Why do I procrastinate? I’ve been wondering for some time.
I’ve long wanted to write a personal Hesitancy Manifesto, but I kept putting it off. I guess I wasn’t ever quite ready, or maybe I was ready but still asleep.
I rationalized that creating a formal declaration of delay implied that I didn’t take the principle seriously. Let’s face it, few people do. Procrastination is not held in high regard. Take Major General George B. McClellan. Take Hamlet.
People assume that procrastinators can’t pull the trigger because they fear failure. But it’s not that simple. Sure maybe you don’t ask someone out because you’re afraid of being rejected. But suppose that person accepts your offer–what good is that? Acceptance means you can’t go out with other people equally or even more desirable. Why rule out all those exciting unknown prospects by picking just one?
No, it’s not that I’m afraid to fail. It’s that I won’t settle for a single consequence.
Considering all the alternatives, no matter how remote, procrastination is only logical because procrastination is all about preserving possibility. For an architect, say, it’s easy to imagine a house of many shapes, sizes, and styles before the foundation is dug. As long as she doesn’t think too specifically about working, or start working, or actually work, she can build anything. And as long as she has yet to act, the possibilities are endless and every imaginable outcome presents unlimited promise.
To choose a course and act on it is to set all other courses aside. Until I lay down my first word, all sentences are available to me. So I procrastinate to preserve my maximum potential. As long as I hold off word smithing, I can prolong the pleasure of anticipating what I will write. And when that day comes when I do succumb to the urge to string letters together…
Why, then, the work’s mine oyster, Which I with word will open.
In the meantime, all that latent award-winning writing? I know I have it in me.