Action Cures Procrastination

Move and the way will open.
—  Zen proverb


We talk to so many people who avoid their spiritual practices when they are feeling lousy.  Then they regret not doing them, and feel guilty and then feel worse and feeling worse is more immobilizing and…they’re stuck in the struggle.  Call it spiritual procrastination.

Procrastination is draining – and it doesn’t help your fatigue.  It actually makes you feel more frustrated, more bored, more lethargic to avoid actions that you believe will be uncomfortable.  The belief is what’s limiting you.  You’re uncomfortable where you are but you’ve concluded that if you take action, it will increase your discomfort.  Then you feel trapped.  You feel that there is no way out.

Skip the struggle.  Quit trying to figure it out.  Don’t psychoanalyze.  Just move.  Do…something.

When we first moved to Florida, it was months before Charles found a job.  He was finishing his Master’s degree in counseling, but couldn’t find work in the field.  So he finally decided to take a job raking recycled roofing chips.  True story!  And – not surprisingly – he got a job offer in behavioral health a week later.

Action is medicine.

Once you recognize that you’re procrastinating, take the actions that are within range.  Do what’s realistic.

Don’t expect your dream job.  Don’t expect to scale Mount Everest and perform open heart surgery in the same day – If you expect so much of yourself that you’re bound to fail, you’ll end up in the cycle of hopelessness and self-criticism and more avoidance.  Don’t expect Nirvana – just expect to feel a little better (and that’s enlightening enough).

Procrastination is a lousy cure for fear of failure.  Your avoidance just confirms the belief that you can’t accomplish what you’ve hoped and dreamed of.  You never get to discover what will happen if you try – if you take action.  You never get to discover that you are capable of more than you ever imagined – more courage, more determination, more creativity, more brilliant uniqueness, more joy.  More sweat.

Do what’s possible, even if it’s not your ideal.  Even if it doesn’t look to anyone else like you’ve accomplished anything.  Take action, even if it’s just tiny small steps.  Action starts the process of movement – not just physically, but also energetically and emotionally.  Your energy starts to flow, and that’s invigorating.  Energy flowing leads to more energy.  Reducing resistance makes you open to receive.

Mind-body-spirit-relationships.  It’s all mashed together. Get your energy flowing in any part of your being, and you get the energy flowing to all of it.

Photo by Wayne National Forest’s photostream, on Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0

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