I caught myself in a Big Procrastination today.
Yes, we all have little procrastinations. I often procrastinate cleaning the kitty litter because, after I clean the kitty litter, I clean the bathroom – and who likes cleaning the bathroom? Not me! (True story – I used to host dinner parties every couple of weeks because it forced me to clean the bathroom so it would be clean for the guests. …And if you think I should be cleaning the bathroom more often than that, you are welcome to come clean it for me.)
I am procrastinating finishing the last video-reading in a year-long course that I have been taking. I have put it off all week because first, it’s an hour long and it’s hard to find an hour during the week. And second, because it’s Deepak Chopra. (Another true story – many years ago Chopra was the lunch speaker at a conference I attended. The woman seated next to me gushed about Chopra all through lunch; he was her favorite author and she was so excited she couldn’t sit still. At that point, I had no idea who he was other than a guy that people liked, and I kind of caught her excitement. Finally, it was time. He ascended to the podium, the lights dimmed. Her face lit up. And he started speaking: “Today I am going to talk about my new book. Chapter 1 is the first chapter. It is the start of the book, the beginning of the idea. It comes first, before all the other chapters. Being first…” From that auspicious beginning, he progressed to chapter 2 – the second chapter in the book that built on the idea introduced in the first chapter – and then chapter 3. I think he got up to chapter 9 in that interminable hour that he spoke and – it was many years ago – I don’t remember any of the ideas that he spoke about. I just remember how hard I struggled not to fall asleep. The lights came back up and I glanced over at his biggest fan. Her light had dimmed. She looked stunned. She quietly put the book in her bag and disappeared out the door. And I have never been able to listen to him since then.)
Since Covid, I have also been procrastinating about walking. At first, it was this superstitious thing, like I could catch Covid from walking in the mostly empty streets, even when masked. Then I was cocooning and avoided leaving the apartment at all. Then it was winter again and too wet and cold. Now it’s sunny and this is peak bird migration week at Central Park and I really want to go, but something inside me is lazy and just wants to go back to the show I’ve been binging…
But this morning, I have cleaned the kitty litter and the bathroom and I have queued up the video to watch right after this, and after that, I’m going out to the park. Because today, they are not my procrastinations: today, they are the things I am using to avoid doing the Big Procrastination.
What is the Big Procrastination? The Big Procrastination, I realized this morning, is launching a new website, a website dedicated to coaching professional women who find themselves sandwiched between work and caring for elderly parent(s) and also kids, if they have them. I’ve been meaning to do it for weeks and now it’s coming down to crunch time because I have a speaking gig lined up and I need a website to refer them to, and I haven’t launched it. I’ve planned it and written the content, and had a logo made and I’m finding lots of reasons why I’m not ready to launch it yet. I’ve exhausted the technical – what if I pick the wrong host and want to change later? The financial – what if I spend the money and then can’t make it back? The aesthetic – I literally have no photographs of myself to put on the site.
And the truth is, this time it’s FEAR. What if I launch the site and put myself out there and everyone laughs at me? What if the people in my professional world, who know me as a change manager or a project manager or an operations director, look at me and wonder if I’m doing this because I couldn’t achieve the lofty heights that they intend to achieve. What if, what if, what if…
The truth is, I’m doing this because this is what moves my heart. It’s my passion project, and everyone should have a passion project. And anyone who wants to laugh at me or judge me for pursuing a passion that will make the world a better place is going to find themselves in a really bad place when they find themselves unprepared for caring for their own elderly parents.
So there. I’ve named my fear and I’ve done it publicly.
I have nothing left to lose.
Now excuse me, I need to go launch a website.