Positive Procrastination

I’m currently in this coaching program called Passion Possible, and I’ve been learning so much from this experience already. I remember in one of our sessions, my coach said that there are times when procrastination is a good thing. She said that there are times when our gut is trying to tell us something, and our reaction is to delay an action to be done at a later time. It’s like an indirect and slower way of telling us something important.

And this got me thinking: when in my life has procrastination been a good thing? I came up with a few:

1. Procrastination prevented me from applying to grad school right after I had finished university. When I was in second year, I started to look at programs that would interest me. I found a Masters in Peace and Conflict Studies at the Universities of Manitoba and Winnipeg (it’s a joint program) and immediately fell in love with it. I honestly thought that that was it for me. I had the same feeling when I stepped onto the Glendon College campus for the first time, and even when I was looking through university degrees on the York University website. Sometimes, though, gut reactions don’t reveal the whole truth to you right away.

2. Procrastination prevented me from applying to a job I wouldn’t like. I remember looking at a specific non-profit website, and saying to myself, “If all else fails, I’ll apply here.” I thought that this would be a last resort for me, a safety net, because it was in the field I was interested in and I knew I would learn a lot from the job. But then, I had looked up reviews on the organization itself, and they were overwhelmingly negative. So negative that I was sad that a non-profit I’d known since my preteen years seemed so chaotic internally. I am glad that I never felt so desperate as to get any job, even one that is kind of line with what I want. I know that I deserve better than a (quite honestly) lower than average salary at a job where the cons outweigh the pros.

3. Procrastination led me to the right path of following my passion and getting a job I would actually like. After I had quit my cushy job last September, I took it easy. Sure, I had an interview per month, which was an improvement from my last unemployment phase. But I became picky. I looked for alternative ways to find work. I networked more. I was open to new things. All of this led me to signing up for the Zero to Network program, and investing in my dreams. It also led me to looking at job postings less often (now I check once a week) and doing more research to learn about the organizations and people who are doing what I want to do. And most recently, I got a part-time job that I feel excited about with an organization and team that is passionate about developing stronger communities.

All of these things were my gut’s way of saying that I wasn’t on the right track, or that it knew where I should be and that I have to take a little more time to understand what was happening. It’s so interesting and comforting to know that a part of you is looking out for you and knows what it’s doing (because nobody here consciously does). And, looking back, I guess I can justify my procrastination in other things.

For example, in university, more than half the time, I would procrastinate on doing my readings, studying, and writing papers. At the time, I simply felt lazy, uninspired, and unmotivated – which were rooted in my fear of failure. That still applies now, but with this positive procrastination in mind, I can’t help but wonder if that was also my gut telling me that I wasn’t meant to take that one (or 10) class(es) in the first place. Which is unfortunate, because that could have saved me a lot of time doing something I had no interest in. But academic regrets are for another day and another post.

The point is that we should all pay closer attention to our emotions and gut reactions. I don’t know how, but they can reveal to us the truth about ourselves in such a way that it’s empowering and transformative. And if we use this knowledge, it can be a powerful tool in helping us live the lives that we want and deserve.

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