I usually get up in the mornings early to do taiji, but today, between guest and Daylight Savings Time, I resisted. I resisted all day, and now it’s 8:30pm. I’ve only just finished my taiji for the day. I’m noticeably warmer now (ok, sweaty) as a result of the energy work, and trying to pay attention to both internals and externals. I finished on the correct breath (in), as well as in the correct position, and facing the correct direction. A good day.
Procrastination is the enemy of any great achievement, whether it be completing a novel or becoming a master of an art form, or teaching children and adults to use design process as a problem-solving methodology. Yesterday’s NEDS would have been much more successful — more participating teams, more schools involved, more kids learning — if I hadn’t bowed to my own procrastination and fear. That’s why my taiji teacher always said that this martial arts stuff was really about defeating the worst enemy of all — the self. In the Western Mystery/Magical tradition, there’s a demon called the Dweller on the Threshold, the shadowy figure that stands in the dark of the unknown future, saying, “you’re not good enough, you’re not smart enough, you’re not strong enough to go on from here.” I think that in American schools, we don’t do a good enough job of teaching kids to dispel that demon, and force it to shut up and sit down. Let’s face it, it’s a demon that kids confront every day, regardless of whether they believe in demons or not; and regardless of whether we as teachers believe in demons. Sure, we call it other things — “you waited until the night before, didn’t you?” or “Johnny’s procrastination got the better of him on this project.” — but really it’s the Dweller on the Threshold.
I got my taiji done before the day’s end, but I would have had a better day if I’d done it when I first got up. Instead I felt like a slow, dumb, ill and boring entity for most of the day. I’m more effective and capable when I’ve done my energy-raising work for the day. Right now, I feel more awake than I have all day.
What tools do you use, personally, to banish procrastination? What do you teach your kids? Does it work?