I’ve realized I spend a lot of time daydreaming of having things organized. Of when all my writings are in a central place and backed up to several locations. When all my photos are organized. When my digital presence is my own - hand-designed, and created from scratch. When I can automate publishing to that site, and it’s up to date and easy to use. When my photos are online to share with friends and family on a site of my own making that is not a social media service; because I want to own my own shit. When all these things are in ship shape and I’ve figured it all out.
But that end state would take an incredible amount of work to achieve. If it were even possible to create in the way that I dream. I never seem to make enough progress toward that end state. I’ve noticed a few reasons why.
It’s easier to daydream my way through life instead of accomplish things in actuality. The daydream of perfection is addictive. It feels like I’m doing something worthwhile. That I’m preparing for work, and that’s work on its own. Dreaming of what I’ll do and the perfect result is a form of endless preparing which itself is a form of procrastination. I’m only delaying progress because I fear I don’t know enough and I won’t be perfect.
Further, my interest in a particular goal only seems to hold for a short while. This is the result of dreaming of some nebulous goal rather than a defined task. My desire to make progress toward an indefinite end peters out before that enormous dream is accomplished.
An antidote to this would be defining smaller, realistic goals. Aiming for things that could be achieved in a shorter time window, while my interest is held. Working toward something I could take pride in and feel accomplishment for.
This task of creating small goals is easy to overlook with the luster of the pipedream fresh in mind. But the small will help me make progress toward the large. It wouldn’t even take as long to identify the small tasks as I’d first fear. Breaking vague goals into well-defined tasks may make the difference between dreamer and do-er.
I also tell myself that in having so many goals it becomes difficult to make progress on any one of them, because I get distracted by the others. I spend more time debating what to work on than I do completing anything. With that uncertainty, it becomes easy to entertain myself with trivial distractions.
Deciding what’s most important is another procrastinatory preparation. It’s a way to justify my inaction and rationalize my procrastination. It pushes the real, ugly, imperfect work out to a time when I imagine I’ll do it perfectly. Sadly, that time never arrives, and so I never make headway. To make progress, I must start now. Not wait until a delusional time. If all my goals are truly worthwhile, then I should pick any thing and do it. End the endless debating and accomplish a thing.
Here it would be prudent to revisit old dreams to see if they are goals I still want to accomplish or ideas I hold on to out of nostalgic guilt to my former self. A guilt-driven life is not worth living.
Fearing the imperfect is a recurring theme. It’s easy to imagine perfection, but nothing once brought to life will be perfect or complete. Perfect isn’t the point. The point is to experience the work, to finish something well-enough, and to have it exist. This will free up my mind for other, worthwhile, large, ultimately-imperfect goals. If I make iterative progress with small tasks toward a larger goal, I’ll end up with a better output than if I try to birth it to perfection.
It’s all to easy to think that before publishing something I have to spend loads of time on the topic; fleshing it out, revising, editing, making it sound serious and life-changing. If I can’t release it until it’s pristine, I better wait until later when I can make it so. This only adds more work for myself. Entirely self-imposed work. It’s a barrier to completing a thing. Another seed for procrastination.
The point is not to have the perfect writing, but to have something written. Not all subjects deserve hours of effort. There are gradations. It’s freeing to notice that some things can be written and published without the burden of a lengthy editing process.
I also have this vision of me having figure out some massive shit for myself which I should turn into readable form for my forgetful, future self. As well as others so that they might also share in the figured-out-edness. Having figured shit out is a dream state, not reality. Working through thoughts in written form is a treat itself. Inspiring a revelation in someone else is unlikely and better considered not-the-point.
I feel I’ve had some of these thoughts before, but it’s easy to fall into old habits. To prepare and delay instead of focus on a small task. Reminders are helpful.
So my task for today is to type up this rambling, meandering piece, publish it to my imperfect blog, and then have the mental capacity freed up to approach one of my other interests with a clear mind and a focused attention for a small, but not-insignficant, time.
Here’s to tangible, imperfect progress over fanciful, perfect procrastination.