Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task. ~William James

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Procrastinating 101: Lateness as an Evasive Move

Available from Zazzle
Procrastinating 101 again.  (Funny how nearly two years into this little online seminar, we're still at the survey level, the introductory 101.  But then we are still accommodating late arrivals.  And some of us--ahem--are still working on basic knowledge and skills, even after all this time.) 

This week, we are focusing on "Cure Seven:  Respect Yourself," in Diana DeLonzor's prescriptive Never Be Late Again:  7 Cures for the Punctually ChallengedTheoretically, if we have been employing DeLonzor's good advice, we should be nearly cured by now.  I suspect, however, that some cases may prove a bit more intransigent.

The current chapter paints a portrait of The Evader latenik which many of us will recognize.  Ms. DeLonzor tells us this kind of problem with showing up on time is really all about low self-esteem, which can contribute to punctuality difficulties in one of three main ways:

  • When you suffer from low self-esteem, you tend to expect less of yourself.  Because of those low expectations, you may set lower standards for the way in which you live your life.  Chronic lateness, unreliability, and procrastination can be part of those lower-than-normal standards.
  • Low self-esteem can cause feelings of anxiety or depression, prompting you to engage in the type of actions I refer to [as] the "evader syndrome," in an effort to relieve that anxiety.  The urge to soothe yourself can take priority over being on time.
  • Low self-esteem can cause you to fear success or failure and to engage in what is known as "self-handicapping."
No self-assessment quiz this week.  I guess we're expected to "know it when we see it."  Though I would venture to say that I know lots of people whose self-esteem is low enough that they would compliantly apply virtually any negative label to their own behavior, but who are not, in my view, especially prone to lateness.

DeLonzor advises this five-pronged strategy for improving the condition--evasive lateness--if it indeed inflicts us. 
  • Expect more from yourself--do what you know is right.
  • Learn to manage your anxiety.
  • Overcome fear of sucess or failure by challenging yourself.
  • Do something you love.
  • Build and maintain friendships and family ties.
As we have come to expect, Ms. DeLonzor presents a series of "exercises" which she says will help us begin to improve our self-esteem, and to change the lateness behaviors that stem from its less than ideal state.  I can already give myself credit for having practiced one of them religiously for years, though in isolation it has not yet had the effect of making me more punctual.  Here's how she describes it:
Let go of perfectionism.  Every day for the next week [or for several years] practice leaving the house or office without making things perfect.  You might leave the bed unmade or your desk in a mess [or the entire place looking like a cyclone has hit it].  Notice how it feels to "chill out" and let things go.  You'll probably find it liberating.  [I don't.]
 So, one down.  What else can I do to effect this "cure?"  Oh, yeah.  The exercise that would have us doing something courageous, something outside our oft-noted "comfort zone."  Like oh, say, competing in a triathlon, or two?  Been there, done that, still late for too many important things--though not for the race.

In fact, as I look over DeLonzor's list of 13 exercises, designed to help us begin to implement her five-pronged approach to a cure for low-self-esteem-based lateness,  I see that I have been doing much of what she suggests--recognizing negative self-talk; replacing it with positive self-talk; identifying my purpose and setting short-term goals related to it; nurturing relationships with family and friends.  Perhaps the difficulty is that I haven't been specifically targeting lateness.  DeLonzor does concede that some of us may have gotten to a point in life where our self-esteem level is fairly reasonable, but we may retain some residual habits and patterns which originated with since-resolved self-esteem issues. 

At this point in our reading of DeLonzor's book, we have run through all seven of the promised cures.  And I am coming to the conclusion that my lateness problem may have been caused originally by nearly all of the syndromes and character defects she outlines.  But the real difficulty is the habit of lateness that is deeply ingrained in me.  I believe that "treating" or "curing" whatever may have caused my lateness in the first place will not be enough to make me on time.  I need to change my habits.

But Ms. DeLonzor is one step ahead of me.  Next week's chapter:  "A Few Words on Habit Changing."

No comments:

Post a Comment