Dilly-dallying: when I know what I want to do, but I’m not really doing it yet, for no good reason. AKA lollygag.
Dilly-dallying is a result of not feeling urgency. Sometimes urgency comes in the form of a deadline. Sometimes it comes in the form of a fear of failure. On the other hand, once in a while, urgency comes in the form of inspiration. The creative process is highly urgent, and if I find myself dilly-dallying it’s usually because I like the idea of something, perhaps the idea of it being done, but the inspiration to actually build it or do it is lacking.
How not to stop dilly-dallying
- Berate myself for dilly-dallying
- Distract myself from what was distracting me before with another distraction
- Get depressed cause I can never get anything done
Why is dilly-dallying such a tempting vortex for me?
While dilly-dallying doesn’t get anything done, it doesn’t not get anything done either. I could stop dilly-dallying at any point and then I’d be out of the gates towards my goal. I’m just not doing it yet. But I could. Now. Or now. Or now. But until then, dilly-dallying is like a nice little nap before going out. It doesn’t take energy, and it doesn’t hurt anything too much.
What’s not to enjoy about dilly-dallying?
Despite the comfort factor of dilly-dallying, it is not a truly enjoyable past-time. In fact, it slowly eats at my self-confidence and sense of purpose. It is enjoyable in the sense that it is not painful, but it is not rewarding in itself. Enjoyment as lack of unenjoyment is the lowest form of enjoyment.
Suggestions to combat the dilly-dally urge
Not all dilly-dally remedies are created equal. As mentioned above, deadlines and fear, while they can cure the common dilly-dally urge, aren’t necessarily gonna produce the same quality of action as creative inspiration will.
Here are some things that help me get off my lazy ass when I find myself dilly-dallying too long:
Look for a short-term reward in the thing you’re avoiding. For example, if you want to build a yacht, cut down those trees with style. Work on your form, enjoy the swing, breath in the air, and inject meaning into the tiniest little task. Pretend that this is the opening scene of a movie, hinting at all that is to come. Finding the meaning and beauty in the current task, rather than focusing all of your attention on the completed task, is the key to building something that as a whole has meaning, attention to detail, and beauty.
Take an irreversible step. I like to hedge my bets and always leave an escape hatch. But escape hatches promote dilly-dallying. An irreversible step, like paying for the yoga retreat months in advance, will help motivate and inspire me to be all in with my 2-3 times a week yoga classes. Irreversible steps seem unwise on the surface since they are unnecessarily limiting my options rather than expanding them, but I work well within the confines of limited options. I can make the best of a single option a lot easier than trying to make the best of multiple options.
This is an open theory. What do you think about dilly-dallying?