I’ve been reflecting on the related topics of procrastination and waiting recently. I share my thoughts in this article, and I’d welcome any feedback, insights, or relevant experiences you’ve had with all this. It’s something I’m guessing we’ve all dealt with at various times in our lives (maybe still do?).
The image you use at the top of your article is harrowing! In regards to the content, it got me thinking about ‘waiting’ in general. It seems to me that you refer to procrastination as the form of waiting in your piece, although it strikes me that there can be ‘active’ waiting as well as the passive kind which you refer to.
Active waiting is when you have a plan. You might set things in motion and see if they pan out. You might set many things in motion. Then you have lots of possibilities to actively manage and you have no time for procrastination.
Ever since I got into investing, I find that waiting is the hardest part but not because I wish for an outcome that may never come but rather because I place bets on many different outcomes. It is easy to become impatient sometimes. Being a contrarian investor, I often have to wait a long time for the trade to come into play. Sometimes, I gradually add to a long position that takes years to manifest, so I must wait awhile to see the execution pay off.
Investing has taught me to wait. I think of a variety of outcomes that are likely given the economic situation. I place probabilities on those outcomes and then size positions accordingly. I have become accustomed to a lower success rate than I would like but those which do succeed make everything worthwhile. This has made me more amenable to not expecting a specific outcome - or, rather, not waiting for a specific outcome. I plan for multiple outcomes and hope that at least one will be successful. This has taught me to enjoy waiting more.
Waiting also invites reflection. This is when some of the most profound ideas and emotions can be discovered. When I first read the play, “Waiting for Godot”, in French class as a high school student, I was not impressed. What was with all this waiting for someone (spoiler alert) who never arrives? I was not doing particularly well in the class. Thankfully, my teacher offered me an olive branch. She knew that I was into theatre and offered to let me improve my grade if I did a performance of some kind involving the play (Mrs Higgins, I will be forever indebted to you for that was a brilliant idea). I had a video camera which was unusual for the time (perks of being in the film industry) and I recorded a performance of myself and my classmate, Axelrod, doing a scene from the play. When we performed, shot, and edited the scene, I realized how rich and vibrant the reflections were between the characters while they were waiting for Godot. Godot didn’t matter one dot. There was so much more going on in the minds of the protagonists. Godot was the McGuffin. The real drama and profundity was elsewhere. This is what waiting can teach you.
I am thankful that I am blessed with a curious mind. I don’t recall ever being bored. My kids sometimes say that they are bored. I think it’s because they grew up with devices that gave them a brain hose at their disposal and when they don’t have them they feel bereft. I didn’t grow up with these things. I found the world, the people in it, the ideas, the passions, etc, all very interesting and my mind has never stopped exploring them. Honestly, I think I’ve only ever been bored a few times in my life, so it’s very hard for me to sympathize. To me, boredom is a lack of imagination and it’s best to let yourself get so bored that you start coming up with creative things to relieve it, I think.
Anyways, that’s my two cents on waiting.
I used to procrastinate working out (exercise) and act like I always had the time and most days would end up not doing anything because I thought I always had the time and would eventually get around to it because it seemed like such an easy task to do. To fix this procrastination I wrote down my fitness goal on a weekly journal planner, for example starting out with a very small goal of 20 push ups in the morning and 20 crunches/sit ups, starting to build off that momentum and increase slowly each time, also I have an accountability partner to check in with me to make sure I’m completing those goals.
Another comment I wanted to make that is not so much about procrastinating but more about waiting/relationships and not rushing things I want to refer to the Spanish song (Despacito) from Luis Fonsi - Take is slow so we can last long - Life should not be microwaved for the quickest easiest outcome but planted like a seed that grows slowly overtime creating strong roots in your life to take the path you desire. Thanks for sharing, This makes me reflect on how precious each moment is!
thanks for sharing your thoughts on this topic Sean – and yes, as for relationships, it’s a wise observation (which I agree with) that planting seeds that grow deep roots over time is the way to go - for enriching and empowering relationships that last and last.