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.

Introducing myself

Hello, my name is Paul and I am a Chronic Procrastinator

I grew up in Ireland in a loving and happy home, both parents and 4 kids - I am the oldest. My farther was the most wise and compassionate man I have known (he died 2 years ago). He was an artist, photographer and film-maker but he curtailed his creative life to get a good job and pay the bills. He taught us to be self sufficient and secure and to do whats right - he took us fishing, camping, climbing and adventuring. he taught us first aid, swimming survival, we were qualified life guards and we volunteered in rescue services as kids. His goal was for us to grow up without undue fear and anxiety.

Alas, my mother was anxious and nervous and always felt she had risen above her station - she grew up in slums but we lived in a very well to do 'middle class' surburbia. She feared that if we misbehaved or forgot our manners the whole family would be shamed and cast out of polite society. From my mum I learned fear and anxiety and constant worry about appearances and behaviours. I learned who my 'betters' were and how to bow down to them. I learned about the unworthy classes and how to look down on them and their ways. I grew up knowing that I was being observed and judged by my betters and that at any moment I could fall from grace and become a nobody. I love my mum - she did an amazing job to the best of her ability. But her fear-based philosophy trumped my dad's fearless approach. So I grew up feeling unworthy and very anxious about everything.

Kids pick up on this kind of thing by instinct. I was bullied and teased and lived by stealth in school. I was a loner at home - living in my own wonderful fantasy world - and I hated having to play with other kids who just didnt have the imagination for the worlds I created in my back yard.

I was clever. But wished I wasnt. Then I wouldnt always be in trouble for not getting the best grades at school. I was smart enough to avoid schoolwork and not get into trouble. I left school lacking basic skills in most subjects - but I loved to read - and spent my youth educating myself in my favoured topics. But officially, I was seen as a bright kid who just didnt bother - lazy and unenthusiastic. Not quite a 'failure'.

I was artistic - and good at sculpting, painting, sketching and making things out of bits of rubbish. Also I was skilled at persuading friends to get into mischief - and getting girls to pose nude for me. I looked forward to a great time in art college! But my mother worried I would not make a living as an artist (my farther hadnt) and I was persuaded to pursue science instead. I was good at that too. I became a reclusive geek physics student who excelled at computers. But, as always, I focused only on what I enjoyed and barley scraped by in all the other subjects. The pressure to be a nobel prize candidate was too much - easier to rebel and quit college. I found I could earn big money as a programmer.

As long as I earned good money - I didnt need to deal with stuff - just put everything on my card and pay the minimum payment each month. If a card maxed-out, no problem, get another one and carry on. By proving I could be a whizz-kid at programming, I persuaded my bosses to spoon-feed me and protect me from concerns about multi-tasking or stuff like that. The deal was; you protect me from all this work stuff - and in return I will put in 80hr weeks and deliver amazing code. I was child-like for decades - an geeky recluse.

I did have girlfriends - sex was an obsession - and I was motivated enough to overcome my social ineptetude and be popular in the dating world. In the end I married and had a daughter - and was happy to be faithful in marriage because I found the other love of my life - alcohol.

I was always afraid. Even when things went well - I worried it was a bad sign. Alcohol washed away that fear. And nothing else in life could do that for me. I was clever enough to survive as a rip-roaring alcoholic by night and a functional employee by day. At least for a few decades. Then I got fired. I left home. I slept in my car. Then lost the car. And ended up on the street. I was good at being a 'gentleman of the road'. So unlike the others, I didnt die, or get arrested or hospitalised. I kept ahead of the possie and kept myself 'medicated' with booze.

One day I devised a 'cunning plan' to get back with my family - tired of the endless lonliness. I would go to AA and pretend to quit booze and move back home. Then sell the house and move to a cheaper location and live on the proceeds for a while. Maybe get an undemanding job.

Well AA was a shock! They really were the elite troops. My story was nothing compared to the experiences I found in my first meeting (heroine and crack-cocane ravished our cities back then - simple boozers like me were in the shallow-end). I saw wisdom. I meet strength. I found there was a way. It took me many years. But I got sober and did the steps and had myself a spiritual awakening. Life became so simple and good. I got a job. I had a loving family. I knew the meaning of serenity. I went to meetings and helped others to get sober.

My wife did not recover. She too had a disease that told her she did not have a disease. I got well and had to move on to protect my recovery. My daughter grew up and went off to college. I embraced a new way of living as a single man. I found a community of people who lived and loved like me - and I became an 'elder' in that community.

But thru all this time my old ways were still causing havoc. I never learned to deal with the details of life. Paying bills. Avoiding debt. Planning and executing practical strategies was beyond me. I just earned more and more to stay ahead of the game. More loans. More mortgages on more properties. I was sober but not fully functional. I was a brilliant procrastinator.

I thought I was just stupid and lazy. I would do extremely well in a new line of business. But the little details would slip by. Customers would love me for a while - but eventually my tardines on the details would undermine the trust. I was an excellent strategist. I was not a practical doer. I kept refining my business to take account of that. But always I would reach a point where the excuses and the explainations seemed to become bigger than the successes and the results - and I would move on.

Today I know I am not lazy. It takes a huge amount of hard work to live like I do. I am not stupid - in fact I am very clever and extremely inventive. But I am a chronic procrastinator. And that defeats me.

I have learned recently why I procrastinate. It goes back to the fear and anxiety of my youth. I feel I am unworthy. I cannot afford to take risks. I cannot afford to be seen to make a mistake o be lacking in any way. I must be perfect. I must have your approval. I need your praise to feel worthy. Hence I fear your criticism - your judgement. My self confidence is a monster that needs feeding daily. And no amount of praise or appreciation is enough to feed that appetite. Suddenly the monster breaks free and my self confidence is gone. I cannot open the mail. I cannot answer the phone. I cannot do the simplest of things - because I am paralysed by fear. So I put it off. I trick myself into being busy on safe stuff. The fearful stuff needs more time - or more equipment - or a big design - or some other 'outside' thing. Do it tomorrow, or next week. I make excuses. I spin fantistical complex networks of reasons and rationalisations for my failures. I over promise. I become a people pleaser. I cannot say no. I dare not refuse you anything. So I procrastinate - writing you 'checks' I can never cash.

So I am helpless. I am totally powerless over my procrastination. My life has become unmanageable.

I have (slowly) come to belive that only a power greater than myself can restore me to sanity. No matter how much yoga or tai chi I might do. Its not in me. Its beyond me. The solution lies outside me. Time to admit and accept.

So I have made a decision to hand all this over to a power greater than myself. A higher power of my understanding. Hand over my will and my life to my HP who loves me. My love for my daughter is a human love. My HPs love for me is devine. Greater and more reliable. My frail human love for my daughter holds but a candle to the huge unconditional love my HP has for me. So I surrender. Today. As I type this on my keyboard - I admit defeat and ask for help.

I asked for help and as a result I found this site. I have returned to my AA meetngs. I am trying to be honest. I am at the begining of a program of recovery. I have done this before with alcohol. I can do this again with procrastination. I know there is a way; the steps. Meetings. Sharing honestly. And helping others.

That is my story so far.

Respect, Paul





Welcome to the site, Paul. Thank you for your honesty and insight in sharing your story. Many aspects of it resonated with me, especially your recognition of the fears that are behind so much procrastination. I know I fear failure, not being good enough, the judgements of others and fear of what the future brings. And I have experienced that terrible sense of paralysis that fear can bring.

I don't know where it comes from, but a saying I find useful is "Feel the fear and do it anyway". Not as easy as it sounds, I know, but I think that taking time to acknowledge our fears can interrupt patterns of just wasting time.


further insight

Reading posts on this site has been inspirational and helpful.

One powerful new insight I have had is; procrastination (for me) is an addiction

So, I may have become a procrastinator as a result of fear in my life, and fear may be a trigger for my procrastination behavour - but over the decades it has become an addiction for me. I get a buzz from procrastinating (its a challenging way of life - trying to avoid things and yet not get into 'trouble'). It avoids facing unpleasant things.

The power of this insight for me is this; I recently figured out that fear is my trigger - tasks that have even a slight hint of fear associated with them get put off and I am pathalogically unable to overcome that - but simply removing fear from my life might not be enough to overcome chronic procrastination.

A heroine addict may have turned to heroine as a result of fear in their lfe. And fear may trigger their using at times - but, once addicted, the habbit will carry on even if the original stimuli are removed. They need help to overcome their addiction.

So I must deal with procrastination as an addiction and not just as a symptom of fear in my life. That is a profound new thought for me.

Hopefully my ability to achieve recovery from my addiction to alcohol will help me with my addiction to procrastination. I will use the same tools. Abstenance. The steps. Meetings. A sponsor. The fellowship. The big book. Service. A way of living that demands rigorous honesty. Phew. Not as simple as I first thought. I felt I could tackle this with my own resources and strength. Gulp! Guess not!

Why did I drink? Because I was addicted to alcohol (forget the other 'old' reasons).

Why do I procrastinate? - because I am addicted to procrastinating (duh!)

Dim but teachable



Coming to terms

Paul, By being here you are already on a road to recovery.

Congratulations on coming to an important realization. It's amazing how something that seems so obvious to our conscious mind when viewed in the light of day can take such a long time to register in the dark of our subconscious mind.

Wishing you all the best.