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.

What Higher Purpose is Procrastination Keeping You From?

Monica's picture

"Excuses are the tools that a person with no purpose or vision uses to build great monuments of emptiness."
(author unknown to me)

If I can't do it perfectly, I'll do it anyway. If I can't do it all, I'll do some. If I do nothing, nothing gets done.

"I don't feel like it" is a poor sacrifice for your dreams.

Monica's picture

The Motivation and Purpose Connection

I have really been struggling with motivation this morning. Several times I've asked myself, "Why am I doing these tasks? Is it to keep peace in the home? Is it to keep peace at work? Is it to keep the bill collectors from my door? Is it to save face with friends, family, and the occasional visitor?" All of these reasons and many more are good reasons. But some how they aren't enough this morning. They spark no interest in action. So I thought to myself, if everything was done, if the house was clean, the bills were paid, the dinner was cooked, the paper clutter was gone, and I never procrastinate again...then what? That's when I realized something. Only in my higher purpose do I find lasting motivation.

I believe my higher purpose is to minister to others. Reconnecting to that purpose has rekindled my energy and I'm focused again.

If I can't do it perfectly, I'll do it anyway. If I can't do it all, I'll do some. If I do nothing, nothing gets done.

"I don't feel like it" is a poor sacrifice for your dreams.

Higher Purpose: The "Quest" Question

I'm new to this site, but I've struggled with procrastination a long time.  I have 3 questions on the subject of higher purpose.  One I think I can help people answer.  But I need help with the other two.  I'll post them each in turn.

First, is the "quest" question.  What is your higher purpose?  How do you find your higher purpose? 

It took me 7 years just to figure out what my higher purpose was....this is how I did it.  I turned my procrastination into something a little bit productive.

When I procrastinated, I did it by exposing myself to new ideas (healthy ones, though) instead of pursuing the same ideas.  I tried not to procrastinate in the same way twice.  I went to classes, seminars, and meetings where I wasn't even registered, where no one knew me, and where there were no expectations of me, and just listened.  This minimized the procrastination factor, because I could just sit around like a sponge, absorbing information.  I didn't think too hard or concentrate too hard - this was not work, just absorbing.  

Granted, SOME meetings have registration lists and it would be hard to get in.  But your average introductory college class is so huge and so anonymous that you can walk right in and listen.  Other times, if you just ask the presenter, they are so flattered that some stranger has come to hear them, they will agree for you to stay.

I picked up magazines and books I would never think of reading.  I visited websites I would never think of visiting.  I watched interviews of people I would never think of watching.  I particularly explored ideas I had previously (long ago) dismissed as boring or "not for me."  When I found ideas GENUINELY exciting, I studied them more.  Where they were not interesting, I avoided those groups, magazines, or websites thereafter (because returning would be unhelpful procrastinating....)  But don't be surprised if you come across the same idea from a different angle and find it exciting.  Pursue it from that angle!

When I studied things more, if the excitement went away, I knew I had not found my purpose.  And I knew when I HAD found my purpose because whenever I read about it, talk about it, hear about it, study it, even years later, I am still excited.  That doesn't mean I don't procrastinate about it, but I still feel excited.  Studying it also informed me of the first steps I needed to take to fulfill it. 

So ends the first question.

In the interests of confessing my unhealthy cycle of procrastination and perfectionism, I originally posted these questions in logical order, so that they appeared in reverse chronological order, or backwards on the site.....  I went back and flipped them around after I wrote them.  I'm sick, I know.  God, I know.

An Artifact of My Unhealthy Perfectionism

An Artifact of My Unhealthy Perfectionism

Higher Purpose: The "Gaping Hole" Question

Now I get to the questions I haven't been able to answer.....  The second question is the "gaping hole" question.  Yes, there is a lot of clutter between me and my higher purpose.  Yes, if I got through the clutter I could work on my higher purpose.  Yes, my higher purpose is still surrounded by energy and motivation.

My trouble is the "gaping hole".  I know the next steps (post getting through the clutter) for proceeding towards my higher purpose.  But I don't know all the steps.  Who does?  But unhealthy perfectionism leads me to lose motivation for any task in which I can't see all the steps. 

Believing that if I take the next steps, I will see the further steps and be able to accomplish them, requires hope and faith.  I used to have those things, but I don't know how to restore them.  My expectations are easily crushed these days and my disappointments are long-lasting.

Higher Purpose: The "Oh My God, What Have I Done?" Question

My third question, my second unanswered question on higher purpose is one very frightening for me to discuss.  What if I achieve my higher purpose and end up saying, "Oh My God, What Have I Done?"

Is it possible I procrastinate to avoid my higher purpose? Are there reasons this might be true?  I can think of two possible reasons.  I'm not sure they're correct, but I can't say for certain they are not.  Beyond that, I have no idea how to overcome them.

Reason 1:  Could I be avoiding my higher purpose out of a fear of my capabilities?

I sometimes think about my classmates or even my best friend – their lives are humming along, maybe they’ve never faced the chronic sickness of loved ones like I have, maybe they've never faced the ongoing loneliness that I have, maybe they have supportive significant others, friends, etc.....  and although I have this huge problem with procrastination, thus far, I’m more or less keeping up with them.  Yes, I've learned to cut corners.  Yes, I've learned to operate in crisis.  Sometimes those aren't the best tactics to employ, but sometimes, they are the only tactics that work in life.
So I think, IMAGINE what I could do if I wasn’t procrastinating. I could rule the world, so to speak.  On an intellectual level, I like responsibility. Schoolwork has always bored me because it doesn't really matter to anyone. I like having my work matter to real people. But I also fear disappointing others - I mean seriously disappointing them - or even directly hurting them with my actions. (Note that I obviously don't regard the effects of my procrastination as serious disappointments, just annoying ones. I know I annoy people, but I seldomly hurt them.... at least that's what I tell myself.)

If my higher purpose will give me more responsibility over more people - world-shaping kinds of responsibility - a position where I could do people real harm if I fail - is that fear of failure fueling my procrastination?

Reason 2: Could I be avoiding my higher purpose out of a fear of even greater loneliness and isolation than I currently feel?

I have noticed that the more successful I become, the more educated I become, and the more money I make, other people: want more things from me, are less willing to give anything to me, understand me less, fear me (as the unknown, not because I'm scary or anything) more.  In other words, the more I pursue my higher purpose, the more isolated I become.  You know the old saying, "It's lonely at the top."  Am I using procrastination in a misguided effort to fight my sense of loneliness?

So ends question three.

very interesting question

This is a very interesting question and is addressed very directly in a book I'm reading, "The War of Art". I don't have time to type more now, but I'll write more about it later.

Procrastination is the grave in which opportunity is buried.