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Terminal Procrastinator

Question:

Here’s me: I am 25 years old, male. If it helps at describing my personality background, I am an INFP on the myers-briggs type indicator. Here’s my problem. I feel like I have terminal procrastination. I can’t seem to prioritize anything ‘correctly’. By this I mean the way most people would. I seem to have trouble doing everyday tasks on time that most other people do often on time. I seem only to “pay up” a utility bill when there’s a threat of shut off. I am regularly late with my rent. It took me 3 years to get around to buying car insurance. Also, I am usually running late for appointments with friends and families, and I often I skip out on appointments at hair salons, etc. Sometimes I honestly forget, yet other times I find myself making lame excuses for my poor behavior, sometimes which are complete lies. I am sometimes guilty of lip service, making commitments I deep down doubt I can make. The house is usually a mess — taking me a week to get around to doing the dishes, etc. Only under the “threat” of houseguests might I actually clean, and a few times I just hide the dishes in a closet. I am still in college, and I started when I was 16. I have attended sporadically, taking a year off here or there. I tend to start out with 5 or 6 classes each semester, and then I will drop down to 3 or 4. I then end up still with usually one or two incompletes every semester. I still haven’t finished my 2 degrees. I feel like I have a problem with ever working more than 20 hours a week at a regular office-type job, as the tedium of the office world depresses me, though I long to be doing creative work for a living (I would like to direct films), and I increasingly realize that might be not realistic, as I have obvious problems with staying motivated. Accomplishments of small goals never seem to ‘make me happy'; I tend to be happiest doing my (creative) work when it seems like the rest of my life doesn’t get in the way of interrupting the creative process. By the rest of my life I mean friends, family, calendars of social obligations and events, etc. Sometimes I wish I could move away and start over fresh in another city, it would limit my social contacts so I could concentrate and work, or perhaps I want to even rent a small quiet clean office with no telephone or outside distractions in my own town, but somehow I feel like even with these options, I would eventually end up finding something to distract myself before my tasks were completed. So, my question: is this a sign of a personality disorder or other mental illness, or am I just lazy? What course of action can I take to lessen or cure this character flaw? Any suggested books, or am I wasting more time obsessing with my problems, instead of just getting down to work? Why do I seem to lack most discipline?

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Answer:

There are different kinds of reasons to seek the help of a therapist. Some people go when they are ill – in the hopes that going will help them to recover. Others go when they are well but need to grow and are stuck as to how to do that. I’m wondering if this latter situation is you right now. I have no idea why you are having so much difficulty in getting discipline and regularity into your life. But I believe you seem to be at a time in your life when you are beginning to ask the right questions. Now might be a good time to look for a mentor to help you get unstuck – and sometimes a therapist is a good mentor. A mentor is a combination of a role model and a catalyst – someone that can be a model of how to have your stuff together and someone who can help you to figure out how to do that. The catch is – it will cost you (either money or time or commitment or something) and it WILL NOT WORK if you don’t stick with it for some time. Find someone to work with which you are comfortable with (a therapist, a boss, even a relative – but someone who has their stuff together)- then do the work by forming a relationship with him or her and showing up for it regularly. Commit to three months or so and see if it doesn’t help. It is certainly worth a try, as nothing else seems to be working too well.

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