You and I both know you shouldn’t be reading this right now.
There’s other things you know are way more important… but you’re not doing them.
Maybe it’s your life’s work, studying for an exam, or starting a project your boss assigned six months ago but you put off ‘til the last minute and now it’s due tomorrow.
Now that you’ve identified whatever you’re avoiding, ask yourself this:
How long have you been avoiding it?
The longer you avoid something, the more you feel the need to avoid it. The longer you procrastinate, the more you feel the need to procrastinate.
Imagine you’re back in college and haven’t started on your thesis. It’s been on your mind for the entire semester, and your professor has been reminding you about it during every class for months. But still, you haven’t even started.
Now your thesis is due next week and you’re still procrastinating big time.
Every time that little annoying voice in your head goes “you should really start working on your thesis right now,” you push it back down and start running away from reality.
Instead of sitting down and doing the work, you do everything in your power to not do it.
Escapism becomes your best friend: drugs, booze, porn, or whatever addicting websites/games/TV shows reliably give you a sweet hit of dopamine that can make you, just for a moment, forget about the thousand-pound-pile-of-shit that is your thesis.
You keep running. You’re like a kid that runs away from home: you don’t actually care where you end up, you just want to be very far away.
Over time, your avoidance becomes less and less grounded in logic. Avoidance is self-reinforcing — instead of just avoiding your thesis because you don’t feel like doing it, you’re avoiding the avoidance, and all of the strong negative feelings that come with it.
By now your feet are loaded with blisters, your shoes are falling apart, and you’re panting like a camel in the desert. But still, you run.
Until the weekend before your thesis due.
Boom. There it is, the cold pole of reality. You didn’t see it coming, and now it levels you, knocks you to the ground. Bashing your forehead against the cold hard metal is enough to make you stop and realize, “What the fuck am I doing?”
Before you started running, you knew you were going to reach the pole eventually. You knew it existed somewhere, but it seemed irrelevant. All this time it just didn’t feel real. Until now.
THE 3 OPTIONS YOU HAVE RIGHT NOW
Look, I’m not going to sugarcoat it. Your avoidance has put you in a shitty position. Right now you have three options, and they all suck. Hear me out.
You just say fuck everything and go down with the sinking ship. 10/10 highly recommended.
Misery level: Max.
Misery duration: Infinite.
Pro: You absolve yourself of all responsibility.
Con: Your life turns to shit.
You keep avoiding and running away from the mess you’ve created. Because you’re running away, you can’t smell it, but trust me — it’s getting worse.
And real soon you’re going to have to deal with the consequences.
Misery level: High.
Misery duration: Right now + the duration of your avoidance + however long you’ll have to deal with the consequences of not doing whatever you’re avoiding (whether it’s external, like losing your job, or just your own eternal regret).
Pro: You can watch another episode of Master Of None.
Cons: You lose self-respect, actively make things worse for yourself, and have to deal with the consequences of your avoidance. Either way, the lost time means it’ll be harder to do good job on your thesis before it’s due — if you ever finish at all. Prolonging your avoidance is like gradually adding bricks to your boat: it might not sink right now, but it’s only a matter of time before it all goes down.
You acknowledge that you put yourself in a shitty spot and get to work.
But before you start a pity party, remember — this isn’t about you, it’s about the work. Yeah, you could have started sooner, but fuck it: forgive yourself and move on. Everyone does this from time to time. It’s ok. Forget about you and your circumstances and just focus on what needs to be done. Use any leftover disappointment/shame/self-loathing as fuel to slay the dragon.
This doesn’t mean that you have to take over the world or finish your thesis in one day (unless it’s the night before its due).
It means that instead of running away for the thousandth time and making things even worse, you step up to the plate and to prove to yourself and the world that 1) you can and 2) you will.
Misery level: Medium.
Misery duration: Every second before you start your thesis, and a smaller amount during. Misery disappears after you finish.
Pro: You can tuck yourself into bed at night knowing that you stayed a fucking dragon instead of running away and putting your head in the sand for the thousandth time. You’ll create positive momentum, be further along in whatever you needed to do, gain self-respect, be in a better place emotionally, get instant six-pack abs, drastically increase your short-term quality of life, and maybe even feel proud of what you’ve done.
Con: You have to start with no momentum. This is gonna suck, but it’s misery with a purpose, while avoidance is just misery from fear. You’ll actually get something from this misery, instead of cowering in the corner. If you’re going to be miserable, you might as well get the most bang for your buck, right?
Avoidance is a habit. Every time you run away, you lower your avoidance threshold.
In other words: if you run away now, it’ll take less discomfort for you to run away next time, and you make it more likely that you’ll run away in the future.
Why? Because you get relief from running away. Avoidance is tempting because it is so ridiculously effective in the short term — it lets you off the hook and makes some of the stress temporarily go away. But in the long term, it destroys you.
Think of it it this way: if you put your head in the sand, you can’t see the bombs that are falling from the sky… but that doesn’t change the fact that bombs are still falling.
Look, this post is going to last about 10 more seconds.
Afterward, you’ll have a choice.
You’ve got three options: sinking ship, run away, or slay the dragon.
Time is going to pass either way. What are you going to make of it?
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