A few years ago I set aside a day to work through a few piles of personal finance avoidance. Instead I spent most of the day surfing the net to get to the bottom of how come I procrastinate in this area of my life and what the heck should I do about it?
As most of us can appreciate at some level or another, procrastination is a very tricky business. Loads of self-help tries to talk you out of it with tips and tricks, but Procrastination Why You Do It and What to Do About NOW is the only serious book I’ve come across on the topic – based on over thirty years research (talk about procrastination!)
Rather than it being a reflection of a moral failing or a basic time management problem, it turns out procrastination is another one of those complex psychological issues — the roots of which gnarl through murky emotional, biological, interpersonal and cultural human tendencies. Thank goodness, yet another fault that isn’t my fault.
Because I am a little bit better than I used to be regarding the depth of my avoidance techniques when it comes to money management, I am not going to read this entire book before I sort out what I need to do next. I’m half-way through it anyway. And actually I worked out what I needed to do next about my finances some 29 blogs back…
And yet over the course of this 31-day blogathon, depsite the fact that I publically announced in Psychology of Money: 1, 2 and 3 what I needed to do about my taxes, here we are at blog 30 and I haven’t (though somehow I can squeeze in a daily committment to blog?!)
I’m not going to lie to you, sorting my taxes ain’t going to happen before the blogathon comes to a wrap tomorrow.
During that ½ day of my life that I lost several years ago surfing the net to get to the bottom of my procrastination, I still remember one piece of advice that I came across which struck a deep cord (clearly to no effect at the time.)
It went something like this …
Procrastinators have lied to themselves so many times – about what they’re going to do and when they’ll do it by, that they no longer have a shred of credibility with themselves.
Ok it wasn’t as harsh or as sweeping as that – but this was the gist. And the solution? Stop making any promises to yourself immediately. And when you’re ready, make a promise to yourself that you actually keep. And keep doing that – slowly making only the sorts of promises — one at a time — that you know for sure you will deliver on. The reasonable and realistic sort, based on your knowledge of yourself and your schedule and the sorts of interruptions you can bank on – what can you really get done/by when? In this way you slowly earn back your own self-trust.
As a serial over-goaler (in most areas of my life) and an avoider (in matters related to money and health), this struck me as a very sane way out.
And so I really need to sort out my taxes. My next action from 29 blogs ago was to look through a pile of papers to see if I could find an online code from 2001 and if not call the tax office and wait another 3 weeks for them to re-issue it. I know what I have on this week and there isn’t any obvious pocket of time for me to calmly flip through papers that are likely to lead to all sorts of new next actions and anxieties, but I can commit to doing this within a week. I have deadline for a project I care a lot more about which is next Sunday, therefore if I use that deadline as an excuse to avoid the paper pile for the next 6 days in a row, I’ll have no excuse this day next week.
So one way or another I’ll make the time and JUST DO IT.