What’s the real reason you procrastinate?

It’s funny, I was just sitting here thinking about writing a piece on procrastination, and realised I was putting off starting it.

No kidding.

You see, I’ve ended up with a dilemma over my “Nudge Your Way to Happiness” book.

After a delivery which didn’t show up, I’ve finally got the third printed proof in my hands, and I’m at last really happy (appropriately) with the contents.

Although there’s certain to be the odd but hopefully rare typo in it, I think we’re just about there with the text.

The cover’s looking splendid, too, with the minor exception of me being slightly, perhaps over-fussily, dissatisfied with the colour.


Thanks to an excellent book I’ve just started reading, “The Achievement Habit,” written by Stanford professor Bernard Roth (who I saw speak last week, and then curiously spotted again just now as he cycled past me) I’ve realised that I’m perhaps ascribing a reason for my procrastination which is, well, kind of fake.

I’m telling myself that the delay is because I want the book to be perfect (and of course that’s “perfect” in my eyes – your perception could be very different from mine).

But in the words of Bernard Roth I wonder if my reason is actually bulls**t.

Bernie Roth is a plainspoken New Yorker. I like him.

I now think it has little to do with aesthetics, and more to do with nervousness about putting my work out there.

Wow, even writing that down is cathartic.

(Please excuse me while I self-analyse.)

The whole colour thing is probably a bit of a self-invented excuse, to be honest.

I mean, is anyone actually going to fail to be nudged to happiness simply because the book’s cover has a slightly different shade of blue on it than the one I had in mind?

Of course not.

So maybe we can agree on two things.

First, Cousins should push the metaphorical Publish button.

And second, if you too are putting off doing something, and have come up with what seems to you like a good reason, please ask yourself if this is entirely valid, or whether there might actually be the slightest whiff of Bernie Roth’s bulls**t about it?

I mean, fair’s fair.

I’ve shown you mine.

10 thoughts on “What’s the real reason you procrastinate?

  1. I’m up for procrastination sometimes as a painter and designer, as I tend to listen to my gut and if I am procrastinating it generally means that there is an issue that I need to consider in more detail before I go forth. So I have learned to catch it and use it as a tool. Hope your blue is beautiful.

  2. I totally agree about the fear of putting yourself “out there” and the bulls**t reasons we pull in to prevent the “worst” from actually happening! BUT I would just say that, if you’re not sure about the colour you might be happier to change it now than have it grate every time you look at it later… I know it would drive me nuts! Or hit publish and change it on the next edition, of course! Good luck, either way. I am sure the book is going to help a great many people and I am looking forward to reading and recommending it to clients.

  3. Oh Jon, you hit the funny bone and the truth again in one thought process, nudge. Nearly 50 yrs with my procrastinator partner whom your work has helped So Much, combined with my “can do-go for it-get ‘er done” brings me to this classic basic truth and good mental health building block: any decision better than none but Action on it creates so much positive everything it is as fuel to the spirit. Go for it and in future consider black and white cover, with a sunburst of joy and energy. Anything but blue irrespective of the metaphor or calming etc. As always, love your clarity.

  4. Oh Jon….this is one of your best Moodnudges ever…made me laugh out loud and think deeply about what excuses I make to not do something!!
    Really looking forward to the book as many of us are…and I bet most of us will be happy with your blue!

  5. Your blog made me smile too Jon as I identified with being someone who occasionally, or honestly quite a lot of the time, overthinks, agonises and generally procrastinates over pieces of work or decisons to be made.

    I love writing but am the biggest procrastinator in not finding enough time to write and excuses as to why I can’t write right now or need to tinker and re-edit a piece before I let anyone else see it.

    I even have a Pinterest board about ‘Writing’ which I try to justify playing with instead of actually writing. I just checked my board to see if I could find any quotes to help you ‘push the publish’ button and the best I could find was this-

    “The writer who gets published is the writer who finishes the book.” Ellen Hart

    P.S. Impatient reader called Christine is waiting to read your book!

  6. Wow! This really resonates. I’ve spent the last 5 years working on a novel on depression. The main section is done – edited rewritten edited many times. I’ve decided to add 2 more sections which are part written. I felt it was really important to get it out there to improve understanding- but I’ve put off doing it (looking for agent / publisher). I tell myself it has to be the best it can be (perfect!) but yes it’s more that I’m terrified of letting go, of criticism, rejection – and even success?

  7. Refreshingly honest as always Jon. I agree with all of above but don’t beat yourself up please. The book is what the book is and from what I have seen of it it will be a great support to so many people.
    I often put off or even cancel stuff cos of lack of confidence. Bravery is what is needed sometimes methinks? At whatever level…
    We really look forward to the book when it is published and we are totally honoured to have shared the journey.
    Thank you

  8. Hi Jon
    It feels like your book has become like your baby that you are anxious about launching into the world. Will the book flourish, be a success or will it be maimed by criticism? Of course I may be wrong but that’s how it felt to me.

  9. Go for it Jon. We are looking forward to reading it. You’ve got some things right up to now, as you have helped loads of us. I don’t do pefect any more. I settle for good enough. And sometimes have to settle for less. This morning I came to the conclusion that I don’t mind being 75 too much but I do mind when I find myself behaving like an old lady of 75! I enjoyed hearing your voice.

  10. Such a relevant post. I am really looking forward to having a copy of your book in my hands. I live in France now and have been postponing studying for a French driving licence which is apparently very hard to get but if I don’t at least start and try I certainly won’t ever get one! Going to sign up on Monday – they’re not open today!

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