Delaying action, putting something off, not dealing with “it” has gotten a bad rap in my life. It came under the heading of “Procrastination,” which was a really big word with big negative connotations ever since I was a young girl.
“You’re just procrastinating!” delivered with a scowl and disapproving tone defined my action or non-action as less than worthy. Well yeah, if it was something I didn’t like, didn’t volunteer for, or plain out was told to do. Heck no, I was going to avoid it anyway I could.
“I don’t feel good.” “I’m scared.” “I don’t wanna.” And the brushfire that could start and deflect the necessary action, “You can’t make me.” Yes, I had some authority issues. Those childhood messages did get explored and defined and the sting lessened but the equation where delay = procrastination still had an overly negative vibe.
During a sad and shaky time in my life when I had to, really had to, take a look at how I was approaching life situations, a dear friend told me not to think too much about what I had to do. “Don’t think. You know what you have to do. Just go ahead and do it.” This was kind of an early Zen-like approach to “drop the story line” and take action. Wise friend gave me a visual for this too.
“G.O.Y.A. It’s a visual reminder to Get Off Your Ass!”
Of all the short and trendy admonishments I’d heard, the post-it notes that went ignored, the over-due notices that came in the mail, this one worked. Over the years my GOYA product got me writing, called the dentist, got a lawyer to help me with a will, called the insurance company, wrote that apology letter, did the boring tedious edits for my first, and second book, took the car for inspection- before the expiration date.
GOYA, my faithful companion! I have to acknowledge the relief when the above tasks were done. I took care of my self. The reminders in my head that kept looping – Call. Write. Go- they stopped. I still use G.O.Y.A. After a GOYA session, there’s space to chill out, take a break and do nothing for a bit. And that kind of doing nothing is not procrastinating.
Ethel Lee-Miller blogs regularly about people, the power of words, and the writing life. She’s been immersed in writing for over 30 years, teaching, coaching, editing, and gathering writers to publicly share their work. She is the author of Thinking of Miller Place, and Seedlings, Stories of Relationships. She also enjoys sharing stories at Odyssey Storytelling, Tucson Tellers of Tales, and just about anywhere there’s a mic.