“Procrastination is one of the most common and deadliest of diseases and its toll on success and happiness is heavy.” ~Wayne Gretzky
In my first post in this series, I spoke of the need to get comfortable with the trade-offs of life, that you don’t need to do everything just because it found itself somewhere on a to-do list.
In my second in the series, I spoke of the importance of finding what it is that most inspires you. It’s not enough to remove the distractions from to-do lists, we need to discover our own burning WHY, the reason and passion behind what we do.
Mundane is What Mundane Does
But what about those mundane tasks we find ourselves habitually avoiding? They are, after all, those things most likely to get procrastinated day after day until they become avalanches of urgency that bury our passions and suffocate our dreams under the rubble of every-day living.
The good news is that not everything has to align with your Passion to get passionate about it. There is a magic trick that can change the most mundane task into a passionate expression of deep meaning.
Discovering the Inherent WHY
There are two ways to find the passionate WHY that smashes through the walls of procrastination. One is to do that which answers your internal WHY. When the reason you’re pursuing a goal burns so hot inside that you can’t imagine not pursuing it, there will be an internal motivation that pushes and pulls you over the peaks of the most challenging mountains of difficulty.
The other, however, is the magic of discovering the inherent WHY.
Stripped to the Bear Bones
When we’re mindlessly doing what has to be done, it’s easy to start thinking that we’re simply performing that particular task. When we’re washing dishes or crunching numbers at the office, for instance, it can seem as though those tasks are all we’re doing.
But it’s just not true and was never the case. There is always something more noble, more generous, a blessing to others, an act of service at the core of what we do. Find that deeper meaning and the motivation to do it will magically rise to the occasion.
It’s really just a matter of seeing past the illusion of the apparent. Dishes are just dishes, after all … right? Well, no. They’re not.
How to See the Normally Unseen
When confronted with a distasteful and usually-procrastinated task, start by simply reducing your task to its most essential service. Ask yourself questions like these:
• “What am I fundamentally doing?”
• “What am I providing?”
• “At the core of what I do, what service am I rendering?”
• “How is this helping?”
• “Who is it helping?”
• “How are their lives improved?”
Such question should help you find the center of the task you are currently struggling to complete.
When Dishes are no longer Dishes
When you are sweating over the hot water steaming up from the sink, remember that you are not simply washing dishes. You never were. You are fiercely protecting your family against a ghastly attack of an invisible army ruthlessly engaged in a campaign of germ warfare against your loved ones.
You are also lovingly offering them the joys of sitting down together for the next meal, furnished with the tools of that memory-building, family-bonding opportunity.
When Cubicle Walls become Noble Endeavors
Have you ever found yourself sitting at your desk, mindlessly drooling as you dream of escaping cubicle hell? Has number crunching been a soul-sucking experience, making you feel like what you do adds nothing to anyone’s life?
Well, the good news is that you are not simply crunching numbers. You are investing in your company’s ability to provide the goods and services it offers real people in need, or who feel their lives would be improved or simplified or somehow enhanced by your company’s product.
Beyond that, you are helping a company remain viable, employing and paying mothers and fathers and others trying to make something of their lives, providing them with the means to pay for home, food, vacations, piano lessons, braces, life.
You are also providing the data necessary for the company to fulfill its mission, meet its obligations and its customers’ needs, to rise to its potential, create value for real-life people living lives that intersect directly or indirectly with yours and what you do every day of the work-week.
The Power of Perspective
Do you see the genius here? Do you feel the power in it? By sensing the deeper meaning to seemingly trivial and mundane tasks, you imbue them with nobility and purpose. They become something much more than the mechanics required to perform them.
They become purposeful expressions of morally meaningful activities that now have the power to inspire and motivate us to action. With a simple shift in perspective, the boring becomes interesting, the pointless becomes meaningful and procrastination becomes motivation to finally finish what you’ve started.
And if you’re not careful, things like doing dishes just may start to put a smile on your face as you roll up your sleeves for yet another vicious battle against a germy foe.