Saturday, January 21, 2012

How to (Re)train Your Ego

I have come to the unfortunate realization that my procrastination is rooted in fear. I'm sure this is unsurprising to anyone other than me, but I've always given myself other reasons for it. What does it say about my character that I would rather believe myself lazy than afraid to do something?

I've always thought I wasn't afraid to do things, and, for the most part, that is true. I'm not afraid to try something new and not do well at it. After all, I've never done it before, so I can't be expected to be perfect right off the bat. Things I think I am good at, though, are another story.

If I put off writing a story until the deadline for submissions has passed, I tell myself I was busy. No big deal, there's always next time, right? Besides, I was crazy busy with the start of the semester. (Or end of the semester, or grading those tests, or...) My ego is protecting itself, I guess. If I have a deadline that is a firm deadline - say I'm taking a class and a project is due on a certain day - I may procrastinate, but I will make sure I have it done and turned in by the due date. I may not be a second before it, but I don't want to get a bad grade, so I get it done.

I need to retrain my ego to recognize the things I want to do as things I have to do. Firm deadlines seem to work for me, but they have to be deadlines to someone other than myself. To fix the problem, I am going to try setting firm, external deadlines. Here's hoping accountability will trump procrastination.

I have an application to a prestigious workshop that I want to finish before the deadline passes. I have the critiques on my sample pieces, I just need to polish the work and fill out the application. Here's my firm deadline: I will have it finished and submitted by February 1.

What about you? Do you procrastinate? Is it fear-based or is there another reason? What do you do about it?