Laziness: I Don’t Have to Try

This week, I’m doing a two post series on laziness.  Laziness is something that you might struggle with, and for me that sense of laziness comes from two places I’ve been able to determine.  The first one I want to talk about today is the face that growing up, I didn’t have to try very hard.

When I was kid, learning wasn’t difficult for me.  I know that’s not true of everyone; some of my friends in school had a lot harder time picking up concepts than I did.  I don’t say that to show off or put myself on pedestal.  I only say it to point out that since learning came relatively easy for me, I also learned not to try very hard.  If I could get decent grades from taking notes and basically pay attention, why work harder?  Even in late high school and college when things could sometimes get difficult, I still didn’t try very hard. I learned to get by on being lazy.

There’s a lesson I wish I hadn’t learned.

If this is the stem of a struggle with laziness for you, what do you do to overcome it? Here are some steps I’m trying to get started.

  1. Set a specific challenging goal – Maybe you’ve got a skill you’d like to learn, or you just know you’re sitting on your hands at work.  Either way, create a goal for something you want to get done, make it specific, and then make it due just before you think you can get it done.  That’s right, set up the goal so you’re not quite sure you can get it done on time.  You’ll force yourself to work faster and harder; that might be stressful for a bit, but just like building muscle, if you’re training yourself consistently, you’ll eventually make that the new norm.
  2. Find a productivity system that works for you – I use a few different productivity programs and services, and follow my own brand of “Getting Things Done” by David Allen.  But I also use a Pomodoro timer on my iPod at work: this allows me to track 25 minute bursts of work with 5 minute breaks between.  Yes, there’s still a temptation to be lazy, but working against the clock can be a great motivator.
  3. Get some accountability – The previous options are great, but there’s nothing keeping you from quitting but yourself.  Change that.  Find someone you can share you goals with and then give them permission to be merciless with you. (Well maybe not totally merciless, but you get the point.)  You’ll work harder knowing you have to report to a friend or loved one, and they’ll get to watch you grow. Plus, you can return the favor, holding them accountable to whatever goals they want to accomplish in their life.

Maybe life hasn’t been terribly difficult for you, and you could continue on that way.  I know that often I could just sit back and make it.  But I’m tired of being just good enough.  If you’re there too, let’s put our laziness behind us and push ourselves to something greater.  What goals are you going to set to help you accomplish that today?

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