When looking for ideas on what to write about, I often rely on the bad habit of waiting for inspiration to strike me by doing very little and thinking very little. If you watched the video below, you’ll understand that this video has shed a light on this on-going issue I have. It may also be funny to note that YouTube recommended it to me. Thank you YouTube—now stop telling me how to live my life.
For months I had known that my family planned to take a trip to New Zealand half-way through the Uni semester, providing me with plenty of time to complete any assessment due. Much like Tim Urban, the Ted Talk presenter in the attached video, I kept pushing it back telling myself “It’ll be right” and thinking that in a week I will somehow have better willpower or be older and wiser to complete the assessment at a higher standard.
Lies, all of them—it turns out the hope I had for myself was misplaced. This wasn’t a surprise though, I saw it coming and wish I’d done the work sooner so that my holiday wasn’t full of stress.
Tim Urban talks about the two types of procrastination—short term and long term. Short term can be defined as the little things like Uni assessment, writing an article or checking the tire pressure on your car—all of which are important but typically don’t take up more than a month of your time. Whereas, long term procrastination includes relationships, finances and big goals or dreams that you hope to fulfil someday.
The difference between the two, is deadlines. Short term goals have definitive deadlines e.g. an assignment is due on a particular day. Long term goals have no deadlines, so we get used to saying, “I’ll start next year.” And year after year, we feed ourselves this same lie knowing deep-down that nothing is going to change unless we actually do something.
Unfortunately, things don’t always fall into place the way we think it should. Our relationships and friendships won’t grow stronger without time and effort, and that business won’t start until we start that business. Urban mentions that the long-term procrastinations are the most dangerous. Why? Because of “The Panic Monster” as Urban puts it.
This is the procrastinators “guardian angel” because it recognises the deadlines that quickly sneak up on us and puts us into panic mode, which often leads to work being accomplished.
Holding off on mending a relationship is a serious gamble as we have no deadline—there is no motivation. This can also relate to reading the Bible or building a relationship with God—two things that are infinitely important.
Two key people
Hebrews chapter 12, verse 11 says: “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”
The Bible encourages diligence and hard work and criticises laziness by warning against the dangers of it. Urban's Ted Talk introduces a few key members of the procrastination team that we all have.
The first being The Rational Decision-maker—the captain of your brain (or should be anyway). All the good and bad ideas are filtered through him to make sure we don’t make bad decisions.
The second character was the ‘Instant Gratification Monkey’. This little guy prefers to have fun and do what’s easiest rather than what should be done. The instant gratification monkey wants to take the plan that God has and throw it away. He doesn’t want you to get things done, he wants you to think you are being productive when you’re not.
That voice is deceitful, much like the voice of the enemy who also desires to ruin God’s plan.
Colossians chapter 3, verse 23 says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”
So I conclude, leaving things to the last minute and not doing them whole-heartedly isn’t going to make my holiday better or achieve the results I want. In the long run, it’s easier to get rid of the monkey and live the life God planned for me.
Jesse Moore draws from the Bible and classical literature for insight into life’s tough questions. He is currently studying at university to become a film-maker.
Jesse Moore’s previous articles can be viewed at: https://www.pressserviceinternational.org/jesse-moore.html