Why We Procrastinate
There’s a Chinese Proverb you’re probably familiar with. It says the best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago… The second best time is today.
A tree we planted twenty years ago would be mature and mostly maintenance free. Had we done the work of planting then, we could be relaxing in its shade and indulging in its fruit now. And this is precisely why we procrastinate.
Next to perfectionism, it’s the biggest reason we don’t create our art, start that important project, or pursue our dreams. We’d rather beat ourselves up for not starting sooner. Then we dwell on the what-could-have-been and grieve about all the lost potential. We spend too much time thinking about what we should have done instead of thinking about what we can do today.
Reality should remind us it’s impossible to turn back the clock, while wisdom teaches us the ultimate form of procrastination is spending our time fretting and complaining about what we should have done yesterday.
Today, I’m planting a tree I should have planted years ago. It’s a small one, nothing grand now, but, Lord willing, in twenty years I hope it will be the size of one of those venerable cottonwoods that grow along the river and fill the air with fluffy white pollen in the springtime.
What tree should you have planted twenty years ago? What’s stopping you from planting that tree today?
Share your story in the comments.
About Scott Postma
Scott lives in North Idaho collecting more books than he'll ever read in a lifetime. He helps people cultivate their capacity to perceive and appreciate the good, the true, and the beautiful by sharing rich insights into the arts and humanities, meaningful perspective on faith and culture, and valuable tips on writing and teaching. You can subscribe to the tribe and follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus.