On the first day of a new year, when many people are setting goals for the next 365 days of their life, I am considering some procrastination advice from a Carnegie Mellon professor. Among the many morsels of wisdom that can be found in Randy Pausch’s book, The Last Lecture, I was surprised by one unusual recommendation. Instead of encouraging the reader not to put off until tomorrow what can be accomplished today, he actually gives convincing reasons for procrastinating — at least in one particular area of life.
His advice? Don’t make any decisions until you have to.
I have been thinking about that a lot lately, wondering if there is real wisdom in it or not. Since I tend not to be a procrastinator, it is difficult for me to grasp the possibility that putting something off may be a wise move. Yet, I can see where making a decision before you really need to make a decision may not yield the best decision.
For example, if you are frustrated with your job, it is unwise to quit before having another job lined up. Otherwise, you may end up experiencing something worse than frustration — namely hunger and homelessness.
As I consider this, Randy’s advice must surely be meant for the big decisions in life. When it comes to making decisions pertaining to careers, relationships, dreams and goals, it makes sense to wait until all the information is in, or wait until the fork in the road is directly in front of you, before deciding which path to take. However, when it comes to the small decisions, such as what to eat for breakfast, I am not going to procrastinate.
I am still going to plan ahead of time, do my shopping ahead of time, and prepare my food ahead of time, to make sure my body receives the proper fuel for the most important meal of the day. That way, when I do come to a big decision fork in the road, my brain might actually be capable of making a wise decision, instead of tossing all sanity aside and simply choosing the shortest path to a protein source.