I have a problem: I’m an impatient, procrastinating perfectionist (in recovery). I like things to be a specific way, but my timing is often too late, and my attention span too short, to get me to where I want to be.
This problem manifests itself most clearly in my work as a writer and pastor. I love the beginning of the creative process, when ideas are running through my mind like a Lamborghini on the Autobahn, because progress is rapid and smooth.
But the moment I choose a topic to address, progress begins to slow until I eventually feel like my mind is in a horse-cart on some cratered, back-country road. It sucks, but I don’t think this feeling is unusual for people who do creative work. In fact, I don’t even think it’s a problem, unless I start looking for a shortcut, an easy way off the road.
When you take the easy way out, when you don’t push through the potholes, you sacrifice the quality of your product. When you procrastinate and start on a project too late, you almost force yourself to skip the struggle, on the other side of which is a greater product that has the potential to make a greater impact.
Listen to me: Even if you’re really skilled at what you do, don’t use your talent to justify turning off the road prematurely. It’s better to experience difficulty in the process than disappointment in the product.
Earlier this week I was writing a sermon for this Sunday. I had some good notes, and had invested a significant amount of time in explaining and illustrating two major points before I realized they weren’t really major points at all (it’s a long story).
In the past I might have told myself, “I can make this work. I didn’t invest all this time in these points for nothing!” But this time I took a step back, identified the main point of the text, and made my previous points sub-points of a sub-point! And you know what? I’m really, truly excited to preach this weekend, because the product is good.
Don’t procrastinate. Don’t take shortcuts. Stick to the process so you can celebrate the product!