By Olanrewaju Ajiboye
‘Incorruptible by money; the root cause of all evil; impervious to body weaknesses; and though generously endowed with presence and magnetism, there is an uncanny ability to resist their allures for mundane gains, no wonder the overflowing grace of patience , virtue and Godliness. What rational human being would encounter this ’Jewel’ and not appreciate and embrace it? Only those who appreciate the value of ’Kola nut’ wrap it in preservative leaf, goes the adage in Southwest Nigeria.’
Procrastination is a virus, it is a clog in the wheel of progress, and it is humanity’s enemy next only to the devil. It can even be qualified as an agent of the Devil.
Defined simply as the act of “…putting off or delaying… something requiring immediate attention”, Procrastination is worth more than that cosmetic definition. It is an act that can deprive an individual of most his or her life wishes ; denial of success, opportunities, progress, pursuit of happiness on one part and gnashing of teeth, regret, bemoaning, stress and nostalgic feelings are all its residual effects in a victim.
Psychologists observe low sense of self worth, self defeating mentality and conscientiousness associated with dreams and wishes of perfection or achievement instead of realistic appraisal of their obligations and potential as the causes of Procrastination. David Allen posits that Procrastination is not a bye product of laziness, but rather as that of anxiety, and goes ahead to categorize the anxiety into two. First as”… things too small to worry about…” and second as “…things too big to control.” Allen gives two examples of the two categories. The first example he gives is in having a cluttered room to be organized to represent “things too small to worry about”. And the dilemma of adult siblings who are contemplating the best living arrangement for their parent whose health is deteriorating represents “things too big to control“.
At this juncture it is ideal to appropriate the experiences of procrastinations in the past to our individual lives. As young students, we usually see role models either in our schools or elsewhere. We start to dream these role models’ lives and we aspire to live them. This is what Paulo Coelho alludes to as “principle of favorability” and “Personal legends” and Daniel R. Castro urges us to live the lives of heroes by bringing a force to the table, he goes further to say that “the force is you.” The foregoing references are contained in their highly inspirational books titled ‘The Alchemist’ and ‘Critical Choices that change lives’.
For example, a physical education teacher announced that he wanted to assemble a team of athletes and asked those who thought they could perform to sign up in his office. The announcement was made on the assembly ground and when the teacher was talking, you knew you had the inner ability to make up the team but you were lethargic and went procrastinating about it until the team was formed. The team went on series of inter- school competitions and talents were discovered and taken to next level. So many years later when Procrastination had denied you your natural talent, and muscles had become weak, you were telling stories to your kids about how a particular successful athlete used to be your friend in your secondary school days. That during amateur contests among students in those days, you used to out-run him on your school’s field. That story to your kids is mere story, it is regret, and it is nostalgia because you had the chance to be in that position but Procrastination took dominion over you.
We can draw another example; when you got admission to the tertiary institution, you had already figured out who your choice of spouse would be after graduation and after you must have seen signs of financial security. Right in front of your nose, providence dropped your dream girl at your doorstep because you were pursuing the same course but all along you were a vicarious admirer, you were lethargic, you were procrastinating. You were dying of your affection for her but was unable to make a move whether you would succeed or fail, yet her thoughts never ceased on your subconscious at all times. You could not concentrate on your academic activities. Instead of talking, you were stalking harmlessly. At the end, another guy with same feelings as you jumped at the opportunity and won. You were supposed to earn a first class by virtue of your brilliance but because of accumulated crises occasioned by Procrastination, you ended up with a third class, a double jeopardy; you were unable to initiate a move for the girl and you also lost a good academic attainment caused by your accumulated feelings that were never promoted. It took you several years in search of a dream girl after school, you even made efforts to know the status of the very lady you wanted in school happenstance she could still be available or at best you were looking for another with similar qualities. Mummy started to pester you in demand for a grandchild as the first child and your junior siblings had already met their own dream spouses but out of respect, would want you to perform the marriage rites first. In frustration and desperation you chose to settle for the expediency. Even though you knew she was not your choice, you were still possessed with Procrastination in telling your mother your true feelings and the lady in question. Eventually you settled for a compromised marriage. You were now caught in a quagmire of the sayings that goes thus, “In seeking what we wanted, we were given what was good but if what was good was not what we desired?” Your situation would continue to be that of someone who uses bowl -shaped mortar as a sleeping pillow; such shall never have good sleep.
What about you whose mother put her all so that you could get it right in life? The breadwinner died when you were an infant. Mama went through many difficulties to raise you.
She hawked stuffs, fried cake beings, did cleaning jobs and ran errands for others just to give you a chance in life. She did not desist from trusting God and fasting regularly to seek God’s mercy and kindness on you. God answered her prayer and you were successful in life. Mother was living in the village and you had become married with your own children who were not lacking in all the good things of life. Yes, you were always sending money and groceries to Mama in the village, but Mama made a single request of you, “Please my loving son, since the village is not far from your city, please visit me at least once in two months, I thank you for the food and money, but your physical presence makes me happier and gives me warmth, besides there are many things to talk about as the thoughts come to my mind.” You promised Mama you would be doing more than she requested but instead, you kept procrastinating on your promise of visits only to hear that Mama had passed on one day. You were able to give her a befitting burial but you would have to carry a moral burden for a very long time to come and you would have to deal with the verdict of guilt that would continue to assail your conscience especially if the allures of social club gathering held you back all these while she had been earnestly calling on you to come.
Are you the type that suffers from the relaxed type of procrastination where you abandon your responsibility at work but not missing out at your club house where you facilitate things? If this kind of lethargy had cost you your job in the past, it is time to avoid accidental burns the second time, wake up and seek help.
Is your own Procrastination the tense afraid type? Are you easily overwhelmed with pressure? Do many goals run riot in your subconscious and you are unable to focus? Do you fantasize on giant but unrealistic plans that are capable of making you to end up as a failure? Help yourself by seeking help. Help yourself by looking at the mirror and see who you see. Who you see is you and the destiny to change things are in the body and the soul of that person you see in the mirror. The time you wake up is your morning. Do your part and let God take control.
A nation in the hand of a procrastinating leader is bound to suffer consequences; owner of business who loves to delay will soon be overtaken or be forced out of business by those who are on parallel lines with Procrastination, ditto for a pilot who procrastinates on flying check lists errors; he would only end up endangering the lives of his passengers.
Have I been a victim myself? Yes, on a number of occasions.
Procrastination has robbed me of a dream that God in His infinite mercy thrust on me without paying a dime. I shall forever appreciate the little period I lived it and bemoan forever, its slipping away from me.
The message is; do not delay till tomorrow what you have the capacity to do today because there may be no tomorrow and please do not misconstrue procrastination as an act of destiny. Destiny comes to play when you have attempted what you can do today and you failed, perhaps God has a different plan or wants to save you the agony of unpleasantness associated with that efforts.
DEDICATED TO THAT PERSON IN WHOM I SEE MYSELF IN A MIRROR.
“.. that when you focus on problems, you will have more problems. When
you focus on possibilities, you will have more opportunities.”