Procrastination is most likely the absolute worst habit known to man. It is known only to man because we as a human race (at least in the developed world) have become so accustomed to luxury and leisure time that we can afford to procrastinate. Unlike bears constantly foraging for food for fear of frostbite, our survival does not immediately rely on our ability (or inability) to withstand procrastination and maintain a constant motivational drive. Procrastination is, however, quite dangerous and is most likely the worst habit one can hold on to.
Worse than smoking, worse than speeding on the highway, worse than lying motionless on the couch watching hours of thought dampening television, procrastination is of greater danger to our personal and societal wellbeing. Other than perhaps speeding on the highway, this is due to the fact that procrastination is at the root of most of these other personal and social vices. Biology aside, I will wait until tomorrow to quit smoking, another 3 hours of electronic boredom, because tomorrow is a new day, a fresh start. That is, until tomorrow comes and a friend offers you a cigarette, or that new History Channel special is on. Procrastination prevents many things from getting done. And if they do get done procrastination has its influence on the half-assedness of the project.
I have grown too accustomed to procrastinating. During college I became a self-proclaimed professional procrastinator, waiting until the last minute for the immense pressure of the fear of failure to kick me from first straight into sixth gear. Once out of school, with a broken leg and no deadlines for projects, life and all the motivation to keep fighting seemed to be sucked out of me. It has been well over a year since my expedition to Patagonia and I still have only written about the first two days of two and a half weeks. Books piled high on my coffee table, each marked halfway through, stacked next to a rarely opened box of GRE vocabulary cards. But the life is slowly coming back. I am slowly re-realizing its importance.
To use the banal paraphrase of Newton’s First Law of Motion: a body in motion tends to stay in motion while a body at rest tends to stay at rest. And thus as situations turn sour mood turns sour, which in turn creates a lack of motivation in which procrastination festers. Yet the opposite is also true. Motivational momentum builds with each success, propelling one towards a state of bliss. Over the past seven months physical therapy became my only motivation. But as each small step was reached, I began to branch out, applying for jobs, setting new goals, and for the first time in too long: building calendars.
If there is one thing that I have learned over the past two years it is that moments and opportunities are meant to be seized and turned into a reality, not procrastinated upon and left in a dream. For although we can afford to procrastinate in our comfortable human lives, not having to worry about building precious fat reserves to last the winter, our survival does in fact rely upon our ability to deal with procrastination. The soulless psychopaths who’s attitude in life is to screw everyone over so that they can die with the most toys will walk all over us as we sit in front of our television sets and think about what we might consider doing tomorrow or next week. Our economies, or societies, our natural environments, and especially our personal lives will eventually collapse if we sit idly, lacking the motivation to fight procrastination.