Managing my disease of lateness

My own father, a person who’s known me longer than I’ve known myself sent me a link to a BBC article on chronic tardiness. Well, I have to say it was on-point with some of the major low-blows, but not all of them.

It suggested people are late because they are avoiding something. I’m usually not late because of nervous as the author guessed is most common – in fact if I DON’T want to go or nervous, I’m much more careful about prepping myself, planning a clean outfit and physicking up my mind and I am usually on time.
But I’m not late because I don’t want to be someplace, often it’s place I really WANT to be I treat with such callous disregard for the formality of being ‘on time.’ I like the feeling of people missing me, so getting the text ‘hey where are you’ feels affirming that they people are thinking of me and I’m important. Someone cares about my whereabouts or a party is happening and I’m actually missed. For this reason more than others, I’m often late by nearly the exact time it takes to travel from my home to my destination, be it 5 mins or 45 mins. If the party starts at 7:00 – I LEAVE at 7:00.

I agree with the person featured in the article who likes the near adrenalin rush feelings that surge when you cut it close … it’s like adding a little thrill into your day. I have to admit I love beating the Google Map time estimator – I do that nearly ever time the last few years even to places I don’t need to map. Even to my fathers house. I’ll check as I turn on the ignition ‘oh Google says 21 mins… I’ll see about THAT! Challenge accepted” (in my best Barney Stinson voice)

There is a study that says various personality types, such as the typical creative “Type Bs” have a different sense of time. When asked to guess when a minute has passed, these creative called time at 77 seconds. That’s possible in my case, I wanted to finish a show before I went to an event the other day thinking “I’ll watch 10 more minutes” – I watched another 35 mins and was late.

What lacked in this article is suggestions on solutions for these ailments of tardiness running through the veins of so many. Shall we not address the elephant in the room, that first, it probably points to most of us being over-scheduled and too busy. And the western obsession with time is very unlike our Central and Southern American counterparts. However for the sake of brevity, let’s put this more challenging point aside.

Until the clock tells me I’m undeniably behind expectations, usually an event has already started – I feel no compulsion to move, leave or speed my getting ready process. I most often going to take action on anything in my life, when the feeling of being externally obliged to something or someone kicks in. This is congruent with the author of the BBC article finding that people lack motivation need a fire to change. I’d like to correlate it further, a book called “Better Than Before” by author Gretchen Rubin describes what she called the Four Tendencies, or four major motivational profiles, some internal or self motivated.. and I fall firmly into the other or externally motivated “Obliger” she calls it. When I feel obliged to an external source I’ll be able to achieve anything… until then, I toss my hands up and say “awe who cares?!”

Even good things can come of an obliged feeling, duty bound – dare I say even guilt trip’d by those you love so they can air expectations between friends and family who seem to need timeliness for their sanity.

In Rubin’s matrix, the Upholder types will do well to simply be on time, but for us Obligers, we need to sitting with the weight of the empathic stress of disrespect we can cause others. This heaviness has helped me improve the gap in event start vs my arrival time. But it hasn’t completely cured the problem.

The other half of the problem is others expectation of what ‘on time’ means from me. This too can be addressed as the part of the equation of a behavior change. What if I told your work might be more flexible than you think, let them know you do better to work on your projects in a 10am-6pm work day – would they let you? Maybe! They did for me. Or give your friends permission start the fun without you, and yes, you WOULD appreciate that reminder text as they get started. And you’ll text right back ‘THX, en route! xox’ when you’re really just putting your shoes on. No one need get angry. Maybe the person who arrives latest to dinner parties should be host once in a while … they’ll be they’re when the party arrives at their doorstep in a timely manner.

Articles like that written for the BBC are probably click bait for the on-time crowd to brow beat the rest of us. Chronically late people don’t have a disease to be cured, but symptoms can be treated with some degree of remission – the real lifelong prognosis is mostly that of pain management.

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