Pockets of Win

Procrastination impacts our lives like an avalanche. We wait, put off, distract ourselves with other things. Then a pile of rubbish comes landing on our heads and we end up with a mess far greater than the delayed activity that caused it.

It has been six years since The Power of Slow hit the shelves, but the┬áprinciples that live within it still apply today. One of my favorite principles stems from the Procrastination Station chapter, in which I talk about designing pockets of win to keep you motivated when you’d rather be doing something else.

We all put off unpleasant tasks; I don’t know a single person who derives pleasure from plowing through crappy assignments. Most of us moan about the things we have to do that we’d rather not be doing at all: getting up earlier than our bodies prefer; writing those month-end reports that seem endless, repetitive and, in some ways, frivolous; following up — yet again — with someone who chooses to ignore his original promise. And yet we persevere, knowing the alternative is paralysis.

Procrastination adds to the dilemma as we draw out feeling bad about those necessary things in life; and then “those things” loom even larger in our already overtaxed minds. Creating a pocket of win can pull us out of our funk and into the light.

Creating a pocket of win is simple. It is a reward system that causes us to feel better about ourselves — and the world around us. eBay is one of my favorite places to create a space of “yes” for myself. Recently, my son and I cleared out his shelves and placed his beloved comic books on eBay so that he could a) have more space for new books and b) earn a little cash along the way. I find myself checking in on the auctions whenever I start to feel a little blue. It perks me right up to see people’s interest. It then motivates me to continue on, even when I don’t want to.

Then magically those reports get done, the quality of sleep improves and well, those people we chase for answers? Sometimes they surprise us too.


The Appreciation of Depreciation

Nothing measures the passage of time more than watching children grow. Or trees that suddenly shoot up to the sky. Or cars that have served you well that suddenly show signs of aging.

My loyal sports car has a few rough edges now. It failed to pass inspection, showing its depreciated value for the first time since I bought it seven years ago.

“It’s time to invest in your lifestyle,” my love said.

He is right.

I naively thought I might be able to replace my car with another one for a reasonable price. The car dealer suppressed a laugh.

“Ma’am. I don’t think so.”

I could almost hear my sports car sighing with relief when I decided it was time to put some money into repairing it back to health.

Car repairs stress me out. It’s beyond my comfort zone (and I’m used to a certain level of uncertainty. It’s the basis of my entire career!) But there is something about motor oil and grease and loud banging noises that throw me off balance. So I asked my love to escort me to the repair shop for a consultation. He nodded, hmmm’ed and made other sounds of affirmation as the mechanic rattled off the things I’d need to make Herman (yes, that’s my car’s name) well again.

It’s amazing what happens when you’re in distress like that. The mechanic agreed to work with me on the price and the timing. He really wanted to help me. I was astounded by his generosity. And grateful for giving my car what it needs.

Whenever things break down, whether it’s a car, device or household gadget, there is always opportunity to look behind the curtain to discover the remarkable people who will come to your aid. Or the experience of not having that thing work and what it feels like when you are without it.

We are so accustomed to everything functioning as we want it to, including ourselves. And when things — and other people – don’t act as we wish them to, it’s a chance to examine our own expectations.

Life is full of mystery. And I have gained a new appreciation for the depreciation of things. How else would we see the magic lurking just beneath the surface of All That Is?