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Older and Wiser is Right

It’s time for my New Year resolutions. As in previous years, today is the day I take to think about life: my birthday! This was my ‘Hedonistic Year’ – and I am proud of how well I adhered to my previous resolutions. There was so much fun and self-indulgence that I think I’m all indulged-out.

Looking back at my last year’s resolutions I was shocked to see that I had just scored Concrete Blonde’s “Happy Birthday” LP on eBay – shocked because I just framed it and mounted it on the wall last week. Took me 12 months to do that. That speaks volumes about the extent of how all this ‘hedonism’ easily transitioned into sloth and indolence.

I am a procrastinator. It’s something that always bothered me, an undesirable trait that I just can’t shake. Allowing myself to take a year to put the best things in life above other things allowed this procrastination inclination to develop as far as it ever had. The result was bad – procrastination causes things to be deferred, undone, unfulfilled, which doesn’t motivate or give you a sense of accomplishment. It is not empowering. This didn’t feel so bad because of all the self-indulgence: Feeling depressed? Eat an entire cake! Dissatisfied with the world? Get on a plane and go somewhere interesting! Bored? Buy stuff!

As bad as that may sound, this whole vicious cycle allowed me to learn more about myself than if I had continued to try and solve the procrastination symptoms I had been struggling with for years. I found that procrastination itself is not a problem, but a symptom of a problem: that when I am not being challenged, I settle for mediocre.

Kind of a sad realization at first, but later really exciting because identifying a problem is the best thing that could happen; by definition, a problem is a question raised for solution. Problems have solutions, which means you can solve them. Is that clear enough? I can’t solve procrastination; it’s a symptom, not a problem. That’s why it’s always been frustrating – because I thought it was always a problem. Now I know better. As long as I am challenged, my brain is interested in doing things. If I’m not challenged, I stop trying, and procrastinate.

I can’t explain how wonderful it is to come to this realization – it probably sounds fairly idiotic if that’s not something you experience. In hindsight, a simple explanation makes a lot of sense because you already did all the hard work of trying to understand it in the first place. If you experienced the pains that the problem caused you, you appreciate it that much more.

So, even if I’m queen of obvious today, I am feeling great about what I accomplished in the past year. Not just this pearl of self-discovery, but other things like continuing to work on what I love and now being with the one I love. Yeepie.

As with any malady, after you look at the symptoms and make a diagnosis, it’s time to start treatment. And I’m prescribing myself a big dose of anti-mediocrity. Starting on this gelid November 21st, this will be The Challenge Year. I’ll challenge my brain, my competencies, my capacity, my tolerance and so on. Let’s see if I procrastinate that!

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