“Don’t put off for tomorrow what you can do today because if you enjoy it today, you can do it again tomorrow.” ~ James A. Michener
The definition of procrastination is “to put off intentionally the doing of something that should be done.” Generally, we think of procrastinating as avoiding unpleasant tasks, but do you ever find yourself putting off doing things you honestly enjoy?
If there is one thing living through a global pandemic has taught me over the last year, it’s that you have to take joy where you can find it, as often as you can find it.
Why, then, do we avoid taking the reins and diving into the fun stuff?
I recently decided to revisit some of the old hobbies I used to enjoy regularly. I had wanted to dive back into them for a while now, but I always found myself making excuses for why I needed to postpone these ventures. I had the desire to play my guitar, for instance, but I would tell myself I was too tired or not feeling inspired enough. Maybe tomorrow, I would frequently tell myself.
But guess what? If you insist on maintaining that mentality, then tomorrow will never come!
I’ve finally decided enough is enough. My goal this year is to get back to pursuing the things I enjoy regularly. If I can’t play my guitar every day, I can at least pick it up once a week. I set aside a dedicated “puzzle time” each day to work on completing the massive pile of jigsaw puzzles I’ve been storing in my basement for years. I’m also recommitting to doing my exercises that my chiropractor gave me to help with my back pain.
No more excuses!
I’ve learned that committing to working on something every day is quite motivating, especially when the activity is something you enjoy. I’ve also discovered that you tend to forget just how much you love something until you pick it back up again. Every time I return to a hobby I’ve laid aside for a while (whether it be playing my guitar or writing more articles), I kick myself for giving it up in the first place when it clearly brings me so much joy.
An unexpected bonus of committing to doing things you love is the positive impact on your mental health. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has been mentally struggling over the last year. Dealing with the pandemic has been extremely stressful, and my anxiety has gotten worse as a result.
Here’s my advice: stop endlessly doom-scrolling! Get offline and read a book. Go for a walk and enjoy the local wildlife. Or lose yourself in a video game. Grab on to any little thing that brings you joy. Because the second you do, you will likely notice an improvement in your stress levels, if nothing else.
Spending all of your time immersed in negativity is not healthy for your mental state of being. I took way too long to learn this lesson, but now that it has sunk in, I don’t want to backslide. It’s all about finding the right balance — staying connected with the world and up to date with current events, but not being entirely consumed by them.
I’m finally learning to navigate that line.
I think we tend to avoid some things even though we love them because they are challenging to master. Take guitar, for instance. I love playing. But I’ve been slowly trying to teach myself how to play for several years now. I have this endless cycle where I pick it up and get super motivated to learn for a while, then I get frustrated, I plateau, and I quit playing entirely for an even more extended period. Playing the guitar well is difficult.
But how do I ever expect to improve unless I stick with it and keep going?
The same rings true of any pursuits — you can never hope to master something unless you put in the time and effort. I’m trying to remind myself of that more often.
We are all leading busy lives these days. Downtime can be rare — therefore, we should use it wisely. Find the things that bring you joy, the things you love, the things you feel passionate about, and hold onto them as tightly as possible. Life is too short to waste time focusing on the things that make us miserable. Try to shift your focus to the positive things instead. I guarantee you will be better off in the long run.