Procrastination will be the death of us

Procrastinate [proh-kras-tuh-neyt]. To defer action; delay: to procrastinate until an opportunity is lost, to put off till another day or time; defer; delay. Sitting with friends one day, not talking about anything in particular, a great scheme was hatched. We would start a small business venture; this venture would then rapidly expand and end up making all of us millionaires.

Procrastinate [proh-kras-tuh-neyt]. To defer action; delay: to procrastinate until an opportunity is lost, to put off till another day or time; defer; delay.

Sitting with friends one day, not talking about anything in particular, a great scheme was hatched. We would start a small business venture; this venture would then rapidly expand and end up making all of us millionaires.

We would make a business plan, get a company bank account, put our monetary contributions in that account and be RICH. We enthusiastically divided tasks and everything sounded extremely rosy. That is, of course until it was time for the rubber to meet the road.

The fellow who was supposed to write the business plan never came round to writing it; the fellow that was supposed to write the statutes couldn’t be bothered and the contributors, and their monies, never materialized.

And just like that, my dream of being one of the youngest Rwandan tycoons disappeared like a puff of smoke in a gale. The worst aspect of the entire farce is that it’s still ongoing.

Every once in awhile someone will remember the plan and mention it. And like clockwork everyone, me included, gets exciting. And as surely as day follows night, we promptly forget everything the next day.

Here is another real scenario. A group of people sat down recently to see how they could help the less fortunate members of their community; a noble initiative indeed. But instead of moving forward and putting their money where their mouths were, the entire project descended into countless meetings, strategic plans, defining key words and dithering.

How many times have you been told “we shall do things later”? How often are you asked to “wait”? How many conferences, workshops and seminars have you attended where an entire day’s proceedings are dominated by a single paragraph? And, at the end of it all, a simple remedy is found?

I’ve been to a few meetings of that sort, and honestly, it’s frustrating for me to watch people whittle their lives away in things that shouldn’t be issues.

I might be wrong in this assessment, and I stand to be corrected if I’m wrong, but I can’t help but think, that we’ve got procrastination down to an art form.

We’ve fallen in love with meetings, schedules, strategic plans and what not. We have refused to be men (and women) of action.

I can understand the importance of meetings; without any kind of direction, action would be pointless. We’d be like headless chickens, all movement and no bearing. However, it seems that the balance hasn’t been found.

Every time I pass either the Kimihurura road-about or Laico Umubano hotel, posters announce a “Report into the possibility of a feasibility study into mainstreaming gender in local government”, or something inane like that. Meetings like those are recipes for disaster if action is what you want.

At the last National Dialogue (Imishyikirano) the President himself took to task members of government; urging them to start implementing their goals. I wish him luck.

I do so because I wonder whether his urgings shall force an attitude change. It’s as if we’re all suffering from the procrastinating malaise.

Is it because we are afraid of responsibility? Or is it because we are perfectionists? Maybe it’s a bit of both. Our culture of deriding failure might be a culprit.

I remember attending a meeting, (ironically enough) which identified some of the reasons why we don’t have many start-up companies, unlike, say, Uganda. The culture of risk just isn’t in our make up. We are afraid to fail. “What will people think if this doesn’t work”?

There is one reason that I hate to mention because, in doing so, I am pointing a finger at myself. We are prone to getting comfortable in our mediocrity.

Instead of striving to move forward, we are happy to wallow in the recognisable. And that is maddening. And I recognise that in myself.

So, what’s the solution? There isn’t a single silver bullet that will down this werewolf. It’s all about giving yourself a kick in the pants.

I vowed to give myself goals this year that are achievable with hard work and to keep myself honest, I gave myself a time limit.

That is my approach, what’s yours? Do whatever you want, just move forward…and don’t waste time writing a ten page program.  Just do it.

sunnyntayombya@newtimes.co.rw

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