Opinion: A disease worse than cancer… and most of us have got it!

by Uwa Odefa

Now do you see why I speak about procrastination as a deadly disease? It eats away at you slowly and for the unobservant, you wake up one day when you’re 50 years old and ask yourself what you’ve done with a lifetime?

I have been walking around for the past few months with the weight of the world’s problems on my shoulders.Or what feels like it! It’s this disease I’ve got that’s plaguing me and hindering my progress. And it’s killing me softly and silently! Bet you’re sitting at the edge of your seat with bated breath waiting to read what horrible disease it is that I’ve got! This disease is a big one and it’s deadlier, in some regard, than cancer. Truth be told, you have it, too! Yes, you! Do I hear “God forbid”? He forbade it ages ago but we, who have been careless and have not heeded the word of the Lord are plagued by this disease.

This deadly disease that we (you and I) suffer from is PROCRASTINATION! Do I hear you heave a sigh of relief? Do not oh! It’s a serious problem! If you do not think so, how come you’re way behind on all those dreams and ambitions? How come you’ve done nothing about that wonderful idea that the good Lord has blessed you with? How come you keep postponing actions for today till tomorrow until it’s too late? How come you look back and mutter to yourself “If only…”? Why do you sometimes lie awake at night lamenting at how life seems to be passing you by? Let me give you one answer that addresses all these questions and some others I do not remember; it is because you are afflicted with the spirit of PROCASTINATION! Now let’s begin to cast it out!

On a more serious note, this is something we are all guilty of. Psychologists say that when you engage in a counterproductive, needless and delaying activity or inactivity then you are procrastinating. Personally, I’m tired of talking about my lofty plans, dreams and ambition! I’m tired of running around in circles and achieving nothing (for the most part!) I’m tired of waking up everyday to see my dreams materializing but being anchored by someone other than me! I’m tired of saying to myself; “I will start tomorrow”, “I will go there tomorrow”, “I will do it tomorrow”! What if tomorrow does not come? All those ambitions; poof! Gone with the wind! The hopes and dreams! Maybe not entirely gone with the wind; God will simply bless some other Nigerian with those ideas and hopefully that person will run with it.

My friend Lola had the dream of a crèche. Actually had a location in sight but she kept putting it off with excuses and voila! One day, she woke up and there was a crèche located at precisely one of the buildings she had admired as a suitable location. Another friend had a dream, today the dream is a reality in the form of Ice Cream Factory in highbrow V.I. but guess what? It’s not owned by my friend. We think we are so smart with all the revolutionary ideas. There are others with the exact same idea as you. It’s a race, so start sprinting!

Are you thinking, I must add another degree to my B.Sc but there’s no money? There’s never enough money. Scrape, scrimp, save and as Nike (the sporting goods label not the Yoruba girl) would say: Just Do It! There are a lots of information swimming in cyber space about scholarships (especially for women), student loans etc. So what are you waiting for? More to the point, what am I waiting for?!

Wake up! How old are you? What have you got to show for your time here so far? Do you think you’ve done enough? We can never have done enough! That’s why we’re still here! Today is a gift from God to make the world a better place for you, for someone or for some people. It’s not for us to preen and pamper ourselves alone (some days we need the preening and the pampering, but certainly not a lifetime of underachievement!)

For the past few weeks, maybe months, I’ve been thinking about all the great ideas I have and have had (and mostly lucrative ones, too! I am, after all, an Igbo girl!) And I wonder why I have not acted on a single one of them! Not one! Of course I’m smart enough to come up with wonderful, believable and excusable excuses to excuse my inaction! (Grammar! Do I really need more education?!). But that’s all they really are; excuses! There’s no money (the usual culprit!) There’s no time (culprit number 2) What if I fail? (Fear! The greatest crippler of dreams!)The Nigerian economy cripples new ideas (this is fast becoming culprit number one!)

Hello! People come up with new ideas everyday and they thrive! I have decided to quit deceiving myself, get off my Chinese butt and actually DO something instead of just thinking about it. I’m sure by now with all the thinking, I must have thought things through! All I need to do now is speak to people who will contribute positively to my ideas; who will advise me with the fear of God in their hearts and not people who will have nothing positive to say and
effectively kill my dreams. Then I’ll just do it! And if I fail, well, at least I tried so one of my regrets will not be; “If only I had tried!”

Have you seen a forty year old individual with broken dreams and unrealised aspirations? They look like the living dead; just existing but not really living. They are so bitter and angry with the world. They taint everything and everyone around them with their bitterness and kill the natural empathy and
support they would have garnered from those around them.

Now do you see why I speak about procrastination as a deadly disease? It eats away at you slowly and for the unobservant, you wake up one day when you’re 50 years old and ask yourself what you’ve done with a lifetime? Let’s rid ourselves of this disease before it’s too late. The only time it’s late is when we’re at our deathbeds. This means even if you are fifty, you can reach into your heart and dust off those ideas! Yes you can! You’re never too old to start over. Anyone who tells you different knows nothing at all!

I hope you will take my cue and join me in taking a step toward further self-fulfilment. A fulfilled citizen makes for a fulfilled nation and that’s my goal. I hope you are already psychologically psyched (forget the grammar!) to start refurbishing those ideas and take action today!

Have a wonderful week and ensure that at the end of this week, you can look back without muttering “If only…”



Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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Comments (8)

  1. Thanks.glad am young,time in my hands to take action.

  2. Good message headlines, however:

    1) Who told you that there's a difference ingrained in you just by being an "Ibo girl". That's part of Nigeria's problems, seeing things from tribal lenses.

    2) I am a forty year old person with broken dreams and unrealised aspirations as you specifically mentioned.

    I'm not a living dead. I am very angry with the many cruel and self-centered people I've met in this country who took my honesty for naivety and proceeded to cheat me; but I'm not angry with the world. I love life. The concepts you expound here are carry over concepts from a place of opportunities where the system is fair to all. If you think that's the case with your country, you're sorely missing the point and you better thank God for your good luck. People are hurting in this country and it is so sad that if you do not become a "success", you will never be excused: it is immediately your fault. This is why good or bad is of little value in this country because everyone realises they must "make it" or be damned. I have been damned. But my friend, I'm at peace with myself. I know I did my part in what was supposed to be my contract with society. But I also value morality: the concept of universal right and wrong matters a great deal to me and Nigeria is not a place to have such values.

    Procrastination is the thief of ambition, but hey don't go too far or you could shoot yourself in the foot.


  3. Awesome piece ! How I wish I have seen this write-up a long time ago. Thanks a whole lot.

  4. Beautiful piece!

  5. procrastination is the grave which opportunity is buried…make a start 2day nd u wil certinly hav a rest 2moro whn your mate wil start.

  6. God bess you sister. I'm with you on this one. Done waiting on the sidelines. Let's get in the fray.

  7. Am a victim on this one. I guess am psyched(using ur gram)thanks . Am fighting it hence forth.

cool good eh love2 cute confused notgood numb disgusting fail