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By Definition, I’m a Procrastinator

By Col. Nicole Malachowski USAF (Ret.) – First Woman Thunderbird Pilot, Combat Veteran, Fighter Squadron Commander, White House Fellow & Adviser, and Indomitable Spirit

Col. Nicole Malachowski, leadership & motivational speaker at The Sweeney Agency Speakers Bureau

By definition, I’m a procrastinator. I’ve been this way for as long as I can remember. Yet, I consider myself a successful person, personally and professionally. Every article I’ve ever read, every class I’ve ever taken, and every mentor I’ve ever listened to, will tell you that procrastination is a negative trait. To the vast majority out there, procrastination is a problem to be solved, a trait to be fixed, or a flaw to be stopped. A procrastinator is described as “someone who unnecessarily delays decisions or actions.” Research points to the negative outcomes of procrastination: undue stress, lower productivity, worse overall performance, and low self-esteem, amongst others.

This is going to be controversial, but here goes…

I certainly don’t recommend procrastinating to everyone, especially if it’s leading you to experience the negative results described above. A lot of really smart academics and psychologists have beautifully explained why it’s not the best course of action for the majority of people. I spent years feeling deeply flawed as an admitted procrastinator; countless time reading self-help books, devouring articles, and listening to thought leaders, on why I needed to change this ‘bad’ habit. I’ve tried it all: charting interim steps, having shorter term deadlines, scheduling tasks, accountability partners, etc. When I do these things, I feel like I’m in some forced labor or false reality. It feels like I’m not being me. And all of it (I mean all of it), adds to my stress, leads to less innovative work, and results in lower performance.

Here is my truth: I’m 47 years old and I’ve learned that procrastinating (as defined by the literature) results in higher performance, job satisfaction, and mental health for me. No, it doesn’t work for most people and I certainly am not recommending it. But, I do recommend self-awareness. So, I did some research to better understand what draws some people towards procrastination. I found one explanation that resonated with me: “Procrastinators tend to have brain structures that make them less future-oriented, which means they are more focused on the present than on the future compared to non-procrastinators” (solvingprocrastination.com/procrastinator/)

I’m no scientist or academic, but I think by being present, I’m actually subconsciously still processing the ‘to-do’ list and creating solutions. So, when the time comes to execute, I’m fully present in the task at hand and I produce consistent positive results every time. Being present is my super-power. If it’s working…you do you.

About Col. Nicole Malachowski

Col. Nicole Malachowski (USAF, Ret.) defies stereotypes. Yes, she was a jet fighter pilot, but if you think you know her based on that, you’d be wrong. A leader, a combat veteran, the first woman pilot on the Thunderbirds Air Demonstration Squadron, a White House Fellow, and an inductee into both the National Women’s Hall of Fame and the Women in Aviation International Pioneer Hall of Fame, Nicole’s distinguished 21-year Air Force career exceeded her wildest dreams. But the dream came to an end when a devastating tick-borne illness left her struggling greatly to speak or walk for almost nine months. An indomitable spirit, Nicole fought back against overwhelming odds and prevailed. Drawing on stories from her career and personal life, Nicole inspires audiences to rethink the challenges they face every day. She urges them to go beyond resilience and become resurgent.

To learn more about Col. Nicole Malachowski contact [email protected]

Derek Sweeney is the Director of Speaker Ideas at The Sweeney Agency  www.thesweeneyagency.com. For 15 years Derek has been helping clients find the right Speakers for their events. Derek can be reached at 1-866-727-7555 or [email protected]