top of page

Why procrastination feels like progress

I already posted today.

I already wrote about a list I was going to make.

Instead, I ate lunch. Napped. Read my novel and ate ice cream.

There was a wee bit of satisfaction in it.

But the question is WHY?

Why does procrastination, lethal as it is, hold this element of progress. Just enough to keep me procrastinating rather than actually progressing?

Procrastination is a liar and a counterfeit.

We all know that. But why do I feel like I've actually accomplished something, even if I feel guilty about it?

#1 Procrastination is actually a decision.

I turn to procrastination not so much to avoid doing something unpleasant as much as to avoid doing something important.

I will do important things for others, but rarely for myself. In fact, some of my procrastination comes in the costume of righteous or helpful acts for others. But what's really going on is that I don't feel I deserve to have my name on the cover of a book, so instead I'll promote someone else's. I don't feel like I deserve to be paid for my work, so I'll give away my work and run a gallery for other artists. Hopefully, the thanks and approval I get will be a satisfying substitute for positive feedback or profitability I would otherwise have running my own gallery or selling my own paintings.

I confuse it by mixing my work in with others. Oddly, if my work sells the best - as it often does - I'll stop painting. Let them catch up. What is that!?

I'll procrastinate posting on my own social media by posting on The Loft so that I can hide behind posting about others and not feel like I'm bragging.

Ah! One reason I procrastinate is to avoid being judged for bragging. Again, I don't feel like I can stand behind my work or be pleased with it just because. It has to be there for a reason bigger than me so I can hide behind the reason if it gets criticized.

#2 I procrastinate because I'm afraid of being beautiful

I don't just mean beautiful in appearance. I mean that beautiful thing God created me to be.

Usually, when I procrastinate, I eat sugar. I stand frozen in a mirror of indecision. I get so easily paralyzed. So afraid to do it wrong - whatever it is. So confused on how to start since I've never done it before. Creativity by definition has at least a huge element of something that's never been done before. I can't figure it out before I start. I don't know WHERE to start. So I decide to eat.

I go get ice cream or chocolate. There is a temporary satisfaction in at least making a decision and following through, even though the cost is something I have to wear in a blanket of cellulite covered in clothing I don't really like.

Ironically, I'm trying to avoid shame. I'm worried that if I actually go do the thing I really am aching to do - write the book, paint from my heart with abandon, go outside and move my body - then I'll end up getting rejected or criticized if I don't do it the way someone else thinks I should. Perfectionist performer. Um, yup.

But if I just get going, breaking down the walls into tiny pebbles I can pick off... then maybe the wall will fall.

#3 Procrastination is socially acceptable - kind of

There's not a single female who won't laugh with me about hiding behind a vice. Everyone has one. There's a community of whiners who will welcome me... until I quit whining and actually DO something.

Then the critique sets in. The bleachers are full of onlookers who, from a distance, can tell me what I'm doing wrong.

The community I really want to be in is on the field. The problem is this - artists are solo-preneurs. The minute you start getting good, they push you away. Jealousy does this. Competition and insecurity do this.

You're only as good as your next big sale, blog post or blue ribbon.

But the masses will get drunk with you (if I drank, which I don't) and sing the blues with you. This commiseration is comforting until someone leaves the pack and finds their wings. They fly. And then the fellowship is all wrong and leaves me feeling heavy.

But flying alone. Yikes. I still want to fly though.

#4 Procrastination feels safe

Feeling safe does not always really mean you actually are safe. Sometimes, it's just familiar. But to have a familiar vice feeds something. It feeds me junk food that leaves me exhausted rather than nourished.

But risk is scary.

But this makes no sense. To create, you have to risk. You have to put a color down that needs to be tweaked. Sometimes, it's so bad you throw the whole thing out. That is not safe feeling.

But after you've done a technique long enough, maybe it begins to feel safe after all. You master your craft and the fear is not quite so fearsome?

I don't know yet. But it's worth finding out.

#5 Procrastination occupies time

Rather than writing on my book, I can sit here and write about procrastination. It feels productive. It may even have some clever sentences and phrases. But it is an imposter.

It is not my life call to write about procrastination. Maybe it will be someday. That would be ironic, right?

But today, I'm aching to write the first book on my heart.

So I'm going to try to flip procrastination on its wee little head... tomorrow.

Just kidding. I'm going to take a baby step before I go to bed - because I can.

14 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page