I am one of those people who boasts about doing my best work under pressure. Famous for waiting until the night before an important school paper was due, my sister slept in the twin bed next to mine while I sat at our room desk until 3 a.m. My mother used to call me, “Last Minute Sadie,” and the title suited me then as it does now. There isn’t a time management tome I haven’t either read or heard about. Steven Covey’s seven habits aren’t wasted on me. I love them, I covet people who live them, and I strive to be a true Covey disciple. In time it may happen, or maybe not.
When my husband and I were dating, I warned him about this character flaw. He would hug and kiss me and with his big smile assure me that it was part of what made me so lovable. Almost 27 years later I think he might answer differently. Thankfully, this curse did not pass to our four children. They are more like him. They are planners and organizers, never late and irritated by people who are. Annoying for someone like me to live with not one, but five people like this. Exhausting is probably a better word. And, it doesn’t end with family. People who know me well have made similar observations over the years. Fortunately, I think they love me in spite of it.
I am writing tongue-in-cheek here, but truthfully, I wish it were different. Like most people, I always have the best intentions about changing unwanted behaviors. I am a hard-wired procrastinator, and if I want to transform from a frog to a princess, it requires what the management experts call, “deep change,” the kind of change that requires new ways of thinking and behaving and risk taking.
New ways of thinking. That means I have to start playing different messages in my head. I believe the messages I’ve heard over the course of my life reinforce my unwanted behavior. “You’re a last-minute Sadie.” “You need better planning skills.” “If you were more like (fill in the blank), you wouldn’t find yourself in this situation.” I could go on but I think I’ve made my point.
New ways of behaving. This is a much more difficult task. I’ve spent a lifetime behaving this way. The truth is, when I try practicing a new desired behavior, I almost always have people ask if something is wrong. It makes me crazy when they say that. I reassure them there is nothing wrong and in no time at all, I am back to putting things off.
New ways of risk taking. This seems an impossible goal for me as I do not consider myself a risk taker. I am a survivor, but risk taker? Not so much. I suffer from claustrophobia and panic attacks. How could I possibly take risks?Like the Greek mythological king, Sisyphus, perhaps I am destined to a lifetime of rolling a boulder uphill, only to watch it roll back down and start all over again. I am a sometimes drama queen and even I think this comparison might be a bit dramatic. On the other hand, serious times call for serious measures. Writing down these thoughts and feelings may help me in my pursuit. In the short time I’ve blogged, something has already started to change. I think I’ve slowed down. Spending time in prayer and reflection are becoming increasingly important. I used to favor masses that had loud, almost rock music.” These days I prefer the solitude of attending mass alone in a church that is more traditional and plays organ music.
Last spring I attended a conference. The keynote speaker talked about change. He said people always say that change is hard, but that wasn’t accurate. It isn’t the change that’s hard, it’s the journey through that is difficult. In fact, he said, once we get to where change is, we are usually pretty happy. Food for thought. Perhaps a good first new message for me. I guess it comes down to two choices: either I want to change or I don’t. If I want to change, it will require all the things described. If I don’t, that’s okay too, as long as I accept who I am.