I’m a procrastinator. The clutter on my desk right now illustrates that fact. I know that I could, right now, stop typing, and clean it up. It would only take a couple of minutes, and even though I know I’d be happier, I’m still typing. I’m not going to tidy up is that the risk of my inaction is pretty small. After lunch, I’ll have a moment of regret when I come back, but that’s all it will be. The stapler can remain upside down, and the notes from my last meeting can stay in a pile underneath my not-quite-ripe-enough banana. It’s OK.
We’ve all experienced regret. My messy desk is not much of an example of that. Not being there when my mom passed, well, that’s a different matter. I have to live with that forever — the conversations we didn’t have; the questions about our family that will remain unanswered. I also have to live with how she never nailed down how she wanted her possessions divided between my siblings and me. In that case, not only do I have to live with the regret but now the animosity between my sister and me after she cleaned out Mom’s house, just hours after her death.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, so decide you’re going to take one step today…
Putting things off is human nature. My mom put off her legacy planning for 80 years. She was strong and healthy. Her mind was sharp, and she exercised every day. When times are good, it’s hard to prioritize the planning of your demise. However, that’s precisely when you should do it.
All I’ve done so far is pile onto your anxiety. Maybe that was my intention, but I do have some useful advice. First, accept the fact that we put things off, even at the risk of great regret and our peace of mind. Next, realize Rome wasn’t built in a day, so decide you’re going to take one step today, towards resolving one of the things you’ve been procrastinating. It might be something small like tidying your desk. It might be taking your car in for an oil change. Or, think about the joy you’d feel if you had done legacy planning for yourself, your family, and older relatives.
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An interesting article by Niklas Göke on the subject of regret may be found here:
*”Failure is never quite as frightening as regret” is a quote from the 2000 Warner Bros. film “The Dish”