Feeling Lazy? Here are 4 ways out of the funk

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 “UGH”

A very quick preview of what comes up on a web search is very revealing. Start to type in the words “how to stop” and guess what comes up in auto-fill? Usually “being lazy” and “procrastinating” are near the top of the search results.

One good takeaway from that is knowing that if you are struggling with feeling lazy, you are far from alone.

Apparently, millions of other people are having the same problem. In today’s hectic, fast-paced world, our plates are overflowing with to-do lists, meetings, obligations, and of course, the ever-present smartphone continually buzzing out notifications.

It’s enough to make you just want to forget it all and go take a nap. Since that isn’t usually possible, apathy can set in, and minds can stubbornly just refuse to cooperate with that inner voice saying “get more done!”

When that happens, we feel lazy. Indifferent. Passive. And weary, oh so weary. Our goals end up getting short shrift in while we are drowning in minutiae – that state where we just put off things that are important because of…

“The tyranny of the urgent.”

This is a phrase coined by Charles Hummel in 1967.

So fifty years ago, people were struggling with this dilemma, and this was in an era free of smartphones, texting, emails, and the resulting suffocating feeling of being “on call” 24/7.

We all want to know how to overcome laziness and get things done, so let’s figure out how.

1. Are you truly lazy?

No, really – this is a serious question. Plenty of people think they are “lazy” when in fact they just feel guilty about not getting more accomplished. It’s possible that you are not lazy at all, and in fact just a perfectionist. And perfectionists rarely think they are accomplishing enough, if ever.

If you’re a perfectionist, then you likely won’t ever feel like what you do is enough. Or good enough, for that matter. Give yourself a break.

Another thing to consider: you’re not lazy if you truly have too much on your schedule. You have 24 hours a day, or more likely 16, if you manage to get 8 hours of sleep a night. There is only so much one can accomplish in that time, given that you also have to eat, take bathroom breaks, wait in lines, possibly commute to work, and so on.

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If you are kicking yourself because you aren’t working out enough, yet you also have a demanding job, a spouse, 3 kids, and a mortgage to pay – you aren’t lazy. You have a scheduling challenge.

In order to determine how best to define your problem, you have to establish what it actually is. A litmus test for this is to take a typical week in your life – making no radical changes – and track it.

There are several time tracking apps and sites that can do the heavy lifting for you. Just pick one, any one of them – and start tracking.

After the week has passed, take some time to review the results:

  • If you see that your time was jam-packed with activity – work, eating, exercise, etc. – and you just aren’t getting to your dream goals, like say, working on a novel – you don’t have a problem with laziness. You just need to tweak your schedule.
  • If your time tracking reveals that you are putting in hours, but not accomplishing as much as reasonably possible (“reasonably” is the important word here), then you could probably use a tune-up on self-discipline.

2. Don’t count on “the right mood” (hint: there isn’t one)

The number one, unquestionable habit of people who are highly successful, is this: they never, ever wait until they “feel like it” to get something accomplished. If you are waiting for just the right mood to come wafting by, you will be waiting a long time. Possibly forever.

Moods are funny things. They are unpredictable, testy, fickle, and most of all, hard to pin down. You might as well try to throw yourself on a wave in the ocean and hold it down. It’s not going to happen. Waiting to do something until you “feel like it” is a recipe for failure.

3. Drop the excuses

George Washington Carver, a man who clearly did not make excuses (he invented hundreds of uses for peanuts), said “Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.”

What are some of the most common excuses people make?

 

  • “I’m too tired”
  • “I don’t have enough time”
  • “It’s too late”
  • “ It’s too hard”
  • “I can start later”
  • “I need more money”
  • “I’m too old”
  • “I’m too young”
  • “I’m too fat”
  • “I’m too scrawny”
  • “I’m not smart enough”
  • “I’m too busy”
  • “I don’t know how”
  • “I might fail”
  • “I’ll do it when the kids are in school”
  • “I’ll do it when the kids graduate from school”
  • “It’s not the right time”
  • “I’m waiting for ___ to happen”

 

Surely some of these sound very familiar. Don’t beat on yourself if you’ve made some of these excuses, everyone has. It’s part of the human condition.

Cave men, if they could talk, probably said they were too tired to go out hunting and gathering.

The difference was, they had no choice. It was hunt and gather, or starve to death.

Given that in our gilded age of excess, we typically won’t starve if we put off a goal, so we tend to lack the appropriate motivation. If we were facing starvation, or had a charging rhinoceros behind us, it’s guaranteed we would get up and get going. Fast.

The solution? Find something that motivates you.


4.Finding motivation

Motivation is the carrot that propels the donkey to keep plodding along, he wants that carrot!  What is your “carrot?”

  • Fear – probably the strongest motivator out there. Remember the rhinoceros scenario? Being motivated by fear means you are scared of possible negative or painful consequences.
  • Self-improvement – if you have a fire inside yourself, eager to achieve greater knowledge, power, and personal growth, then you are motivated by the desire to become a better version of yourself.
  • Connection – an inner longing to connect and bond with others is a very powerful motivator. This goes hand-in-hand with the need for acceptance.
  • Helping – the aspiration to contribute to others – or society in general – is a motivation based on wanting to “make a difference.”
  • Power – this can be based on a couple of things: wanting to control others in some way, or just have personal autonomy (in other words, not needing others to help). The desire to take the wheel of control in our own lives is another aspect of this.
  • Rewards – if you get stars in your eyes and a flutter in your heart over the idea of making a ton of money, then you are motivated by rewards. Of course, you could also just want outside validation, not money, as a reward, Either way, you are motivated by the idea of gaining something.


Think of motivation as fuel for your tank
– just like your car requires gasoline in order to move, and your body requires food in order to survive. Motivation is really no different – it is simply the fuel that gets you from where you are now, to where you want to be.

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No more self-sabotage!

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We human beings are quirky. We are endowed with several wonderful qualities, such as the ability to communicate, love, dream, and find courage in the face of daunting circumstances.

 

We also have quite the tendency to self-sabotage, often right on the cusp of success. Why is this? Why would we knowingly, purposely quit, give up, cry uncle, back out, and buckle under just when success is within our grasp?

 

It’s a brain thing. Call it a minor malfunction or glitch, if you will. Our mind can trip us up far more than anyone, or anything else in this world. It whispers into your subconscious sneaky lies such as:

 

  • You can’t really do this.
  • You don’t deserve this.
  • Eh, you don’t really, truly want this.
  • Even if you make it, it won’t last
  • This is boring. Let’s screw this up.
  • Hey, look over there – something shiny!

 

You’d think your own brain would be your friend, but apparently it has other ideas about your dreams and goals. The mind seems to be kind of a prankster, actually. So if you are serious about accomplishing something, and don’t want your meddling mind getting in the way – you need to trick it right back.


Strategies to strengthen perseverance

 

“Perseverance, secret of all triumphs” – Victor Hugo

 

The word “perseverance” sometimes seems a bit intimidating. After all, it’s commonly associated with highly successful athletes, corporate kings, miracle stories, and other things that seem slightly out of our reach.

However, perseverance isn’t some magical pill some are given, leaving the rest of us in the cold. It is a skill, nothing more. A skill that can be learned, practiced, and mastered by anyone. It’s like a muscle, work it out a bit every day, and before long, it will be strong.

 

Ways to strengthen your perseverance muscle include:

  • Start small – think of a minor project you’ve been meaning to get done. It can be something as simple as cleaning out your closet (admittedly this isn’t minor for many). Assign yourself a very specific time allotment per day to get this done, say, 15 minutes.
  • Question your perspective – how you perceive a task will define how much of a challenge you think it is, and whether or not you can do it. It’s all in how you see it – like the old “half glass full or empty” experiment we all know. If you can take a negative thought, such as “I’ll never get this done,” and then challenge it, telling yourself “yes, I can, and here are 3 reasons why,” then you’re gold.
  • Define the WHY – keep in the forefront of your mind what it means for you, and why it is important to you.

 

Just as important as perseverance is the ability to keep your goal realistic. That’s not raining on your parade, or saying you shouldn’t aim high and “shoot for the stars,” as they say. It means don’t set the bar for success so high that you virtually are asking for a major melt-down.

 

Room to breathe

Goals and dreams are like us, in some ways. They need support, love, encouragement, pep talks, perseverance (of course) – but like us, they also need room to breathe.

To make this happen, you need to create margin. In the book “Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives,by Richard Swenson,  margin is described as

…the space between our load and our limits. It is the amount allowed beyond that which is needed. It is something held in reserve for contingencies or unanticipated situations. Margin is the gap between rest and exhaustion, the space between breathing freely and suffocating.”

 

If in your quest for your goal, you leave no room for mistakes, rest, and breaks, you will undoubtedly begin to burn out. This is the point where your mind starts to whisper “this is too much work, you can’t do this.”

Don’t let that happen. Learn how to create margin so you can have an emergency reserve of perseverance when you need it the most – likely when you are close to the finishing line.

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Benjamin Disraeli once said,

 

“Through perseverance many people win success out of what seemed destined to be certain failure.”

 

What he did not say was that many people seem to have a tendency to, as some joke, “snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.”  You don’t have to be one of them. You can stop the cycle of self-sabotage.

You can challenge yourself, develop self-awareness, press on, and reach your goal.

 

 

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