Action, reaction. ‘Act fast, be quick, buy now, act now’. We’re often motivated to be in a hurry. At the end of the year we ask ourselves: If not now when? But is it really that bad to postpone or wait for a bit before acting? Of course it isn’t. Sometimes it’s even better to postpone your actions, your words, your decisions. So count to ten, sleep on it, wait.


When you let a problem be what it is for a while, amazing things can happen. Unexpected solutions may appear or the reasons behind your problem may turn out to be something you hadn’t expected at first. Time solves and time heals. So let it be, for now.

In Western culture we tend to be eager and passionate to achieve as much as possible, as soon as possible. We often think linear: we need to move from point A to B and we need to do it fast. Getting your degree (preferably with some amazing grades alongside some extracurricular activities…) getting a salary raise, building your career (alongside your amazing family-life of course…), becoming fit, becoming the next new talent at something, buying that perfect family house… We desire so much and we want it all as soon as possible.

We want it all and we want it now. Really, there’s nothing wrong with instant gratification, of course you WANT what you want. But what happens if you wait?

What on earth could ‘laziness’ or ‘time-wasting’ bring us? Well, let’s learn from some ancient Eastern masters of procrastination. In the philosophy of Taoism, Wu wei, Chinese for ‘doing nothing’, is a central concept. Doing nothing may sound like an easy fix to run away from your responsibilities/problems, but actually it’s the opposite. Wu wei is like acting from a flow state of mind. It’s action that feels so natural that is becomes effortless. Wu wei actions are like water. They stream without effort.

“Do you have the patience to wait until your mud settles and the water is clear?” – Lao Tzu

Now, I don’t want to get too far-fetched here. I am not a zen master but a normal human being, imperfect and filled with emotions. And yes, everything can get very shitty, chaotic and weirdly saddening sometimes. We’ve all been there, haven’t you? Still, we can learn a lot from the Taoist practices. I hope you’re approaching 2017 full of new ideas, plans and dreams, but maybe you’re like me, a bit confused and lost about your desires. In both cases, Wu wei can help us to stay patient and calm. It will get difficult, always. We always need to recapture an essence of ease, Wu wei can help us find it.

I have no idea what I am going to do next to be honest. Continue at art school, quit art school to start at university, quit altogether with education for a bit to go my own way… There are many options and I have no idea what to do. Through the ideas of Taoist philosophy, I allow myself to postpone my decisions and my anxiety towards my own doubt. I wait and see. Yep, it’s a bit difficult to hold it all back, but eventually it will pay off.

Nature teaches us what patience and letting things be can bring us.

A tree doesn’t grow in a day, a truly good meal needs time to simmer on the stove and we ourselves, need to grow for nine months before we show up in the world. We need to be able to wait for good things to grow. So hold on just a little longer. What to do if I don’t know what to do? Nothing. Not yet. Daydream and don’t push. It will be done, in its own right time. And when everything is suddenly turned upside down in a positive way (say you got an amazing salary raise) and you really want to act (spend your money on some splendid luxury), also wait. Sit on your success. We all want instant gratification, yes. But remember this, if you leave something for some time, it becomes even better.

When you postpone your (re)action, you’ll pick your words better, spend your money more sensitively and do your work with more ease and joy.

Of course, Wu wei isn’t an excuse to do nothing all the time. When you look critically at the reasons behind your (non-)actions, you KNOW when you procrastinate in a positive or not. You know it. Don’t be too strict on yourself but keep your integrity close.

Sense your feelings before you react. Feel the happiness, pride, doubt or sorrow.
You can’t wait forever, but for now you can. For now, you may. Give yourself the permission.
Procrastinate, postpone and wait. Watch the magic happen before your eyes.
The best action is sometimes not to act. Not yet.

Playlist: Slow Down, Douwe Bob.
Do it for the joy, not for the result. Let’s end 2016 slowly.
Not persistence but acceptance.

Become a member for even more inspiration!
Free of charge and full of joy, for you.

Can you try to  procrastinate in a positive way this week? Postpone your reactions when someone says something and wait when you’re about to do something; go slow. Let’s end 2016 slow and easy.

  • Marina

    Yes, nice one. Ik voel me vaak gehaast alsof ik de boot mis, dit is een goede reminder!

Leave a Comment


Let's talk! I will email you back as soon as possible.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt

Start typing and press Enter to search