What leads one to procrastinate, and how do you combat it? Is laziness inherited or can it be learned or unlearned?
On the surface of things, it would seem I’m not a very lazy person. I’ve accomplished quite a bit with career and education and have generally disciplined habits like working out, but that is definitely misleading. If given the chance, I would much rather procrastinate than work on a task. Even right now I’m writing on this blog when I need to be working on school work.
During a training class for work last year I took several personality tests designed to teach you about your leadership style and personal tendencies. One of the things that stood out is that I have a preference to be very pressure prompted. That is to say that I generally don’t work on things until the pressure is on and deadlines are tight, basically a nice way to say that I tend to prefer procrastination, much more than the average person apparently. The flip side is that I tend to do well under pressure, my best actually. It makes sense in hindsight, my best grades in college were during the more stressful time periods when I had a lot going on. When I was allowed to just focus on classes, I became more of a slacker and just wasted all my free time.
So what does this mean, how can this knowledge be used? Well, I’ve started to make sure I have enough on my plate to keep me challenged. For instance, I’ve decided to do my school part time while working full time, and I’ve actually done better with that format. When I’m under the right amount of stress then I perform. Also I work hard to develop good habits like working out and trying to stay somewhat organized with my tasks, just so I know when I’m under pressure. So overall, I get a lot done just by the virtue that I need to get a lot done in order to stay afloat with everything I’ve signed myself up for.
It seems to work, although it would be nice if I could motivate myself to get things done early, but then again, if you wait to the last minute, it only takes a minute.
This is a self-improvement post. See all here: https://starandlotus.wordpress.com/2016/05/29/self-improvement/
It’s a bit unusual in that I’ve volunteered to go overseas to a war zone twice. Not entirely sure why I did, although it probably has something to do with a macho mindset. There was certainly never a desire to kill anyone, or get revenge on terrorists or anything like that, but rather just a sense to test myself, see if I can handle stressful situations, etc. There was maybe some sense of patriotism, and that volunteering was part of my job. It did change me quite a bit, but more on that later.
The first time I went I was a pretty junior officer, in my mid-20s, and got to go in a liaison position. That was nice, but it pretty much meant I was leaving my unit and deploying essentially by myself to support a unit in theater. The location was safe, but I did get to forward deploy a few times to Afghanistan, which I had volunteered for. That resulted in some exciting moments, got mortared a few times, felt a car bomb go off, got woken up in the middle of the night by an apache helicopter firing at insurgents. Also got to ride in some helicopters and visit a very forward base, interact briefly with the Afghan locals. I saw our troops looking forward to going home.
Also got to experience the never ending groundhog day of deployment. Worked every day, which made you lose track of time. But it was kind of nice in a way, you could just focus on work, and really sink yourself into it. Also food was good and what downtime I had I worked out, so I was in pretty good fitness by the end. Trick is just to get into a good routine.
I did leave a girl behind that I had been casually dating. I had wanted to stay in touch, although a few months in found out via facebook she started a relationship with someone else. It was a distinctive gut punch feeling, but I suppose that’s what happens.
It lasted 6 months then I went home. When I left I had felt good about my service and that I made a difference.
I’ve been musing on how dating all too often seems to devolve into something of a power struggle. People attempt to hold back, and indeed being less needy – being the pursued as opposed to the pursuer is a better position. Generally the one who is holding back is perceived as more attractive by their partner, and has the power in the relationship. The pursuer can be taken for granted.
The excellent relationship blog Hooking Up Smart (focuses on finding relationships in today’s hookup culture), talks a bit about this, advising women never to give 100% of themselves, even in marriage. That make senses, no one likes a pushover, although it does seem to shatter the notion of romance a bit. Is a Romeo and Juliet scenario sustainable, where both lovers are so committed they are willing to die for each other? #relationshipgoals
So, does it make sense to hold on to some secrets, maintain an air of mystery, and push back on your partner even if you don’t really want to? Maybe creating some drama is good, to spice things up occasionally? A fine balancing act to be sure. It’s not trying to get the upper hand in a relationship, but rather giving your partner what they want. A challenge.
A theme that runs through many self-help books is taking personal accountability for your situation. The general thought process is that even though something may not be fair, or might be someone else’s job, typically griping about it does no good. Instead accepting responsibility for the situation, identifying what you can do, and taking action is the most effective response.
This theme is in the classic 7 Habits of Highly Effective People to many business leadership books, and I can see why. While this may result in more work, it is typically very empowering and helps to encourage a sense of ownership in one’s work. It also ensures the buck doesn’t get passed around in an organization, so I can see why many businesses would want to encourage this attitude.
There can be some organizational resistance though. Accountability is usually associated with blame, so some people may shy away from it. There needs to be a strong leadership that doesn’t punish people for stepping up to accountability, otherwise everyone will look to pass the buck.
There are some considerations with this view. Obviously you can’t do everything, and if you try to take on too much you’ll be less effective in the tasks you really need to get done. It’s equally important that you don’t sign up for more than you can accomplish.
While this is typically applied to business, it could easily be applied to personal relationships. Don’t seek to blame in conflicts, but looking at your role and what you could have done differently may be the more productive route.