Delaying Gratification Works, and other annoying truisms of the universe


There is so much great wisdom out there absolutely free for the taking, it astounds me sometimes what a colossal assface I can be.

Take flossing, for example. Sure, I grew up in the Stone Age when we clambered around freely from the back to the front seat of the car, unencumbered by restraint devices, and via the courtesy of Fred's two feet. But by the time I got to college, I had definitely owned at least one thingy of dental floss. For, like, 10 years. And I'd even heard that if you used it (beyond the obvious times, like impacted bits of popcorn), there might be some beneficial action for you down the road, like keeping your teeth.

Did I listen? HA. (That's "no." No, I did not listen. And I will have the recurring slasher-movie-esque episode at my dentist's next week to prove it.)

Smoking was another one. Sure, people did it with impunity around the time of my birth. It was only via the grace of God and a really forward-thinking OB/GYN that Mom didn't do nicotine (or caffeine, or Thalidomide) during her pregancy with me.

But definitely by the time I was not quite old enough to smoke but started doing it anyway, we knew better. And I got to watch several aunts and uncles go through the torture of quitting, too, over and over and over. Good times!

Yet who was the big asshole who had to smoke anyway because it was sooooooo cool or something idiotic like that? I was. Me. Little Miss No-Floss, a.k.a. The Future Farting Machine of the Merchandise Mart, that's who.

So you'd think that by now, staring down 48 and surely, my imminent demise (Shirley, she's gonna be the first one to take a whack at me if Father Time doesn't bring me down before her), I would know about first things first. I learned it at the feet of my loser-cum-uber-success father, he of the lists and the failed agency and the final payday. I read it in a damned book. I read about the item in the damned book over and over again on a million blogs during the GTD/productivity-blog boom of the mid-aughts.

Still, here's me, avoiding the big rocks and playing with the sand. Whee! Lookit all the sand running through my fingers! Lookit my beautifully styled file folder labels and color-coded calendar entries! I haven't done any of the stuff they're attached to, but fuck it, these deck chairs look so much better arranged this way, don't you think?

Something happened recently to shift all that. I'm not sure if it's this new accountability group I joined or the alignment of the stars or just an accumulation of painful lessons that's hit the critical mass watermark, but I am actually, finally Getting Shit Done, and not because I have it carved up into agenda lists and action items. (Well, partly because of it. Let's be fair.) Somehow, some way, I just sat my ass down in the chair and started plugging away at some big, fat, long overdue projects. And they're getting done, slowly but surely.

More miraculously, I'm getting a little better at not taking on more big, fat projects of the variety that, with my already overloaded schedule, run the clear risk of becoming long overdue at some point. A little better. Sometimes I say "yes" and then turn around and say "no," which is not great. Occasionally, I say "maybe, let me think about it" and then I come back and say "no," which is better. Whatever. It's a step in the right direction, I think. And while I still can't quite see the light at the end of the tunnel, I'm feeling a bit more room in general, which is good. No, which is GREAT. This, I wish for you: that you feel lots and lots of this little bit of room that I'm feeling.


This is me telling you nothing you don't already know, but that maybe you, like me, need constant reminding of: do it. You know what, that thing. That really, really big thing. That one big thing you really, really don't want to do but that you know if you do, will feel like you've just passed a kidney stone in the good way. Do one thing toward getting it done, like putting it on your Actual Calendar, and then not putting anything else on your Actual Calendar for that day. Call and make the appointment, plunk down your cash for the class, park your ass in the seat and pull up the Illustrator file.

Do it do it do it.

Because as fun as it is to change the world by talking about it, it's even more fun and inspiring to have some room to actually do it. Or to be it. To be the change.

I'm two logos and a presentation design away from putting design behind me completely. This weekend got me one giant step closer to doing it.

What are you NOT working on right now that you know you should? Spill it, sister, let's work through this shit together...


Image by got plaid? via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.