Thursday, October 30, 2014

Procrastination as Perfectionism

A wise person recently told me that procrastination is often just a symptom of perfectionism. As a lifelong procrastinator, who often bitterly attributed that characteristic to some kind of inherent laziness in myself, this was a whole new way of looking at myself.

I am a terrible procrastinator. It affects my work life, my ability to stay on top of housework, remembering kid activities and playdates, finding time to engage in my hobbies and interests, and most upsetting, my ability to intentionally live my true priorities. Its the real reason I don't blog as often as I'd like. Its why I often talk myself out of doing healthy things (exercising, avoiding junk food) and into unhealthy things (binge-watching Netflix, drinking too much wine).

I've always disliked this part of myself but have found it so hard to overcome. Probably because I was procrastinating! This part of my personality makes me feel sloppy, disorganized, immature, stressed out, and often like a failure.

So when I heard this piece of wisdom, I reflected on my own experience and yes, it does hold true. I spend a lot of time organizing myself by making lists and charts, schedules, routines and calendars and end up putting it all off because along comes a small bump in the road . I then tell myself that I'll start tomorrow. Tomorrow will be perfect. Of course, because life doesn't work that way, something pops up once again and I'm off the rails.

Nowhere has this been more evident for me than in my meditation practice. Most literature on meditation suggests doing it in the morning. I have visions of rising in peaceful silence at 5am and serenely meditating  while incense wafts in the air and my family sleeps.  In reality, I usually have at least one child  whose crawled into our bed over the course of the night sleeping on my head .  One or both of the kids probably woke me up, often multiple times, and usually just before my alarm is set to go off. Mornings are often cranky in our house and so there is no way on this green earth that I'm going to get 20 minutes to myself if either child is awake.  I could get up even earlier, but that's no guarantee because fairly frequently they decide to wake up at 4am for the day.

For the last six months, this has been a huge struggle for me. I really want to meditate early in the day, and ideally be able to enjoy a coffee in peace while doing some writing. But life is getting in the way and its just not happening. So rather than allowing myself the space to change the time of day that I meditate, I've just not been doing it at all or at the very least, doing it very infrequently. Not meditating, not connecting with that part of myself, really has a negative impact on my life. I need to prioritize it and make it happen, however imperfectly it may play out.

I've been reading an e-book by Leo Babauta which recommends making small changes each week throughout the year. The first change is adding a meditation practice, just a short one, whenever you can fit it in. This week, I've accepted that mornings are not working and I've been meditating in the evening after the kids are in bed, the house is quiet, and I can relax knowing no one is going to come into my room demanding a banana and Bubble Guppies. Its been lovely allowing myself this imperfect practice rather than demanding perfection or nothing at all.

1 comment:

  1. Look at you, all holding yourself accountable.Thats fantastic! I hope you don't harbour any guilt whatsoever because hey! Meditation IS a practice. You'll never get it perfect! Isn't that great news? You are officially let off the hook for perfecting it. Now it's just the practice, and you can SO rock that.