Procrastination- Termite of Success

There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way and not starting.       -Gautam Buddha
 
Do you put things off until tomorrow? Do you get sidetracked from your goal by involving in many low priorities tasks? Do you wait for the perfect time to do things and then miss opportunities? Do you avoid dealing with difficult issues with the hope that they will go away? Do you ignore minor problems until they turn into full blown predicaments that demand your immediate attention? If all or any of the answer is ‘yes’ then you are suffering from a serious ailment called procrastination.
 
Termites are small insects often referred as white ants. They live inside wood and eat it from inside. From outside, the wood looks healthy, okay and normal but from inside due to eating of termites become hollow and thus useless and of no practical importance of any kind. A huge tree could be fall by a little blow or its own weight owing to its hollowness from inside as a result of termite activities. The problem of termite is considered very seriously in many countries of the world that no insurance is guaranteed to those houses which are found to be infected by termites.
 
Procrastination may be considered as termite of success. Like termite, the habit of procrastination eats away the personality of a person from inside. He may look normal and confident in appearance but from inside he is broken and could be blown away by little push of life.
 
A bollywood blockbuster ‘Tare zameen par’ literally mean ‘Stars on the earth’ is a story of child who is suffering from a learning disorder called dyslexia in which one is having difficulty in learning to read fluently and with accurate comprehension despite normal intelligence. The child in the movie conceals his inability of reading and writing properly into his naughtiness. Others think of him as mischievous and wicked but he is helpless and do not want to reveal his incompetence to become a subject of prank among others. He found his self respect in being called as naughty but do not to become a center of pity and sympathy in society. The problem is same with procrastinators. Procrastination appears as laziness, the habit of resting before one gets tired but underlying problems may be different and even serious.
 
Procrastination is not mere laziness but a mask behind which deeply rooted serious threats of success are hiding. The underlying problems may be inadequate purpose, lack of goal or motivation, shortage of planning, lack of physical or mental strength to execute plans, fear of criticism or rejection, fear of committing mistakes or taking risks etc. Sometimes lack of concentration also fans procrastination. Arrange a separate working place, make its environment work friendly and do not let others to enter it and disturb its interior harmony.
 
Write down your goal and purpose for achieving the goal. Try to give a pictorial representation either by self drawing or cutting pictures from somewhere else and pasting on paper. Daily review it at least twice a day; one before sleeping and another just after awaking in the morning. If possible, try to visualize it on mind’s screen at junction of eyebrows and nose. If you are seeing it in dream while sleeping is a good sign.
 
Make a schedule of your daily work and include activities of morning walk and listening music in daily routine.
 
There was once a problem with Indian Railways. Indian Railways is the world’s ninth largest commercial  employer and one of the world’s largest railway networks comprising 115,000 km of track over a route of 65,000 km and 7,500 stations. The problem was untimely running of trains. This created a situation of panic over the nation. Lots of complex strategies were discussed over the issue but solution came in the form of simple idea; an idea of extending duration of running time between the stations. If you are not able to finish your assigned work in the given time then reschedule time span with requisite extension. This will boost a new energy and confidence in your bloodstream.
 
Prepare a hierarchical list of procrastination activities based on your extent of resistance. Start with lower level in the list having less resistance to activity. Action is the only antidote to procrastination. Ralph Waldo Emerson said “A man is hero not because he is braver than anyone else but because he is brave for ten minutes longer.” Just do it when you feel procrastination’s cloud over your head. In the words of Pablo Picasso “Action is the foundational key to all successes.” After successful completion of task, reward yourself. Reward may be anything; it may be collection of pebbles for each completion. It is a symbolic activity to reassure you that you have done this and could do anything else. By seeing your collection and increasing numbers of pebbles in it infuse a new enthusiasm in you.
 
Fear is nothing but indecision and postponement. Indecision crystallizes into doubt; the two blend and become fear. On the other hand, a firm decision melts fear and its execution in form of action evaporates away the fear.
 
The art of a young cartoonist was stated as rubbish and rejected by many cartoon editors. He was Walt Disney whose concept of Mickey Mouse was widely acclaimed and even considered as masterpiece. J. K. Rowling, author of Harry Potter, was rejected by 25 publishers. So procrastination directed by fear of criticism or rejection is a lame excuse for not to proceed a action.
 
Mistakes are footsteps of learning. The most important fact about mistakes is that many important discoveries and successes came about as a result of so called mistake. Charles Goodyear, during an experiment in 1839, accidentally spilled a mixture of sulphur rubber on to a hot stove. The result of this smelly-smoky was vulcanized rubber and the birth of a billion dollar industry. The group of effective medicines on bacterial infection called antibiotics was also discovered as accidental mistake.
 
The greatest risk ever mentioned in history is the risk of not taking any risk and if you are prepare to take that risk then you are capable of taking any risk.
 
Just do it! First you make your habits; then your habits make you.    -Lucas Remmerswaal
 
 
 

Addiction- Lethal Allele of Habit

Habit, if not resisted, soon becomes necessity.  -St. Augustine 

It is the irony of reality that it gives as well as take at the same time but appears as giving at macroscopic level, hence, referred as illusion. As soon as we are born, our death is certain. But it rests with us to acknowledge ourselves as dead whether at the time of birth or death. Gautam Buddha, founder of Buddhism, while roaming for the first time out of his palace, saw a corpse and thought himself as dead and felt a strong urge to liberate from twin of birth and death. But that story some other day. 

Habit is no different in this case, it is accompanied by its lethal allele, addiction. Habit is very essential for learning, in fact, learning itself is habitual. But sometimes habit, mixed with a series of events or thoughts as a result of some emotion into prominence that bring change in behavior pattern, mutate to its lethal allele, addiction, which is a state of being enslaved to habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit forming to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.
 
Addiction is different in its nature from habit and must be fought differently. It cannot be defeated by assertion of will only because its motive force derives from some underlying need which exists independent of the practice. The addiction is itself aggravating the need, and in this sense is not merely a symptom of the need but for the most part, other practices or life experiences are generating the need. The sufferer from addiction is choosing his practice as a palliative for his pain or discomfort.
 
Practices that become addictive are not always newly adopted ones. The practice may be an occasional activity of the past, like playing cards, which suddenly takes on consuming importance because it becomes the most effective way that mind finds to reduce some intense craving. The habitual cigarette smoker who suddenly develops personal problems may, by using smoking to calm himself, convert the habit into a addiction. Now when he tries to stop, he will become much more anxious than if he had tried earlier, and continued abstinence may not reduce anxiety. He may find it impossible to subdue his urge without replacing smoking by some other activity and thereby reducing his underlying need. We may describe addictive behavior as the attempt by the mind of the sufferer to solve some underlying problem, one perhaps intensified by the activity, but one that owes mainly to difficulties elsewhere in the mind and seldom identified by the sufferer.
 
Two characteristics apart from the strength of the impulse may make a practice difficult to stop. The first is insignificance. Habits difficult to identify may be surprisingly hard to break such as habits like gesticulating etc. The second kind of habitual practice which is difficult to control is the kind that when carried out in moderation is serviceable or necessary such as habit of overeating. 
 
In addition, when we resist our impulse, we nearly always feel incomplete at first. The person who tries not to gesticulate may suddenly feel that his sweeps of the hand are eloquent and that what he is saying cannot be conveyed without the use of his hands.
 
Any strong psychological need may underlie a addictive practice, and any practice may be addictive. Like all palliatives, addictive practices tend to obscure from us the needs that caused us to use them, and lull us into underestimating the urgency of those needs. With nearly every addiction there comes some reduction in the person’s ability to enjoy the wide spectrum of experiences once pleasurable to him. When a craving becomes intense, it tends to become highly specific; other satisfaction will not do. The sufferer from any addiction of long standing, if he stops his practice before carefully resurrecting other sources of gratification, undergoes a “withdrawal reaction” like that which alcoholics report.
 
Habit is habit, not to be flung out of the window by any man, but coaxed downstairs a step at a time.    -Mark Twain
 
For sake of simplicity and not making this clumsy, I’ll be discussing how to combat addiction in my next article.

Learning is habitual

Winning is not a sometime thing; it’s an all time thing. You don’t win once in a while, you don’t do things right once in a while, you do them right all the time. Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.    – Vince Lombardi
 
Habit is an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary. It is essential for learning. Learning cannot be completed without rehearsing again and again until it is completely absorbed in the brain or more precisely in the nervous system. The word ‘habit’ is derived from Latin word ‘habitus’ meaning ‘retained’. If we further go deep in the history almost at the beginning of the ancient civilizations, we found a word ‘habeō’ meaning ‘to grab’ in the Proto Indo-European language which is thought to be the mother of many Indian and European Languages. As it is clear from the etymology of the word ‘habit’ that it has to do something with learning and exactly how it helps learning can be understood from functioning of the nervous system.
 
The nervous system consists merely of mechanism for the reception & transmission of incoming messages and their transformation into outgoing messages which produce movement. The messages trail in the form of nervous current; leaving impressions on the pathway it traverses which once made can be retained and thereafter tends to seek the same pathway and to end in the same movement when same incoming message received. Movements may be started by the stimulation of a sense organ or by a thought. Howsoever it starts, seeks a way out, and prefers pathways already traversed. Hence we are bound to have habits.
 
Everything that enters nervous system produces some modification within it. It is derived from the factor of modifiability that with each succeeding repetition, the tasks become easier or learning becomes better because the path becomes worn smoothly and the nervous current seek it own accord, in other words, each act and each thought tends to become habitualized . We are bundle of habits and they manifest themselves in two ways as habit of action and habit of thoughts. Our mind is arranged in such habitual patterns that a large part of what we do and think during the course of twenty four hours is habitual.
 
Habit answers the mechanism behind learning which is basically involuntary in nature once the pathway is designed but leaves out option with us to choose which one to develop.
 
To ensure beneficial learning and cultivation of useful habits we must aware about incoming and outgoing messages and act as guard to allow only positive things to enter. We must go slowly at first to register the correct impression, so that it triggers the required outcome in the form of desired habits. It takes 21 days to concrete the neural pathway dig out by any stimulation. So, it is necessary to practice the activity at exact time continuously without any exception for at least 21 days because each time exception deepens the old pathway to boost the previous result. Reward yourself on each successive days and in case an exception occurs punish yourself. Don’t fight with negative thoughts, just substitute it with positive one, using affirmative statements only, because our mind could not hold two thoughts at a time.
 
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not a act, but a habit.    -Aristotle
 
Next I’ll be discussing about lethal effect of habit: addiction and the procedure to overcome it.