Sammy Davis Jr. is reported to have said “You always have two choices: your commitment versus your fear.”
I always heard the dichotomy as
“unhappiness comes from giving up what you want most for what you want now.”
I went through my TODO list this morning, and marked only the absolute top priority ones, the ones that absolutely had to be done, and had deadlines. Then I printed only the ones that must be done within this next week: 51. And of those, 38 of them will probably take me more than 6 hours each. Commitment vs fear? Most vs now? What’re those folks even talking about?
I have a different theory,
…and it goes like this:
We all have, at any given time, a fair sized list of options in front of us. Maybe some of them are bad – that’s life sometimes, but at least there’s usually more than one option available to us, usually even more than one thing on our plate. Even at those times when we really hate all our options: at least we can find more than one, even if one of them is really bad. Sometimes we have lots of great options instead.
And then, as life goes, we choose one.
For the sake of argument, let’s say that this time we chose the very best-est topmost one on the list.
And what you just chose, in choosing this best one, is to not do the other ones.
Choosing the best thing on your list is called…
You’re a procrastinator. You’re a procrastinator because you chose to do something: and in doing that you put off all the other options. Yeah, you chose the very best-est, most-important-est, you-really-should-choose-this-one-est, this-will-really-make-you-happiest-est one on the list: super, and good for you! In choosing to do that instead of all your other options, you put them off. You chose not to do all the other things, and that makes you a procrastinator.
Let’s call that “good” procrastination. Of course there’s such a thing as bad procrastination also. What makes the difference? Easy: are you choosing what you want most? are you choosing your commitment? And by the way: What’s Sammy mean by “commitment” anyway?
Reset the Question:
Let’s go back to our list of options. I used some un-English words up there, like “best-est,” to describe something that is actually a little hard. It’s nice to say that it’s easy to prioritize our list, that it’s easy to know what goes on top – but sometimes it’s just plain really tough. In deciding, sometimes it’s easier to approach it from the other side: if I procrastinate this option, will it be good procrastination, or bad procrastination?
And I posit that there’s only one person that can answer that one: You.
What’s Sammy’s “commitment” about? It’s about you. Bad procrastination has another definition: it’s when you’re not being true (c.f. here, here, here, etc.).
I challenge you to start with 10 minutes. Be true for 10 minutes: procrastinate everything else on your list. If you like the results, try it for an hour – work your way up. If you’re like me, sometimes even 10 minutes can be a little uncomfortable.
And that, my friend, is what Sammy called “fear.”
Procrastinate the Fear.