There is a fine line between procrastination and allowing inspiration to strike.
I was blatantly procrastinating when I chose to go to the grocery store rather than write copy I told myself I would start yesterday.
Yet, we were out of groceries, after all. (Insert sigh of justification)
I love wandering Trader Joe’s. And even more than that, I love Trader Joe’s employees. I am not an overly friendly, strike-up-a-conversation-with-anyone-and-everyone type person. I need to be coaxed gently into dialogue.
So as Joe approaches me to help me get my bag of groceries to the check-out counter, he smoothly asks, “So when does your weekend start for you?” I pause, internally asking myself, did I start it? Will I return and start writing or will I blow it off for some much deserved extra R&R? After all, I did move mountains this week. I had some huge wins and maybe I should give it a rest. He sees the wheels spinning in my head and responds with “Or don’t you get a weekend?” He pulls me out of my inner dialogue so I can reply, “Yes, I work for myself so I decide when it starts and since I am done with all scheduled activities for the week, I am deciding whether I spend my afternoon writing or not. I want to shift out of the feeling that I have to into the space of wanting to and being inspired to do so.” He immediately jumps in with “Oh, I totally get that, I consider myself a writer also, yet now that no one makes me write, I am having a hard time staying accountable.” And we were off in genuine conversation.
We all crave connection, yet for me, I am often not the one to initiate it. And sometimes I don’t even look at people because I am so lost in thought in my own head, Sometimes, I don’t even truly see them. I love that I never get a “Did you find everything you were looking for today?” Quickly followed by “Paper or plastic?” Alright, I do use my own grocery bags so I do not get that question anymore, yet you know what I am talking about. The rote, standard questions that are mechanically uttered while they themselves are off in their own heads in their own little worlds not listening to the answers anyway.
Just. Like. Me.
Why, when I crave connection, do I not seek it out more? And how does Trader Joe’s do it? Do they train their staff providing scripts for better, more engaging questions, or do they simply hire the kind of person naturally gifted at striking up a conversation? And why when I am naturally gifted at diving deep into the psyche and being able to deeply hear and understand others, do I not use that gift in my everyday encounters?
1) Go ahead and procrastinate, it may be just what you need to get inspired.
2) Go ahead and write, even when it is not what you were going to write about, the process of writing will “unstuck” the creative block so you can go on to write what really needs to be written. As one of my favorite quotes from Picasso goes: “If a voice in your head tells you you cannot paint, then by all means paint and the voice will be silenced.” Tap into your gratitude. All. Day. Long.
I had already spent an hour in the morning with my gratitude journal because I had such an amazing week and hadn’t yet expressed all my gratitude in writing yet. I believe that process allowed for even more things to be grateful for to come into my life like my encounter with Joe, and his inspiring me to write.
3) Make eye contact. Smile more.
4) When you have a really amazing week and see one miracle after another take place, keep the momentum going. I didn’t need “a break” as I was telling myself, I wasn’t tired, I was simply a little freaked out by all the blessings that I thought I should slow it down. How much good can one person handle? Time to expand my upper limit for good in my life!
5) Self-reflection is only helpful when I am kind. It doesn’t help to ask myself why I am not friendlier unless I am asking out of curiosity instead of judgment.
How about you? Any other tidbits or lessons you can extrapolate out of this story? Are you procrastinating on something yourself? Perhaps moving forward on something unrelated is exactly what you need to move you forward. Share any insights or your own experiences below.