch and see how your new frame of “I do this because…” shuts up the procrastination voice.  Sometimes it will still feel like work and that voice will mutter at you, but at least you’ll know why you do it and you will do it.

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