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Tomorrow Never Comes: Procrastination In Recovery

Procrastination will continue to hold you back from reaching your potential.
I’ll do it tomorrow. I’ll get to it later. I’ll pay it in a few days. I’m too busy to do it now. It can wait. And the list goes on and on and on…

Any of this sound familiar? Congratulations, you’re just like me and millions of others that have earned the glorious title of procrastinator. All jokes aside, most people including myself would love to break away from this awful habit. Procrastination affects a large portion of the population at some point in their lives. Those who have or may even still be in active addiction know this behavior better than most.

During my own personal addiction putting things off was basically my entire existence. Rent due? Oh, well if I pay it in the three-day grace period that still leaves me money for a little something-something after work. But wait, I already owe my guy some money from last week, so let me pay him first so I can get something today, and I’ll pay him for today’s stuff next week. This type of thinking infected just about everything in my life. Constantly putting things off and doing just the bare minimum to get to tomorrow where I swore, I would catch up. Well, I never did. In fact, it was kind of the opposite. Life caught up with me instead.

Fast forward to today after 3 years of sobriety (insert applause here) and all of my procrastination and other life problems have suddenly disappeared! Or not. Granted, my life is immeasurably better than it was 3 years ago but life was never meant to be “perfect”. Perfection means there’s no need for further improvement or growth. As my fellow people in recovery know, this is a dangerous place to be. From my experience, when I believe I’m “cured” or stop doing the things that got me sober, relapse starts knocking at my front door.

Procrastination Affects Your Recovery

With that being said do I still procrastinate? Of course. Am I in potentially life-threatening situations anymore from that procrastination? Thankfully no, but maybe sometimes depending on how you look at it. One of my biggest areas of procrastination, especially when I first tried to get sober a decade ago was 12-step work. Working with a sponsor and going through the steps is one of the most valuable recovery tools we have. I wish I could take sole responsibility for being sober today. However, after many failed attempts I’ve come to the conclusion that I need help to stay that way. Go figure. Putting off step work again and again continually led me back to active addiction. Hence the argument that procrastination could be deadly in this situation.

Thankfully there aren’t any other ways I can think of that procrastination affects my life in a dangerous manner. In fact, I’ve made it a point to be more mindful of when I’m procrastinating and take action instead. I used to be a disaster at things like financial planning, daily responsibilities, and my health. 3 years and a lot of trial and a lot of error later I can confidently say I’m way better at these things. Not perfect, better.

So, what did I do to stop the slacking? Here are a few of my personal tips to get a grip on your procrastination.

  • Do the worst first

    – When I have something that I really don’t want to do I actually prioritize it. Getting the most difficult thing on your list done first can give you an amazing sense of accomplishment. Just make sure you don’t use finishing the hard task as an excuse to put the others aside.

  • Set a time and DO IT!

    – Constantly saying you’ll “get to it later” is what got you here in the first place. Getting started can be tough, so setting aside a designated time and following through is a great first step. Set small goals such as 30-minute work sessions to start out. Baby steps.

  • Stop making excuses

    – How many times have you made excuses that were justifications for laziness? “I’ll do it next weekend when I have time” When really, this weekend you were busy binge-watching The Office on Netflix. As much as I’d rather just Netflix and chill, the feeling from crossing everything off that list is pretty darn satisfying too. Besides, nothing beats kicking back without a worry in the world.

You may have noticed none of my tips are particularly groundbreaking. Well, that’s because they’re the same ones that have worked forever. It’s really a matter of making a decision that you’re done with procrastination in your life. However, once you decide to make a change action needs to follow. Otherwise, you’ll continue to be stuck in the same cycle. Don’t expect miracles overnight either. Progress can take time and persistence. The most important part is to never give up. Progress not perfection as they say.

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