I often don’t start tasks right away, but I’m not a procrastinator. Traditional wisdom would have us believe that delaying even in the slightest on starting a project is automatically avoidance. But what about the times when it’s not?
I signed the contract to write my next book in April of 2017. I started writing in earnest in October, 5 months later.
I needed the months in between to marinate. I needed the book to appear. I needed to know what the heck I wanted to talk about and to go through about four different iterations of it before I knew where I wanted to land.
Had I sat down and “powered through” right when the deal was signed, I would have spent days writing pages that ended up in the trash. Lots of wasted time. Lots of wasted energy.
I believe in deadlines, and nine times out of 10 I hit them. Often early. I don’t believe in frittering away your time and making others wait for you (because that’s just disrespectful of them and their time).
But the creative process also takes as long as it takes. Just like the first trimester in pregnancy when we form all of the organs of a human being but we don’t even look pregnant yet, there is tremendous value in the time when it looks like nothing is happening but important things are brewing under the surface.
Our culture has a tendency to want to rush through this time or to skip it all together, but without it our creations lack roots, and they crumble at the first gust of wind.
Next time you aren’t starting a project and you’re not quite sure why, try trusting yourself instead of beating yourself up. Labeling yourself a procrastinator just makes you feel bad and, whether it’s true or not, is not going to help you take action. We cannot beat ourselves up enough to get ourselves to change in lasting ways. Love is usually a way better avenue.
Intuition sometimes likes to dress up as procrastination. She’s sneaky that way. She tip-toes around a task, sniffs it, turns it over a few times, perhaps makes a spreadsheet or list or two, then saunters away with a smirk on her face. She knows that more information is coming, that the time is not now, and that you’ll thank her for not starting when you find out the reason for the delay.
Some days you don’t start the book, don’t pick up the phone, don’t answer the email, don’t set the meeting, and don’t implement the strategy. Some days less is more. We have no way of consciously being aware of the myriad information available to us at all times. Luckily, our intuition has us covered. She’s not trying to delay your gratification or your progress. She’s simply looking out for you.
Is procrastination always intuition in a masquerade? No. Sometimes you’re just plain scared and stuck, and what you really need to do is bust through the resistance and just take some kind of action. If you’ve been in the same place for a really long time despite desiring to move forward in your life, this may apply to you.
Otherwise, trust your procrastination. She’s got some wisdom for you. She’s telling you there’s more information on its way.
She’s whispering that your perfect new hire still has a few weeks at their current job before you can scoop them up. She knows that the book idea is still in formation and she doesn’t want you to waste your time writing pages and pages only to scrap them.
She’s NOT telling you that you’re a bad person, a screw-up, a slouch, or lazy. She’s NOT telling you to get it together, buck up, muscle through, or (wo)man up.
Procrastination only shows up when you need her. She’s a trusted friend, a confidante, and your girlfriend who has your back no matter what. Trust her. Listen to her. Get curious when she shows up.
Your procrastination is wise. Listen up when she shows up.
OVER TO YOU:
Have you ever thought you were procrastinating only to realize that it was really your intuition knowing the ideal timing better than you? Tell me about it in the comments!
Kate Northrup is an entrepreneur, bestselling author, and mother who supports ambitious, motivated and successful women to light up the world without burning themselves out in the process. Committed to empowering women entrepreneurs to create their most successful businesses while navigating motherhood, Kate is the founder and CEO of Origin Collective, a monthly membership site where women all over the world gather to achieve more while doing less. Her first book, Money: A Love Story, has been published in 5 languages. Kate’s work has been featured by The Today Show, Yahoo! Finance, Women’s Health, Glamour, and The Huffington Post, and she’s spoken to audiences of thousands with Hay House, Wanderlust, USANA Health Sciences, and more. Kate lives with her husband and business partner, Mike, and their daughter Penelope in Maine. Find out more and receive your free copy of the 5 Simple and effective ways to get the results you want in your business at katenorthrup.com.
Image courtesy of Joshua Rawson-Harris.