3 Ways Perfectionism is the Ultimate Procrastination

I’ve come across several people in my life who have stopped themselves from finishing a project, or even getting started in the first place, because they believed in some perfectionist ideal on how the process should be—instead of simply letting the process be what it is.

The process of creativity is often a long, messy, and emotionally enduring endeavour. It is almost never a straightforward process, rather a bumpy road with lots of twists and turns. Although the inherent challenges that come with creativity can make you anxious about the road ahead, it is actually within this struggle where our greatest work resides.

Resistance is a natural part of the process, and often times, the more resistance you have toward something, the more important it actually is. Resistance is your ego’s way of trying to preserve itself by bringing your self-esteem down, and it is your duty as a creator to squash your ego in its wake and get to work anyway.

As a life long procrastinator, I am no stranger to this process, and am still a victim to it when I’m not mentally prepared enough for it, but nonetheless I hope you find what I share today to be helpful in your own journey.

So without further adieu, here are the 3 Ways Perfectionism is the Ultimate Procrastination:

  1. Not feeling competent enough.
  2. Not feeling original enough.
  3. Not feeling motivated enough.

Practice Makes Progress

If you don’t feel confident to get started on a project, it might mean that you’re lacking a few fundamental skills of the trade to even put a dent into that said project. But do not fret because there is a lot of joy and meaning to be found in learning and practicing new skills. As you learn new things, you will naturally feel excited to employ these new skills and techniques to whatever you’re working on.

I know in my experience, whenever I’ve learned a new guitar or piano chord, a writing concept, or a new music production technique, I’ve always felt the need to experiment with that new skill in my latest project in any given field. It didn’t matter whether I employed the new skill in small doses, in excess, or scrapped it from the final project entirely. What mattered was that I gave myself the freedom to experiment with something new and broaden my skillset.

A lot of people feel like they’re not good enough to start on anything because of this lack of self confidence. And since we often equate competence with confidence, that lack of competence holds us back. I’ve heard the same excuse a thousand times by now:

“I can’t write a song/write a book/make a painting, I’m not creative enough.”

It’s like saying, “I can’t do yoga, I’m not flexible enough.”

Well, here’s the kicker: you become flexible by doing yoga. Likewise with anything creative, you stretch out your creativity at a certain artform the more you engage it. Who cares if you don’t know how song or plot structures work or how to mix colours properly?

You learn by experimenting and actively choosing things to learn either through a class on or offline, a teacher or mentor, and/or by observing the works of art that inspire you and comparing your work to theirs in a reasonable and non-self-esteem-crushing kind of way. The only important thing to note is that you don’t keep yourself stuck in training mode because you’re too afraid to actually create something. Study your techniques all you want, but actually put them to use at some point or that can become another side of this same coin of lacking competence.

Nothing and Everything is Original

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again; do not be overly concerned with being original. It’s a huge waste of time and energy, and a surefire way of crushing your own morale. This is another thing a lot of potential creators often contend with. They want to be above the crowd by way of originality because they have it in their heads that they must be this wonderfully unique snowflake, or there is no point of creating anything because they’ll just be making more of the same to put into the stratosphere.

Stop this kind of thinking NOW!

Think about this instead:

There are only 7 plots in fiction.

There are only 7 notes in a scale.

There are only 7 colours in a rainbow.

Nothing you create will ever be entirely original because you’re already using established artforms such as fiction, music, or art. Just because there are only seven plots in fiction, doesn’t mean you can’t write the story your way. Just because there are only seven notes in a scale, doesn’t mean you can’t rearrange those notes your way. Just because there are only 7 colours in a rainbow, doesn’t mean you can’t mix and match those colours your way.

Most of us want to think outside of the box, but we need to know what’s in that box in order to know what we’re straying away from in the first place, and to do so with moderation that serves our work. Otherwise it can come across as, or actually become, trying too hard to stand out instead of genuinely trying to expressing ourselves.

Maybe your novel can have a mix of more than just one of those 7 plots in fiction. Maybe your song can include a chromatic note or two that isn’t in the 7 notes of its original scale. Maybe your painting can blend those 7 colours in a varying degrees to achieve different hues of colours you didn’t think possible. But the most important thing is to use these lucky 7 things to your advantage, rather than something you actively work against.

Originality, then, isn’t about coming up with something entirely new, rather taking pre-existing matter and mixing and matching different elements into something new by design of how you’ve personally conveyed it. If your goal is to be original, you risk trying too hard to be eccentric and esoteric to the point of drawing too much attention to how weird and different your artwork is instead of actually having something useful to say with it.

“Originality comes from genuine self expression, not concerted effort.” – Marlon from Your Write to Live

Motivation is Random, Discipline is Free Will Power

As someone with ADHD, I have often fallen under the seductive spell of hyper-focus whenever I’ve come up with a new idea or discovered a new hobby. I go at it full force, basking in its novelty with absolute certainty that I will do this forever, until I stop dead in my tracks because I’ve burnt myself out from going too hard at something instead of pacing myself accordingly.

Then I spend weeks, sometimes months, wondering if I’ll ever have the motivation to start writing another song or editing a new video, writing a novel etc.

A lot of people say that they will only create something when they feel motivated and will not force themselves to do it otherwise, and for people who have created some great volumes of work that have only come from allowing their muse to motivate them by her own accord, that’s all well and good.

But for those who haven’t even completed or started a project, this kind of thinking is detrimental to creativity and can often be an excuse for never creating to begin with.

It pains me to talk with people who contend with all of these ways in which procrastination manifests as perfectionism, but when it comes to motivation I probably relate to it the most because it’s the one and only demon on this list that I’ve yet to conquer. But basically you really don’t want to be waiting around for those times you feel motivated enough to create because you’ll either be waiting for a long time—which will then result in small bursts of creativity for a short amount of time before you spend another several weeks, months, maybe even years wondering if it’ll ever happen again—or you’ll be waiting forever.

The decision to create needs to come from you and you alone.

You cannot rely on random happenstance to get you there. If you start feeling bad for not having worked on your creativity for a long time, that anxiety around it is actually unspent energy that could easily be going into your project as opposed to crushing your own self-esteem with the self imposed guilt trip. What you want to do is create healthy habits that prime you to start working, even on your most resistant days, all to the point of turning your routine into a ritual.

You want to get to the point where you can’t not create something on most, if not all days. It’s something you need to get done or the day does not feel complete otherwise. Even if you don’t turn out your best work for several days straight, at least you’ve gotten the crappy ideas out of the way so that when you get back into the swing of things, you’re at least glad that you’ve committed to your practice. That is how you know you’ve turned a habit into a ritual.

While there is the danger of turning your ritual into a superstition where you think, “I gotta have my large coffee and cookie every morning or I can’t create anything!” Having some kind of routine in place to at least increase your chances of getting something is better than having low to no chance in hell that you create anything at all.

We’ll get into overwork and burnout in a future post, but for now, let’s simmer in the idea that maybe we aren’t working enough to ensure we get our creative needs met. And I don’t know about you, but I get pretty depressed if I’m not creating at least one or two things on nearly daily basis, and I’m starting to realize just how much of that depression is a lot of emotionality that is being left unexpressed that can be transmuted into writing fiction, producing music, or even the simple act of journaling.

It’s actually through journaling before almost every writing session where I tackle my demons and empty out my mind to make space for creative ideas. I need to check in with myself and see how I’m feeling about my life and the work laid out ahead of me, otherwise these unchecked doubts will creep up in any given writing session. Only then I’ll feel like I’m strong and smart enough to get on with the project.

Feeling and Being Enough

That’s what this entire post comes down to in a nutshell: feeling enough.

Creative people are notorious for not feeling or being enough and that’s why a lot of us over or under perform where we can be finding a happy and healthy medium between the two. Just notice that whenever you encounter any self doubt, imposter syndrome, or resistance, it’s all pent up energy that is being left unexpressed, and you need an outlet for it.

Personally for me, creating a slew of work doesn’t mean I will guarantee a sense of meaning and contentedness in my life, but it sure as hell increases the probability for them, provided that I am coming at it from a place of stillness. A place where I’m not using my creativity to avoid uncomfortable thoughts and feelings about my life, rather taking them head on with confidence that I will get through it all no matter how difficult it all is.

It’s a tough balancing act.

You want to create because you have something in you to express, and you have to fight your ego every step of the way as to not do it for the wrong reasons like fame, fortune, or fear. Like the fear of not feeling or being enough. Feeling and being enough starts with you right here, right now in making the decision to take your creativity into your own hands, not the whims of fate. And definitely in not submitting to the whims of our egos that hold us back in making us believe we are not good or original enough. That’s not what’s important.

What’s important is giving ourselves the permission to express ourselves as that is Your Write to Live.

Therapeutic Journaling Part 7: Pre and Post Meditation

As I mentioned in Part 5 of this blog series, I have learned to manage some of my ADHD symptoms through journaling. In addition to that, I also like to meditate before and after I do any kind of writing, whether it’s journaling or creative writing.

In today’s Meaningful Monday post we will explore what meditation is, how you do it, and why you should add it to your writing routine.

What is Meditation and How Do I Do It?

Meditation is a formal practice of mindfulness. Where meditation requires you to sit or lay still, mindfulness can be practiced in motion like when you’re doing yoga, going for a walk, or even cooking a meal. It’s the practice of being aware of your thoughts and either accepting them as they pass you by, without judgement or attachment, or by trying to keep your mind clear of thoughts entirely especially when you need to focus on something.

Meditation is mindfulness to the max where you set a certain amount of time to simply sit, breathe, and observe your mind. For each inhale and exhale, you bring your mental focus more and more toward the flow of your breath and recognizing all the sensations that are occurring in your body, as well as becoming aware of the thoughts passing through your mind.

Once again, without judgement or attachment to your thoughts. Just let them be.

A common misconception about meditation is that you are supposed to sit still and have an empty mind, which can be achieved and quite liberating, but you cannot expect yourself to do that the first time. Let alone the first 100 times because meditation is actually difficult to do if your mind races like mine. ADHD or not.

Because of this, people think that they’re “no good” at it and will just fail because of how much they think, but that’s the point! To get some control of your mind, you need to let it do its thing while you observe from a bit of a bird’s eye view rather than being honed in on ground level. Let your thoughts pass like the wind, and not that gaseous kind of wind, but an actual gust of wind.

Why Should I Meditate Before Journaling?

As I’ve mentioned before, it’s preferable that you handwrite your journals so that it forces your mind to slow down, focus on one pattern of thought, and create some sense of order of the chaos that may be occurring in your mind. While putting your thoughts down on paper is one good way to slow your mind down and free up your mental real estate for better thoughts, meditation is the perfect aid to it.

Meditating allows you to slow your mind down even more, especially if you’ve gotten good at focusing on your breath. You should be inhaling slowly until you ca no longer inhale any further, and then exhale slowly until you can no longer exhale any further. You might notice that your breath is shallow throughout the day and this lack of oxygen to your brain is what causes it to think anxious thoughts. Without a proper air supply, your brain’s ability to breathe is obstructed.

Meditation will help you lift as many obstructions as possible.

As you meditate before you journal, what you can do is start setting intentions for what you want to write about. Think about the order in which you’ll convey your thoughts, what kind of entry you’ll be writing, and what the purpose of that entry will be. Maybe you want to gain some insights on how to resolve a relational conflict, work out the pros and cons of life decisions you need to make, or maybe you just want to make sure you get the most of your writing time.

You are definitely free to sit down and write whatever comes to your mind (which is all writing anyway, fundamentally), but for journaling in particular, it’s good to construct a game plan of what you will be writing about it in particular. This will allow you to increase the chances of making sure most, if not all, you write ends up being beneficial for you at the end of the session.

I Already Meditated Before Journaling, Why Should I Do it Again Afterward?

It’s important to also meditate after journaling because putting an abrupt stop to your self reflection might make you forget all the lessons you just taught yourself within your writing practice. If you drive a manual transmission car, it’s the difference between stalling in a parking spot vs slowly shifting gears down and turning off the car properly.

Meditating after journaling will help you ease out of that mindful mode you might find yourself, especially when whatever you’re writing happens to grip all your attention and you allow your mind to truly spiral toward every conceivable thought and feeling you happen to recognize in yourself during that session. For some, myself most especially included, journaling can be a very intense process where it brings up a lot of discomfort, and tackling all that discomfort by bleeding it out of the pen can leave you mentally and emotionally wiped.

Sometimes even physically.

All the more reason to meditate because you might feel a sense of adrenaline reaching certain insights about yourself, and you need to breathe and contain that adrenaline so it can be expended in a healthy way afterward. Plus, meditating after journaling can literally allow you to meditate on everything you just learned about yourself so your mind makes the distinction between what you took out of it and what you’re putting into it in return.

Catch you all in the following parts of Therapeutic Journaling!

5 Easy Steps Toward a Writing Routine

There is no shortage of articles out there that detail the routines of famous and successful writers. These masters of their craft do not wait for inspiration to strike them, rather they approach writing like a habit by having a solid routine that primes them for the moment of truth: the moment where pen needs to touch paper and the thoughts need to flow.

You, too, can also reach a level of mastery with your craft with the Five Easy Steps Toward a Writing Routine I will share with you today. Each of these steps are basic frameworks that anybody can do, but the details are completely up to you. There is no one size fits all routine since everybody works differently, so take the following tips as a template rather than a step by step manual.

By the end of this blog post, you have had gathered ideas as to what things you can do to prime yourself for every writing session so that you can write daily or to whatever level of consistency you desire. The bottom line here is to no longer rely on those random flashes of inspiration in order to write, and instead develop the discipline to transform your writing into a consistently conscious decision.

1. Exercise

As I’ve mentioned in Productive Procrastination, not writing can actually help your unconscious mind conjure up some ideas for you in the background while you focus your consciousness something else entirely. Which is why writers often report coming up with their best ideas in the shower, during a car ride, or even right before they are about to fall asleep.

To take that a whole step further, you should also find and develop an exercise routine to incorporate into your daily life. Not only will it help you live a healthier life, but to tie it into writing, exercise is important for us writers because it gets us out of our heads and into our bodies.

A lot of us spend a tremendous amount of time thinking and a lot of that can actually constrain us from expressing ourselves to the best of our ability because our brains can get overworked, and end up needing some time to rest and recharge. And what better way to recharge than to increase the blood flow back into your brain?

On top of that, being a writer requires you do a whole lot of sitting around, so it’s not a bad idea to get your limbs stretched out a bit as to not feel all cramped and cooped up in your chair after long sessions of writing.

I personally like to do yoga first thing in the morning because if I’m gonna be spending a lot of time sitting down, I wouldn’t want to develop a hunch back and crushed hips, so I opt for hip opening poses and other stretches that allow my spine a wide range of motion beyond being hunched over my desk. I also like to go out for walks while listening to music and do a mish mash of thinking about the next thing to write, and then focusing on the music to let my unconscious figure out the rest as I continue my walk.

But whatever you choose to do is completely up to you. Maybe you prefer to do some running, jump rope, or weight lifting etc. Whatever it is, make sure it’s manageable for your physique and that you give yourself a reasonable amount of reps or amount of time to exercise that you can do on a daily basis. You want to challenge yourself physically enough to get your heart rate up, but not so much that it also tires you out, thus rendering your unable to write at all.

Bottom line is that you don’t want your blood vessels and and muscles to stiffen, so get some exercise in order to increase the blood flow through your body and not develop any cramps from sitting too long.

2. Physical and Mental Nourishment

Now that you’ve got your body moving and blood flowing back to your brain, it’s time to nourish your body and mind with some good food and drink to replenish some of the energy you spent exercising. And since your organs will be more active, the food and drink you eat will digest faster and provide you with much needed energy to write. Take care of the body, you’ll take care of the mind.

I’m not a dietician so I can’t really suggest anything specifically healthy for writers in particular, though we all have some rough idea of what constitutes as “healthy food,” so use your best judgement. You know, your fruits and vegetables, your whole grains, and so on.

I personally like to eat buttered peanut butter toast after yoga and have a hot steaming mug of black coffee to wash it down with. Coffee is a writer’s bestfriend, after all!

I’ve loved peanut butter since I was a kid and it also just so happens to help with improving memory, cognitive function and concentration; brain functions that writers benefit greatly from. You want to remember intricate details about your work, choose the right words and passages to incorporate them, and be able to do so with the focus required to weave it all together in a compelling and comprehensible way.

And, of course, who can deny the wonderful jolt of energy coffee can bring when you most need it? Not to mention it’s quite quite to take sips every few paragraphs of writing, or whenever you need a moment to pause and think about what to write next.

On top of the physical nourishment you can provide for yourself, there’s also the mental nourishment beyond the benefits of peanut butter and coffee. This can come in the form of reading other books or watching a TV show, or consuming any other art form that inspires or even informs your writing.

Once again, choose your own adventure. As of this blog post, my pre-writing mental nourishment is reading about Stoicism for an hour so that I can steel my mind and feel inspired by these ancient intellectual greats, who I’m learning bestowed a ton of wisdom on us that the world now views as commonplace, but that’s a discussion for another time.

Feed your body and mind with good food and good art, you’ll need the energy and inspiration.

3. Warm Up Writing

After taking good care of yourself, it is finally time to do some warm up writing. Whether you consider it “actual” writing or not, it’s a very useful practice that can help ease you into focus. It can also help combat your inner editor and possible perfectionism.

Just like how a singer will do silly sounding warm up exercises before a performance, a writer, too, must do silly writing exercises to be okay with making mistakes and imperfect prose. You get that out of your system, then you’re more likely to feel comfortable with the “actual” writing you want to do, whether it’s a novel, a screenplay, or anything else in between.

I’ve written several blog posts in the past about different forms of free writing you can do, often suggesting that depending on how “stuck” you feel, the longer you will want to free write. On a good day, I give myself only five minutes to free write before I sit down to work on a project, otherwise when I’m feeling a ton of resistance, my free writing can go from 10-20 minutes depending on how stuck I feel.

Here are the three types of journals I’ve written about before that you can potentially use for your warm up writing exercise:

  1. The Personal Journal – I cannot stress enough how important it is for people to start journaling because it helps you understand yourself tremendously when you pour your heart out onto the page about your true thoughts and feelings about your life. As of this blog post, journaling for an hour is my personal writing warm up exercise because 2021 was an eventful year for me and I’m still processing some of the things that happened in it for me.
  2. The Free Fall Journal – One of the first things I learned in Creative Writing class was to free write for about 10-20 minutes about anything. And when I say anything, I mean anything. You can write lyrics, a loose outline of your novel’s next chapter, or you can even write a whole ton of gibberish, it doesn’t matter. As long as you’re warming up your mind to get any sort of thoughts out onto the page.
  3. The Shadow Journal – For the really resistant writers, this kind of journal could help you contend with your own dark side. You know the one. Your ego. The thing that constantly tells you that you’re not good enough and that you shouldn’t even bother writing today, it’s a waste of time. Or it’s too hard, so why bother? Writing a Shadow Journal is a deep and intense discussion with your own dark side, arguing as to why you are capable of writing. Not just today, but in general. You give your inner critic a voice and listen to what it has to say, but then you squash it with counter arguments that restore your belief in yourself. If you so dare, of course. This type of journal is risky, so proceed with caution!

There’s also a variety of writing prompts you can do that are out there if you are looking to do something a little lighter than full out journal entries like I’ve suggested. Looking at this list now, I’m surprised how I haven’t even written about The Progress Journal, so make to follow the blog in order to get notified when that post gets published!

The bottom line is: warm up writing is like a singer doing vocal warm ups, and you can think of writing your actual project as showtime!

Speaking of which…

4. The Actual Writing

Now it’s time to do some actual writing!

Hoping that you’ve nourished your body and mind properly, and warmed up your writer’s mind, it is time to finally write what you’ve probably been thinking about writing for a long time.

If it’s a big project like a full length novel or movie script, which require a huge time and energy commitment, it is that much more important to have these pre-writing routines set in place so your body and mind can associate this sequence of actions to serve your ultimate purpose: creative self expression.

This purpose can often get stifled when we do not build healthy habits that help support us toward integrating writing into the rest of our daily lives. Since writing a huge project can take so much time and energy, it’ll only be natural to not feel like it on certain days, but if you develop and stick to your routine, you can make it a lot easier for yourself to sit down and write when you know need to.

This part is self explanatory so we won’t linger on it for too long.

You know what to do, just do it!

And then of course…

5. Reward Yourself

Last, but certainly not least, you should have a reward in place for all your writing troubles. I personally like to play some video games and produce music after a long and hard writing session.

Once again, whatever you choose is entirely up to you!

The idea is to have something to look forward to after each writing session, especially on the days in which the writing itself isn’t the thing you’re looking forward to doing. And understandably so because not only is writing difficult, so is the simple act of getting your self started is arguably even more difficult.

Otherwise posts like this wouldn’t even exist to help people with a very common problem. I will write more in the future about how you can reignite the flame that initially inspired you if it happens to be flickering out later in the project’s lifespan. But for now, give these tips a try and let me know how it goes!

Productive Procrastination

Have you ever gotten a song stuck in your head and just couldn’t remember the title of it even if it was at the tip of your tongue? Then went on about your day like normal and just when you thought you’ve forgotten all about it, then suddenly you remember the song title?

This is the power of the subconscious mind. When you try to engage it consciously it often does not yield any benefit because that’s not how this sneaky mental ninja works. It’s actually best to set an intention for something you want, let it wonder in the back of your mind, and allow for your subconscious to work on it in the background.

This is why a lot of creative people come up with their greatest ideas in the shower, while they’re driving, and doing anything else that can be as far removed from the intended activity as possible. And this is also why you might not have to feel too guilty about procrastinating on any creative endeavour, so long as you actually sit down and chip away at it at some point in a reasonable timeframe.

Binging Netflix

When I used to party a lot in my twenties, a common thing people would express guilt about was the amount of Netflix they were watching. Someone would ask, “what have you been up to?” And the response would be, “binging Netflix,” through chuckles that would be an attempt to hide their shame for not looking for a job or enrolling in some kind of post secondary education.

They had this preconception that being an adult meant always being busy and tired, and it actually made me feel kind of sad for them that they did appreciate this mental health break habit a little more than they could have.

The way I saw it was, based on the kinds of shows and movies they were watching, they were passively submitting an avatar of themselves to project onto the screen in the form of the show or movie’s protagonist who would overcome insurmountable obstacles. It’s not that these people were being lazy and doing absolutely nothing, per se, rather they were doing a whole lot while not doing a whole lot at the same time.

They were productively procrastinating.

When we watch our favourite characters contend with the conflict of the plot and other characters in a story, we are seeing ourselves in them and expanding our capacity to see the possibilities in tough situations we may encounter ourselves. To watch our characters grow and evolve, especially when their struggles hit home for us, we are inadvertently learning how to process our own struggles and develop the strength and courage act thereafter.

The thing that would often happen with these people I would run into at parties is that a few months down the line I’d hear that they started going to school or gotten jobs, or if they were already employed and/or educated, they took up new hobbies and interests that enriched their lives.

It was as if they needed those couple of months to decompress and binge watch their favourite shows, much to the dismay of their parents and other people in their lives, including themselves, who were expecting a little more out of them than lazing around “doing nothing.”

As far as I can tell, that Netflix binging period of their lives served as time to buffer while they reoriented themselves physically and mentally, and maybe even emotionally, to reengage with the world when they felt safe and confident to do so again.

The Self Help Junkie

Now, I know what you’re thinking, “how can self help be considered procrastination?”

A lot of people assume that pursuing personal development means personal perfection. That they cannot engage with the world and form relationships until they are absolutely perfect in knowing themselves, and only then will they be able to go out into the world and show that true self that’s been locked away from years of pain and anguish.

This was me for a very long time. I would read every self help book I can and watch all these motivational videos, all the while not really doing much in the real world in terms of seeking employment or even forming relationships with people. Sometimes the feeling of reassurance from the motivational talks and the rush of discovering all these insights about myself was enough to make me feel good about myself and then not do much else with it.

I once had a friend who asked me, “what if all this self knowledge stuff is what’s preventing you from finding a partner?” And at the time my ego came up with the defensive retort, “maybe you lacking in self knowledge is why you always end up in crappy relationships. I want to avoid that by becoming the best me possible so my future girlfriend and I don’t have to suffer through the dysfunctions you guys are experiencing.”

Looking back now, I can see just how extreme and black and white I was in my thinking. I can’t say for sure if what I said about my friend was correct, it’s not my place to really say since only he knows the details of his personal journey as intimately as he does. Anything coming from me would just be a bunch of baseless and defensive assumptions.

But one thing I can say for sure was that he was right about me. For a long time I invested in personal development and thought I knew myself to a T, but you only really get to know how well you’ve developed as a person when you engage with other people and see how this new and improved you actually manages in relationships.

So alas, my arrogance was often squelched by my own set of weird and dysfunctional relationships that gave me a very rude awakening: I really didn’t know myself as much as I thought I did. It only felt like that because I had consumed countless of books and videos about personal development that made me feel good about myself, but without proper application and guidance by a mentor and/or therapist, you can never really know if what you’re learning is even valid.

Which is why as a side note, I highly suggest you hire a life coach and/or a therapist to help guide you through your personal development. No one should have to do it alone, we’re all in this together. And you can have some of the most empathic friends and family who listen to you well, ask you all the right questions, and give you all the reassurance you need.

But the value of a mentor via therapy or life coaching is that this person can have emotional objectivity about you since they don’t have a personal connection to you beyond hired professional and paying client. They’ll be able to see you from an even higher bird’s eye view than your friends and family. A therapist especially, since they know how the human mind works, can really help you understand yourself a whole lot better based on neuroscience and psychology.

Last thing I’ll say on self help is that engaging in personal development assumes you’re flawed in some way, hence your desire to develop personally. But that shouldn’t come at the cost of your self esteem because it’s easy to fall under the trap of perfectionism with it.

Never be too afraid to apply what you learn from self help books, videos, and programs to see if what you’re being taught is valuable. There is no one size fits all solution to personal growth so you’ll have to take and discard principles from varying sources that work particularly for you. And if you also experience a period where you become a self help junkie yourself, see that as a time for you to incubate before you’re ready to hatch and get out into the world.

Mindlessly Browsing the Internet

Even mindlessly browsing the internet can be a source of productive procrastination regardless of the content you’re consuming. Best case scenario is that you are watching things relevant to your goals and learning things, but even if you are just watching cat videos and stupid dance videos on TikTok, there’s always gonna be that voice in the back of your mind that is constantly reminding you of the things you know you should be doing.

Listen to that voice, especially when it begins to get louder and louder over time. It’s crucial. If you try and ignore it, it will definitely be upset with you, but at the same time it will take your intended goals into your subconscious and work it out for you before you engage in the activity you know you could be doing.

If you are consuming content that does educate you on your interests and profession, then great, just make sure not to let it all slip out of your mind without proper application down the line. If you’re watching pointless cat and meme videos, just recognize that our brains don’t always have to be all go, go, go! at all times. Speaking as someone who has ADHD, there is a ton of value in some passive brain activity. We all need the mental break from time to time.

Even as you read this article, maybe there is something nagging at the back of your mind that you should be doing so I don’t want to keep you any longer than I need to. I appreciate your time and attention to read this and hope that you can eventually pick up your socks and do the things you know you “should” be doing.

Final Thoughts

You should still carve out some time to do the thing you know you should be doing. Maybe it’s writing a novel, recording a song, or other responsibilities in life like chores around the house Whatever it is that you’re putting off, just know that as you put it off, your subconscious mind is priming yourself to kick ass at it once you get down to it, assuming you let yourself engage in it in the first place.

But hey, don’t get too down on yourself when you’re procrastinating. Because maybe it’s just the buffer time you need to before you feel ready and competent enough to engage with the world at large.

What are you currently procrastinating on?

Is there a productive outcome from this procrastination?

Let me know in the comments below!

The Importance of Mentorship

In order to achieve mastery in a given field, it is important to have mentors whose mastery you would wish to emulate. Forming a connection with someone who has already achieved the same goals as you can vastly increase your chances of succeeding. Not only do they show you how they made it possible for themselves, but they could also see the potential in you to do the same and tease out what you might have to do in order to improve.

The Eternal Student

One of the best ways to approach life is to act as if you are a student from now until eternity, constantly learning and constantly growing. While it is important to celebrate victories and milestones as they come, you cannot allow yourself to get too attached to those small instances of joy. They can feel really good in the moment, as they should, but a sense of pride and enjoy are fleeting, much like most things in life. It’s all temporary and not meant to last.

If you veer off too much into being proud of your accomplishment, you can risk stifling your growth because you will have become so arrogant as to think you know it all now because of this one peak among the valleys. Know that you can always be reaching one peak higher than the last so long as you draw breath. And all the other valleys that come in between are nothing but stepping stones toward that next peak.

Having a mentor guide you through your journey can help you measure whether or not the challenges you come across in your given field are worth conquering or if they are nothing but dead weight. Operating from your frame of reference you will only be seeing the forest for the trees and a good mentor will be able to see where you are at from the bird’s eye view above the said forest.

If you remain open minded about seeing each challenge as an opportunity to learn something new about the world and yourself, then you are already ahead of most people who do nothing but complain about life not giving them what they want. Important things in life must be earned through our own sheer hard work and determination. Almost nothing gets handed to us for free, and even if you do receive something for free, it’s not really free–but that’s a topic for another day.

If you also have a mentor while having this mentality then you can accelerate your growth if you are willing to take their feedback and criticisms of your ever growing mode of being. Mistakes will happen and you have to accept that. If we already knew exactly what to do and how, there would be no point in even experiencing life because then you would be operating from a place of absolute perfection that it’s not even human.

It does not matter how driven or ambitious you are, anything worth achieving requires a lot of hard work and determination, and none of that comes easy. And so a good mentor will constantly remind you that while you may make mistakes along the way, they can reassure you that it is all part of the process and in fact, they are important for the process because that sting of failure can often be a strong motivator to not make the same or similar mistakes down the line.

Choosing Your Mentors

A mentor can be anybody you look up to. Maybe you’re a bodybuilder and need a personal trainer to be your mentor. Maybe you’re an artist and need a professional artist to be your mentor. Or maybe you’re a writer and need a writing coach to be your mentor.

A mentor should be someone who you can talk to on a regular basis and share your progress with and have the express purpose of getting open and honest feedback on how you can improve yourself. They need to be well accomplished in a way that you wish to be and need to be willing to show you the ropes rather than see you as a burden to their own growth, in which case they might not be mentor material because they have yet to establish themselves in their field.

However, if for whatever reason you cannot find a mentor you can talk to in person or even online, there is also the concept of virtual mentors. These can range from a plethora of rich and famous people who may or may not even be in the same field of expertise you are wishing to excel at. For instance, as a writer, you can still look up to an actor not so much in content of what they do since it’s different from your work, but the content will be very much the same: a creative person who is constantly taking on new projects and exploring different sides of their self expression.

If you go the virtual mentor route, pay close attention to interviews involving these people and learn from how they compose and explain themselves when they are asked questions regarding their professions. The real questions, though, not the celebrity fluff like what their favorite flower is or if they like Christmas. Real questions that could be asked of an accomplished writer such as Stephen King that could be along the lines of, “how are you able to consistently write 1000 words a day?”

The first thing to note is that he has a very reasonable daily goal. Two thousand words a day might sound like a lot to some people–it certainly would have when I was still starting out as a writer–but it is definitely manageable with enough practice. Then the second thing is that it’s an almost daily accomplishment for him which can tip you to the fact that there has to be some kind of routine he goes through before he gets himself to sit down and write those 2000 words a day. And lastly, how he handles himself in the zone of writing those 1000 words is important to note as well.

What Stephen King does before he sits down to the write for the day is have a glass of water or tea around the same time every morning, about 8:00am-8:30 and ensures that his papers and desk are set in the right order as he sits in the same seat each day. This ritualistic approach to his writing primes his brain to remember that when he takes these certain actions that they will inevitably lead toward writing those 2000 words he sets out to write each day. And he does not allow himself to stop until all is said and done which happens between 11:30am-1:30pm before he is free to go about his day any way he pleases afterward.

Now while you might not take the exact approach as Stephen King would, as a writer it is important to establish daily rituals that get you into the mood for writing as consistently as possible. The content of Stephen King’s routine are not important, at least not for you. The context is more important. The context of someone who has reached a certain level of mastery in his given field who has an established routine that makes it almost certain that he accomplishes what he sets out to do for the day.

The advantage of having a mentor you can actually talk to, though, is that they can provide you with even more insight about their routines in a way that just reading a book about them would not suffice. Because then you can ask more nuanced questions about what happens if certain aspects of the routine are disrupted or somehow not possible, or what they would do if they still cannot engage in their practice despite having done their seemingly surefire routine. And if they are generous and humble enough, they could share how they deal with their own self doubt and how they squash it in favor of higher pursuits.

Humanizing Your Mentors

As great as mentors can be in showing you what is possible in a given field, we must also remember that they are still human and are prone to mistakes themselves. The point of having a mentor may be to emulate what they do in order to succeed, but that does not mean you need to follow their advice and examples to a tee.

While it is great to choose a mentor who is much further along than you are and is in a position to help you out immensely, you cannot fall under the trap of thinking that they are the paragons of success. If it is not enough for you to listen to them share about their past challenges and how they overcame them, you need to be hyperaware of the challenges they may still be facing in the present all the while lending you a hand with your endeavors.

So do not idealize or idolize your mentors. They may be ahead of you in your current field, but remember that they too may be lacking or struggles in other areas of life so not all of their advice and guidance may be valid. You will have to be very discerning in deciding whether or not to follow what they say. For all you know what works for them may not actually work for you, but a good mentor will always be adamant about letting you know that there is a multiplicity of paths that can lead you to your destination, not just theirs.

This doesn’t mean that mentors are completely useless in the end. It just means that you are better off with mentors than you are without, but you cannot depend on them to show you all the ropes. A lot of those other ropes they cannot show you are the ones you need to discover and explore on your own, using all that you have learned from your mentors in order to orient toward the right direction.

Do you have any mentors in your life?

What difference have they made in your life?

Let me know in the comments below!