I’m not talking about failure in a big way, but failure in terms of petty little tasks. I may make plans to do something that I haven’t done before – like fit a lock to my garden gate – that I should be totally capable of doing. But something nags me in the back of my mind – what if I run into problems? How will I cope? So I put off the task, rather than discover if I can do it (or do it well).
Here’s a current example. I have a brilliant mattress, which I bought 4 years ago. It is a mixed density foam mattress – high density at the core, but with softer layers, and memory foam on top. It has really helped with my lower back problems, and it weighs a ton (well, just over 60lb) if I need to move it. Yes, ironic, isn’t it?
Over the years, it has acquired stains. It is not badly soiled, I am talking about normal sweat stains, a couple of spots of blood from wounds (which I have cleaned, but marks remain anyway), and at least one mug of tea. It doesn’t bother me at all to sleep on it (after all, it is covered in a sheet), but whenever I change the bed, the appearance irks me. I know it isn’t dirty, but it kind of looks like it is.
The thing is, the whole mattress is enveloped in a cover, with a zip on 3 sides. So I could take the whole cover off, right? But despite wanting to do so for over a year, I haven’t. For reasons:
- Will the mattress fall apart if I remove the cover.
- Will I be able to get the cover off?
- Will the mattress itself not be equally stained?
- How will I launder something the size of the mattress cover?
- What will I sleep on while the cover is being laundered/dried?
- Will I be able to get the cover back on again?
If you are paying attention, you will see that all of these are questions that can be answered by doing the darned job. But instead, I put it off for a year.
This week, I finally pushed myself into doing the job. Getting the cover off proved to be a pain; getting it half off was fine, but I discovered that my method of moving the mattress around – slip/sliding it on the bed – failed once the foam was exposed. Rather than sliding nicely (due to the cotton cover), the foam was immobile on the slats of the bed. So the only way to move it was physically lift it. What a workout! But I was pleased to see the foam underneath was stain free.
I made up the bed with an old duvet as a protector, with a fitted sheet over it; that bit proved easy and comfortable. Then I took the cover (which also weighed quite a bit) to the local dry cleaners. Taking their advice to launder it, rather than dry clean, I left it with them, and picked it up yesterday.
A year’s procrastination. but it was not over yet. Did I get home and put the cover on? Of course not! Because not attempting to do so was easier than possibly finding out I couldn’t manage it on my own!
So, a day later, I just finished doing it, and it probably took me an hour or so to do it. But it is done. As for my fears that the cover might shrink, or not go back on the mattress, they were completely unfounded – it was a pretty easy fit. Getting it on was an absolute pain, due to the weight of the mattress, but otherwise perfectly doable.
Now on the bed, the cover isn’t completely mark free (I was told that this would probably be the case), but all the sweat stains are gone, and it looks and smells wonderful.
The moral to the story? That putting off a job is far more wasteful of time than actually getting around to it. And even if you do fail, it allows you to move on with alternative plans to solve the problem.
I might look at the garden gate tomorrow.