Procrastination = Self-Torture: Don’t do it!

Don't just think about it - do something!

Don’t just think about it – do something!

On holidays in Portugal, I brought two kids to the local water park – my daughter Nicole and Linda’s niece – Lauren. We found a parking spot for our towels, under the shade of a huge Pine tree. It was the only way to avoid becoming spot-welded to the grass in the intense heat. As I was unpacking my novel, Lauren, a great kid who never asks for anything, said:

“I’d love to go on that roller coaster.” Fine by me. If she wanted to risk her young life, who was I to intervene?

“OK Lauren.  That’s grand. I’ll go over and meet you at the end.” She stood, staring:

“But, I can’t go on it on my own!”

“Eh, why not?”

“Nobody goes on a roller coaster on their own. You’d look like a loser.”

 Plan B began to quickly form in my mind.

 “OK, Nicole, you’re on duty. Both of you can go on the roller coaster. Problem sorted. I’ll stay here and mind the bags.” (in case anyone tried to steal my Factor 75 sunscreen or Dolphin beach towel).

“No way. I’m not going on it unless you get on it too.” (this from my cheeky daughter).

“Now girls, this is ridiculous. Of course you can go on your own. You are not little children anymore” (hoping to guilt them into leaving me out of the equation). And then, as a kicker: “You’ll be grand. I trust both of you. 100%.”

“But why won’t you try it?” (Lauren, unconvinced, that this was a genuine effort to ‘empower the children’).

“Because he’s a complete Chicken” (Nicole, sensing bullshit).

“No, I’m not. I’m just a bit tired. It’s probably all the driving.”

“Chicken.” (Nicole)

“Big Scary Chicken.” (Lauren).

Pre-Death: 15 minutes later, as we near the top of the queue, I’m starting to feel like an inmate on Death Row who’s lost a last minute appeal for a stay of execution. We get strapped in so tight, it feels like a total body blood pressure check. Then we start the agonizingly slow climb to the top of the rail. One Mammy, in the seat in front of us, starts some low volume screaming in anticipation of what lies ahead.  We climbed so high, I could almost see the Bailey Lighthouse in the distance (just over 1,000 miles, slightly north east). That image lasted for about .7 seconds. Then, Lamb of Jesus, the descent. The kids were laughing their heads off while I’m gripping the safety bar tighter than an epileptic pole dancer. Despite rumours to the contrary, I certainly was not crying. There’s quite a lot of dust in the atmosphere at that altitude and I have sensitive eyes. Three climbs and descents later (into water and into a pitch black tunnel) and it was over.

Way Out: On the way out, I walked past a ton of nervous mums/dads on the queue. I had a slight swagger and was trying to make eye contact to communicate: “You’ve no idea what’s at the top of that line”. Ah, yes, superiority. A thing of beauty. I wanted to boast: “I survived the Roller Coaster” but it’s impossible to find a T-Shirt stall selling customized slogans when you need one.

Executive Coaching: In the Executive Coaching arena, I encounter a range of personal issues. Facing their worst fear, confronting something that really bothers them, makes clients feel good about themselves. Bravery is not the absence of fear, but the will to acknowledge and confront it.  In marked contrast, sometimes clients decide not to do something. They make a conscious decision to walk away from a relationship or a work-related issue, to mentally erase this from their worry list.  Surprisingly, both strategies (confront or decide not to confront) can work well. The killer position is to remain in the ‘don’t know’ space. Sometimes for years.

Procrastination is a form of self-torture. Don’t do it to yourself.  Get on that roller coaster or walk away.  Just don’t stand underneath listening. Because, the only screams you hear will be your own.

Paul Mooney

PS:   Wonder where Lauren will be going on holidays next year?

PPS Lighter Moment: Why Men Shouldn’t Write Advice Columns (courtesy of John McGlynn).

Dear Tom,

I hope you can help me. The other day I set off for work, leaving my husband in the house watching TV. My car stalled and then it broke down about a mile down the road. I had to walk back to get my husband’s help. When I got home, I couldn’t believe my eyes. He was in our bedroom with the neighbour’s daughter!  I’m 32, my husband is 34 and she is 19. We’ve been married for 10 years. When I confronted him, he broke down and admitted they have been having an affair for the past 6 months. He won’t go to counseling and I’m afraid that we will not be able to get over this. I am a wreck and need advice urgently. Can you please help?



Dear Sheila,

A car stalling after being driven for a short distance can be caused by a variety of faults. Start by checking that there is no debris in the fuel line. If it is clear, check the vacuum pipes and hoses on the intake manifold and also the grounding wires. If none of these approaches solves the problem, it could be that the fuel pump itself is faulty – causing low delivery pressure to the injectors.

I hope this helps.


Check our website or call 087 2439019 for an informal discussion about executive or organization development.


About Tandem Consulting

Paul Mooney holds a Ph.D. and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Industrial Sociology from Trinity College, along with a National Diploma in Industrial Relations (NCI). He has a post-Graduate Diploma and a Masters in Coaching from UCD. Paul, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, is widely recognised as an expert on organisation and individual change. He began his working life as a butcher in Dublin before moving into production management. He subsequently held a number of human resource positions in Ireland and Asia - with General Electric and Sterling Drug. Between 2007 and 2010, Paul held the position of President, National College of Ireland. Paul is currently Managing Partner of Tandem Consulting, a team of senior OD and change specialists. He has run consulting assignments in 20+ countries and is the author of 12 books. Areas of expertise include: • Organisational Development/Change & conflict resolution • Leadership Development/Executive Coaching • Human Resource Management/employee engagement
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3 Responses to Procrastination = Self-Torture: Don’t do it!

  1. Brilliant post, Paul. Your holiday has obviously done you the world of good. I love the image of not standing under the roller coaster listening to the screams. Genius.

    I reckon I spent the last 10 years of my career as an employee doing just that, trying to summon up courage to get into the thing and put my safety belt on (ie go self employed).

  2. L mc Givern says:

    Good stuff Paul .I hope with the near death experience aside you and family had a good holiday. Talk soon

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