Procrastinators Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from chronic procrastination.

Fantasy Journalling

This is one of the things on my Someday/Maybe list to post here, and as we were talking about it today I thought I'd post it now.

I've found it really helped me to discover the links between where I was at the time of writing and where I wanted to be. After writing it I could easily see the opportunities which would lead me to my 'fantasy', and things started to move pretty fast!

Excellent article on journal writing and motivation - suggests something like 'reverse journalling' - youwrite the journal as if you were writing down at the end of the day what a fantastic day you've had, then you go and do it!

How would I spend my day?
How would I feel about my life?
What kind of work would I be doing?
What would I do for fun?
Where would I live?
Who would my friends be?
What kinds of relationship would I have with the people closest to me?

It's working!

Not just the journalling, but ~reflecting~ on the journalling - just talking about it here and hearing others talking about theirs is keeping my journal 'dream' alive and helping it become reality.

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adding to dream list

I would like to go to Detroit and visit the MoTown Museum. I love MoTown music more than any other music in the world. :)

I know that every generation says this as they age, but back then, they played MUSIC. Like with melodies. And the musicians actually had musical talent.

What is rap? They aren't even singing. The "music" they play in stores these days sounds more like noise than music - no melody, just crashing things together. Gives me a headache.

i agree

I can't believe the industry promotes degrading rap lyrics as music!

and by the way...

...I wish I could sing more than anything in the world. I took singing lessons briefly, but the teacher was abusive. Maybe I'll try it again now that I'm back in New York.

Singing and drums... My two dreams. For some reason, computer people often are drawn to music - don't know why. Must be the same part of the brain.

great idea

Normy - as usual this is a great idea. I know it works too. I used to go to a visions group and we'd write about things like this for the week :)

Thanks - I'm going to do it.


I read the article... and I think it pretty well describes my journal. Lot's of repetitive griping. I have made an occasional attempt at analyzing and trying to figure out how to get past the gripes and do something more positive.

As far as the dreams... I have lots. Some of them seem to be complimentary with my current life as a programmer and some seem to be just totally incompatible. I've always had this problem. Whenever possible, I try to have hobbies that serve in place of the incompatible dreams. It's not perfect but it works. For instance...

Complimentary dreams (not all at once):
- Finish remodeling my house (and probably sell it)
- Get my grad. degree in Computer Science
- Participate in more endurance sports (running, x-c skiing, hiking, snowshoeing, etc)
- Teach at a college or university
- Retire eventually (but keep doing lots of cool stuff)

Incompatible dreams:
- Learn to do auto body work and open a shop to do auto restoration.
- Open a business restoring/remodeling houses.
- Work as a park ranger or another outdoors profession
- Go on a long distance (6 month) hike (maybe when I retire or between jobs at some point)

Then there are the non-specific goals like:
- Build/maintain positive relationships with my family & community
- Minimize my impact on the world
- Maintain a balance between my physical, mental and spiritual needs and growth.

Fantasy Pursuit

I definitely have a particular dream - to compose musical theatre, and I can say that I'm inching toward it (not completely unencumbered by procrastination, tho). Have written a couple of shows and am now about to go do a course to professionalise my style.

The only way I've found of realising this, however, is to work alongside a collaborator and to write for a specific production date. I could never do it alone, or just for my own top drawer. Collaboration means there's someone sitting there in front of you for a limited time who wants to talk about the project and make some progress. That makes it harder to avoid the project than to do it. :) (unless your collaborator is also avoidant, in which case the best thing is for each of you to find another collaborator!).

In some ways my problem is that I focus too much on the dream pursuit, to the neglect of the work that actually brings in the mortgage-paying funds, and to the neglect of getting general life things done. Also it's easier to focus on the surrounding aspects of being creative (such as planning rehearsal dates, organising props and technical stuff and managing in general) than it is to get on with doing the creative work. As a result, I sometimes find that my songs are rushed and don't reach my quality threshold, whereas my production schedule is polished to the nth degree!


What cool plans! And this could have been written by me: "In some ways my problem is that I focus too much on the dream pursuit, to the neglect of the work that actually brings in the mortgage-paying funds, and to the neglect of getting general life things done. Also it's easier to focus on the surrounding aspects of being creative (such as planning rehearsal dates, organising props and technical stuff and managing in general) than it is to get on with doing the creative work." This is what I fear when I give myself permission to focus more on my creativity. It seems I do an all-or-nothing kind of thing. I get too involved in my work or too involved in my dreams. When I'm overly focused on my dreams, my work suffers (which annoys people but seldom causes people to suffer), whereas when I get overly involved in my work, I suffer! And then I can't be of any more help to people tha I am when I am overly involved in my dreams! Hmm--weighing the pros and cons here, and --surprise--it looks like it's better when I get overly involved in my dreams! Hmm. Best yet to not binge on either! But I am SO BAD at pacing myslef!!!!

My dreams

I just want to maximise my potential - to be all I can possibly be. To achieve in work and in family. To have a career to be proud of, and a happy, functional family.

I have always been told at school or at work, all my life in fact, that I can be anything or achieve anything I want so long as I just apply myself. I just can't..or don't...apply myself. So I haven't really dared to dream, either.

Maximising potential

I guess that's what my dream is too - so I started with thinking about what I had a potential ~for~! What do you have a potential for? What brings you joy?

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Not much at the moment, really. Writing, speaking and helping people bring greatest joy for me (but only writing if I don't have to do it. As soon as it becomes a HAVE TO it also becomes a DONWANNA). I am now pursuing my dream of organising, which I do like. I need more experience but I have taken the leap of faith and have stuck to it.

In the last couple of years I have toyed with teaching or training, too. Organising is a lot like that.

I suppose I am pursuing my dreams with my organising, and shouldn't forget that. I just need to keep my eye on the ball. There are a lot of stresses in my life right now and I need something to help me keep my eye on my goals.

I hear that!

>(but only writing if I don't have to do it. As soon as it becomes a HAVE TO it also becomes a DONWANNA).

I have a niggling fear that if I ever wrote for a living, with publishing deadlines and all, the demand resistance would take over. So the on-the-side thing seems best--then I can use writing for a reward and release.

I'm just not enjoying the ministry very much. It's congregational life (people are very stupid and cruel to each other, which is NOT what church is supposed to be about) and conventional attitudes that actually stifle higher consciousness in the name of religion that drive me nuts. There are other paths I could take, without a great deal of difficulty--I could get certified as a chaplain and serve in a hospital (which I think about often--it has a lot of intensity without much long-term involvement, would not be a 24/7 on-call situation, is in a medical setting which is very familiar for me, would offer good pay and benefits). I'd have a little bit of rigamarole to get certified (and accessing some records I do not have would be a problem). My DS will be driving soon, so I will not have as much chauffering to do. But I wouldn't be able to be so flexible in my daily schedule if I were a hospital chaplain. Right now I can work my schedule around my kids' schedules. When they were smaller it wasn't such a good idea to be on call at night (I AM on-call now, but I hardly ever get called. In a hospital setting I'd likely get called out once or twice a night on the on-call nights--and possibly for ALL night). Things are easing up in that regard. However, I can't go tearing off with any alternate plans because I have been waiting (perpetually it seems) for DH's career to take off. He has PhD in hand, but no job offers. He has worked really hard on this for several years now, and our agreement was that once he got a nice job (tenure-track), I'd quit, we'd move to the university he's hired at, and I could make whatever changes I want to make. I've been trying to keep myself pulled together while I wait this out, but it's taking longer and longer. The tension of waiting and not knowing what to expect was getting to me. So finally DH and I agreed we'd stay put for 2 more years, till DS graduates from high school. I don't want to yank him to another school his senior year--he'd have no interest in or loyalty to the school he graduated from if we did that. We have agreed that if something comes up for DH next year (He's covered with temporary contracts for this year), then DH will go and we'll stay here and do the whole commuter marriage thing. But DS has some great friends he could live with for a year, so that's another option--and one I might jump at.

I did do some writing last night, by the way--75 minutes on a weird little short story I hadn't thought about for months. Thanks to all of you for your relfections on dreams and fantasies--it put me back in mind of it!

always a vessel

The question is, of what? What do I allow to fill me? What do I affirm? I want it to be spiritual delight: I want to help others find a holy delight (contentment or hope can be approximations) even in the midst of darkeness and despair, and I want to be able to find it or at least the memory of it in myself, plus I want to be a delight to God, to Spirit. Certainly life is full of suffering; I acknowledge the suffering (sometimes all too well, because I'm too empathetic at times--and I've known my own share of suffering) and accept humbly that it serves its own purposes to which I am not privy--though sometimes through enlightenment I can become at least somewhat aware of what those good purposes are.

Primarily I see myself as having been called to free people from the morass of shame and moralisms that religion has spawned. I am not a conventional clergyperson. I was called into the church to pull the curtain on the Wizard of Oz (no wonder I kept thinking of OZ phrases the other day--I thought it was just because of Milo!), that is, to lift up a liberating spirituality over a festering and dying authoritarianism, religiosity, pietism, and moralism. Those are the things the church has become a vessel for, and I oppose it with all my being.

No, not true. Not with every fiber--and that's what contributes to my depression and probably to the procrastination: I often collude with the system. I accept being co-opted. Sometimes all I want to do is get along, keep a low profile, not rock the boat. THAT is what I feel guilty for! When I get tired of fighting the evil within the church itself, I want to run away like Elijah. I have received clear messages in spiritual guidance and in my own meditations that I am free now to leave the ministry. Whatever the universe was doing with me by putting me through this experience and sticking me into the mix of things, I am free to leave. But I do not--because it's not convenient, it's not approved of by DH, DS, and DD, or by DH's parents (whereas my own think I'm nuts for staying). Also (and I am very angry with myself about this) because I am afraid of the risk, afraid of being broke, AND afraid of failing at what I have dreamed of doing since I was in elementary school, which is being a writer and artist. Here is the very most significant truth of all: I cannot stand to fail at what I most want to I put it off. Meanwhile, I can't seem to dream about anything more...practical, available. Nothing else really matters to me. Not enough to work for. If it falls in my lap, great. This passivity has caused me to drift far from where I'd like to be--because I wish my dream itself would just fall in my lap. Then I wouldn't risk failure--nor my secret, lurking fear: that once I get what I want, I won't really like it after all. (See, somehow it's better if I receive it passively and don't like it than if I work hard for it and don't like it--at least then I wouldn't feel like such a fool.) I suppose being a fool scares me even more than being a failure, though I can't say why it should.

This column has challenged me to stare these fears straight in the eyeball. My own words, right now, stir my soul and pull up an energy I haven't felt in ages. For too long I've been mollifying myself because I can't have what I want (and don't want what I have). I WILL take the opportunity to dream!

I am certain that the new path will be erratic and that my current moment of enthusiasm (perhaps literal, from en-theos, indwelling of God) will not last, but I am glad for this moment. (How like the zen parable about falling over the cliff pursued by tigers, barely hanging on but finding one voluptuously ripe berry: "Ah, how sweet the berry tasted!" Maybe the journey I face won't be quite so disastrous. But I plan to appreciate the sweet--the delight of life and the universe--to whatever extent I am able!

Wow Slider!

See, you ~can~ dream! :)

We seem to have similar views on spirituality. And now I've also got a better idea of what you mean by 'delight'.

As for being fearful of changing to being a writer, do you remember the thread where pro and I were discussing a change of career direction? I used to work full-time for local government and I hated it (DSO mentioned it the other day - he said 'you were so sad when you were in that job - how different you are now). I was too scared to go freelance. So I compromised - I went part-time payroll, and part-time freelance. As I realised the benefits of freelancing I let go of the 'secure' job. Later, when I was offered a payroll job again, I was very wary of taking it, LOL! It took me months to decide, and I went with it in the end so I'm a bit of both again now, but the difference is that the payroll I do now is a job I love (I didn't know such a job existed before).

So how about it? How about you make some time for yourself and your writing and art. How could you build it into your life? What sort of things do you want to write about/express?

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Slider wrote:
For too long I've been mollifying myself because I can't have what I want (and don't want what I have).

What is it that you want that you feel you can't have?

ah? indeed....

I guess the freedom to take up just writing, without fear of the effect on my family. I don't mind going broke or being a starving artist on my own, but with husband and kids to consider, that would be extremely selfish. I make the largest income, our house is part of my package, so is our health insurance, etc. I'm chafing. I have fantasies sometimes about abandoning them all, taking on a new identity, becoming somebody totally different. But I have this fantasy because I don't have the courage to define myself in contradiction to what is expected of me, to obtain at least pieces of what I desire through negotiation. I seem to have this basic attitude that I should be the one to tolerate all dissatisfaction (until I get fed up, that is }:) ). I always hear myself telling myself that if I have more of something (time, energy, money, ability) than another person, then I should give up what I have until we're even. I say that if it hurts me less to give than it hurts another to go without, then I must give. (I "should" myself a lot.) Being a perfectionist about ethics (especially since I can argue several different directions and can't make up my mind which position is right) is a real chore! And stupid. I obsess over it.

the yoke of responsibility

Oh, slider... It sounds like you feel so trapped!

Do you enjoy being a minister at all, or is it yesterday's dream and you want to move on?

What do you want to write about - what kind of writing? Articles? Books? Fiction? Non-fiction?

Does it have to be either/or?

When I'm in the swing I spend an hour each morning before work on my course, you could do the same sort of thing with your writing - doesn't have to be morning, but you do need to carve out a niche for it. Took me ages to get into the position where I could do that - there was a chain reaction of events that needed to happen first - but when I started imagining it I was able to discover where the chain reaction could start from where I was at the time, and then just take it one step at a time.

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You've both talked about your dreams here

pro You've already mentioned that you'd like a garden, to live in the city (so what does that make - a roof garden? Do they exist there?), to sell products not services (who to? where from?), to visit Australia, and New Zealand (what would you do there? Where else do you want to go?)

SliderYou dream big! What was the phrase? A vessel of God's delight? What does that look like? Imagine it - what are you doing, who are you with, what does your day look like,how did it happen?

I thought I only had one dream until I actually started the journal. My journals in the past (infrequent and spontaneous) had tended to focus on the past, this is the first time I think I've journalled about the future. And it doesn't matter whether or not you think you can do it IRL - it's a fantasy!

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dream list

I love the rainbow graphic! :)

pro You've already mentioned that you'd like a garden, to live in the city (so what does that make - a roof garden? Do they exist there?),

I'm already in New York City - you can't get much more urban than that. Since I'm already here, it can't count as a dream (or not a current dream).

Re the garden... Been there, done that. It was a dream for years, and I fulfilled it when I bought my house. I thought about volunteering to help maintain the Jane Street Garden (beautiful little garden about a block from my apartment), but then I never called because it was so HOT out this summer that I didn't want to be outside. I have a few house plants - orchids and African Violets - but that's as far as I'll go with urban gardening. No rooftop gardens for me! I'm blessed with a very cheap, rent stabilized apartment in the best part of the West Village. I'm not moving! Apartments with rooftop gardens cost thousands per month - like $10,000.

to sell products not services (who to? where from?),

I have two very specific ideas for this that I've already largely implemented. I just need to finish that last 10%. I can't give details or I'll blow my anonymity.

to visit Australia, and New Zealand (what would you do there? Where else do you want to go?)

Australia and New Zealand were spur-of-the-moment ideas while talking to Milo. The place I've always wanted to go is China. I wanted to major in Chinese in college, but my father wouldn't let me go to college in Calfornia (too far), and USC at San Francisco was the only one with a program in Chinese.

I want to learn to play drums.

Not sure what else I want. :?

What are your dreams? Maybe hearing someone else's dreams will help me figure out mine (kind of like ordering what someone else is ordering in a restaurant :P). Where would you like to be 5 years from now? 10 years? I've never been able to come up with anything but a total blank in answer to these questions. I'd be fascinated to hear what someone else says.

You can dream things you've already got!

My fantasy has the same basic job (differs in the details), same DSO, same DDog in it (different carpet, LOL!). It's part of the package I imagine when I'm thinking of my fantasy - if I think of it as a mental check list it means I'm part way there already!

As for what ~my~ dreams are, mine would be different from yours anyway, and like you I wouldn't want to post some details. Here's some of the bare bones - I'm with DSO and DDog. I have a doctorate by the age of 50. I have a yoga studio and a thriving yoga therapy practice; I still teach some general classes; I'm involved in training yoga teachers and therapists; I'm more involved in working with cancer and heart conditions (details are in journal); my house is a place of beauty and nurtures me(it isn't at the moment); I have a veg garden rather than a wasteland; I have time to relax and have a good network of friends (hence Dale Carnegie!); I take a trip to visit Indian Ashrams with two of my teachers; I visit every county in England and find out more about English history and geography; I visit California and study with Richard Millar; I meet up with some of my online friends. There's more, but it gives you an idea. My dreams aren't huge and unattainable - I have no desire to be a ballerina for example, LOL! The wheels are in motion.

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using journaling for change

Thanks for this link (I made it hot).

One of the weirdest problems I have is that I don't have dreams. It's not that my life is so perfect - I just can't think of what would make me happier.

There were some quotes at the back of Emmett's procrastination book that I liked - two in particular:

"The three great requirements for a happy life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for." --Joseph Addison

"Goals are dreams with a deadline." --Dottie Walters

I seem to lack dreams. Or rather, I'm so pessimistic about ever achieving them that I shut them out of my mind the moment they pop up - so quickly that I'm not even consciously aware of them. I've been trying to notice when I have "dream thoughts" and write them down in a list so I don't lose them.

I guess what I'm saying is, I'm starting a step back from where this article starts. This article talks about a way to use journaling to help you achieve your dreams, but you have to know what your dreams are to begin with!

same here

I have been unable to say what I want or what my dreams are, too, for some time now. I had hunkered so far down into "batten the hatches" survivor mode, that I had forgotten what I wanted to do when it was safe to surface again. It's almost as if I have set a substitute goal to see how long I can survive submerged! Or as if being in survival mode had become a sort of years-long time binge! I don't want to switch gears (ADD or addiction? Can't tell. Probably doesn't matter which, just need to stop!) Maybe my present worsening of symptoms is a precursor to a break-through, and maybe the same is true for you. something may be working its way to your attention.


I think my lack of dreams comes from a deep inner despair about any dream ever coming true - in large part because of my lack of self-discipline.

> Maybe my present worsening of symptoms is a precursor to a break-through, and maybe the same is true for you. something may be working its way to your attention.

My procrastination before I started this Web site was no worse than usual. It's always been a very serious problem. I just decided recently that I was sick to death of it and wanted to fix it, once and for all. And it's working! With the help of this site, I'm doing things I was never able to do before. I feel very hopeful. This is the first time in my life that I've ever believed that perhaps I can overcome this problem.