Monday, October 02, 2006

Procrastination and Hypocrisy

I spent some time cogitating on the weekend. I have a thorny problem to deal with, not a huge thing itself on the universal scale of gargantuan and damn near insoluble problems, or even anything close to that, but nevertheless something that needs to be settled. So, I took a few moments on Sunday, while I was driving around running errands, and thought about what I should do about the problem. I resolved to write a proposal to deal with the situation, to be presented to some associates of mine, and then deal with the yeas (hopefully) or nays (possibly) that might result from my proposal if and when they appeared.

I started the proposal earlier today. I typed a bunch of words. I did some calculations. I designed a spreadsheet to be included as part of the presentation. Now, several hours later, I'm not nearly finished, although I easily could have been.

What's my point?

My point is that I didn't feel like finishing the proposal. It can wait until tomorrow. I'm a pretty disciplined guy, but sometimes it is OK to take a break, to put something off, to procrastinate just a bit.

Not too much procrastination, though. That is the gist of an ongoing and seemingly never-ending dialogue that I am having with my son. My suggestion to him is to get the worst of his homework assignments and the most unappealing chores out of the way first, as soon after he gets home from school as possible. My son doesn't like that lesson. Play first, work later is his approach. The consequences are predictable.

Here, I am, though, procrastinating myself. I'm writing a blog post. Before this, I read the news. I read other blogs. I checked the spot price of gold and silver. I did everything but what I should be doing. Am I a hypocrite?

Maybe. Maybe not.

The lesson I am trying to teach my son is that the best career anyone can achieve is one that allows flexibility and choice. To me, that includes being able to decide when, or even if, to do something. No one is going to fire me if I don't finish my proposal today, or ever, so I guess I do have that flexibility. However, if I never finish the proposal, there might be undesirable consequences. I might not like the consequences, but I could survive them.

Life is all about responsibility. If I never finished the proposal, a lot of time will have been wasted, not just by me, but by others. I have given my word to associates of mine that I will try to solve the problem at hand and, as in the fable, to turn a sow's ear into a silk purse. My word is my bond, so I will make every attempt to do just that.

I don't think that tomorrow I am going to feel much like finishing the proposal either. But I will finish it. And I will do an even better job than I would have, had I completed it today. I made a promise.

Today, I will do what I want, or not do anything at all. That is the flexibility and the freedom that I want my son to attain. And, I want him to attain it by himself. It won't mean anything if Daddy gives him a 'job' that requires nothing except attendance at lunches and golf games. It will only mean something if he achieves the flexibility and freedom himself.

The issue at hand here, though, is about my responsibility, not his. My promises, not his. I guess if I am going to try to teach my son this particular lesson, I will have to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.

I guess I know what I will be doing tomorrow morning.

1 comment:

  1. The play first attitude is normal for his age, of course. But, I understand the strain of trying to instill the benefits of proactive behavior. When I am tempted by procrastination, I think about how much more free I will feel to enjoy my activities as rewards than to know all the way through them that I have to follow up the fun with work. I don't know if that is a concept that will work for him right now. The inviciblity factor of his age is such that work isn't anything to worry about, isn't that hard and will be completed without effort or strain.. later. It's a lesson he'll probably have to teach himself, but it's good that you keep on him, while it doesn't have time to become habit.

    I'm not telling you anything that you don't already know. Just being supportive to your efforts to help contrast against the frustration.

    I procrastinate by blogging, too. And, commenting... (back to work) ;)