A quick look at the date of the last blog entry in this space may provide some insight as to why the above topic was chosen for this missive. Procrastination also happened to be the topic introduced at a recent Other Bar meeting attended by about 25 recovering attorneys in Marin.
A lively discussion ensued. It seems that nearly everyone feels they can relate to the problem of procrastination, because it is something they personally suffer. Apparently, most of us are all too familiar with the pattern: put something off for no good reason; build up a pile of anxiety, preoccupation and guilt for not getting it done, then finally complete the task, only to realize (yet again) that it was not that difficult an endeavor in the first place, and the worst thing about it was the psychic price of distraction and self-recrimination paid during the period of delay. This insight results in a resolve to never procrastinate foolishly again, which crumbles as soon as the next obligation arises or deadline looms.
Is this a character defect especially shared by addicts and alcoholics? It would appear so, based on the agreement in the room that we all had this bad habit. If so, then it would seem the best solution would be the one that 12-Step programs prescribe for character defects in general: become entirely ready to relinquish the defect, and then pray for its removal. Why, then, should everyone in a room full of recovering attorneys, many with high double-digit sobriety and working good programs, all still suffer from this “defect?” Is it a shortcoming to which those in the legal profession are particularly susceptible? Or is there another, more hopeful explanation?
Surprisingly, the discussion took an interesting turn, eventually settling on a fairly positive perspective. A consensus was reached: procrastination is not a character defect especially common in alcoholics and/or lawyers, but rather, a trait so ubiquitous as to be best considered simply part of the human condition. Viewed in this manner, it becomes possible to see more productive ways of dealing with it. Since everybody seems to procrastinate, perhaps the sane solution is to accept it for what it is, and eliminate or at least minimize the guilt and negative self-talk. There is a big difference, after all, between “last minute” and “late.” Maybe, as long as we are not missing deadlines, we should practice some self-love and give ourselves a break.
As aggravating as procrastination can be, it seems that most of the suffering is self-imposed, the result of our attitude towards it. Then, as is so often the case, perhaps the solution lies in having the wisdom to accept what we cannot change, and thereby gain a measure of serenity.
So. How about logging in and adding a comment with your thoughts about procrastination? Do it now!
Or maybe sometime next week….