A while ago, I wrote about why early retirement is made for engineers and their “let’s optimize stuff” mindset. Today, I’ll talk about something else that applies a lot to me: procrastination.
You see, procrastination has been one of the driving reasons for me to want to retire: as I look back, I realize that I’ve procrastinated at work for pretty much my entire life. I can’t think of a single corporate job I did that I could work hard at for a very long period of time. Sometimes, I am still amazed at some of the great performance reviews I get at my 9 to 5, because oh boy, I sure don’t work really hard.
If you’re a procrastinator, you know the feeling: keep postponing everything that’s not urgent, until it becomes urgent. You then badly freak out, do things in a rush, and, well, you avoid a crisis quite regularly… somehow, being a procrastinator has actually helped me in my engineering job. It’s a position where lots of the projects I work on end up being cancelled at the last minute. Not working on projects has often been the right thing to do for me, in hindsight. On many projects.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not paid to sit on my ass and do nothing all day. Once in a while I’ll enter a frenzy of “let’s do this”, I’ll work very hard and deliver on the stuff that matters to me, and that sometimes happens to matter to the company as well. One thing I can say about me is that I rarely give up on the stuff I’m passionate about. It’s just difficult for me to be passionate about other people’s dreams in general.
If you find yourself in a similar position as me, procrastination ends up driving your entire life. It can get very stressful. Have you ever found yourself stressed about finding ways to explain why you haven’t worked on something, getting “saved by the bell” because it’s Friday, and telling yourself you’ll definitely get to it on Monday? This happens all the time to me, and in my case it led me to think: “what if one day my company found out that I’m procrastinating that much? I’d totally get fired, and I’d probably be too bored to bother finding a new job. I need to do something about it”. Kind of my own version of the impostor syndrome.
Hint: I’ve started observing my colleagues since I admitted to myself that I’m a procrastinator. I think the reason I still do good in a corporate job is that pretty much everyone in a 9 to 5 is procrastinating one way or another. I’ve seen people not paying attention at all for entire meetings, playing with their phones, etc… These people offer at best 3 to 4h of productive time to the company. This makes me feel better about my own “cycle”, which is closer to “do nothing for a week, then work like crazy the week after that”. When all is said and done, procrastinators probably provide more value than people who are just “not here” mentally, most of the time.
My laziness and tendency to procrastinate is one of the things that led me to look into financial independence. “If I can’t ensure the future of my family by working a 9 to 5 forever, I need to find other ways”, I told myself.
Procrastination has a lot to do with passion. There are different types of procrastinators, I’m the type that won’t do something if I don’t see the point. And, lots of the tasks in a corporate job have no point in the first place (See: cancelled projects as I mentioned above). On the other hand, if I’m passionate about something, it’s difficult to get me off of it.
I found that reaching financial independence is a fun goal for me, I consider it as a game. As such, I don’t procrastinate on reaching that goal. Sure, there are still lots of financial-related things that are boring to me, and where I’m not doing a great job (e.g. tax optimization), but overall I think being enthusiastic about this goal is what’s going to save me from having to hide my procrastination at work. By quitting it before people realize 🙂
Are you a procrastinator? Do you feel it has something to do with your financial freedom goals?