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Laziness: I’m Afraid

This is part two of two in a series on laziness.

Tuesday I talked about how sometimes laziness can stem from a feeling that we don’t really have to try. Today, I want to think about laziness that’s driven by fear. Fear can be useful when it acts as a proper motivator. For example: I don”t want to get sucked up by a tornado, so when the sirens go off, I take my family and move to the basement.

But other times, fear just gets in our way, especially when it comes to laziness. What fears might we need to overcome to get past our laziness?

  1. Fear of burnout – Laziness can easily create a place of comfort, and we don’t like to be uncomfortable. You know you could work harder and create something more.  But what if we put forward our true potential, and we’re asked for more than that?  No one wants to feel burned out or overworked, and as long as we can maintain a level of laziness we don’t have to risk reaching that point.Of course on the flip side, you’re left with work and life that feels unfulfilled.  One of the problems we’re facing here is that we’re not being honest with ourselves. We’ve been lying to ourselves about what we can accomplish, and in order to keep that lie up, we’ve been lying to ourselves about what we think we can handle.  The fact is, we can probably handle a lot. And even more, if we learned to be honest with ourselves, we could learn when the right time is to say “No!” which solves the burnout problem altogether.
  2. Fear of failure – Failing bites.  No one wants to be a failure to others or to themselves.  I mean, what if we work hard and pour our all into that next project and it blows up in our face? Or it’s ridiculed by others? Or we just plain aren’t satisfied with it?  We might throw our work down and never come back! We just can’t deal with the rejection. Right?

    Wrong.  People are pretty malleable: rejection won’t kill us.  Additionally, how many lessons have you learned from being awesome? But how many times has a mistake allowed you to be more awesome next time?  Making mistakes isn’t fun, but for most of my mistakes (at least the ones I consider major) I learned a lesson I won’t forget. And because I won’t make that mistake again, my work and passion increases as compared to next time.

So, do we continue in our laziness, paralyzed by fear, or do we take a risk.  Maybe it’s time to look at yourself and ask, “Am I just afraid? Am I not being all I can because I’m worried about failure or burnout?”  If the answers to those questions is yes, then great! Because knowing what’s holding you back allows you take the risk, break free, and move forward.

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?

Inspiration through Comparison

A few months ago, I got a new boss.  My former supervisor moved on to a new position, and interviews started to fill the position.  The new supervisor we eventually hired looked pretty young.  As I’ve gotten to know him, I realized that he’s only a year older than I am.

There’s a guy at my church who’s a few years younger than me, and yet he’s already an associate pastor who manages a good amount of our church and provides mature council to many around the church as well.When your boss is barely older than you and pastor is a few years younger than you, you start to ask questions, like “What am I doing with my life?”

It sounds really funny when I write it out (probably because I imagine it in the voice of Homestar Runner), but I was serious when I said it to myself.  It was part of my motivation to start this blog, along with some brainstorming help from my wife.  And it would be easy to look at those guys and give up: to say, “If I’m not there now, I’ll never make it.  This is as good as I will ever be; why even try to be better?”

Or I can look at their lives as motivation.  I can view their example and say, “I’m not going to take this anymore!”  I don’t have to be subpar or mediocre.  I don’t have create ok art.  I can throw my all into what I do; I can leave it all on the floor  with my family, in my faith, at my work, and in my hobbies.

You have the same choice before you today (or perhaps you’ve already made it): continue being the example of mediocre, or make today the point you look back on to say “That was the day I decided to be the best version of myself.”

A Worthwhile Nerd

Transport for nerdsThe term nerd is in flux right now.  Once, the word nerd conjured up images of that guy from Revenge of the Nerds, pocket protectors, and numerous other stereotypes.  Now actors like Zachary Levi have merged nerds together into a giant machine, and you can be nerdy about anything from the classics of video games and coding to sports and cooking.

But since the basis of being a nerd or a geek involves an obsession with something (in it’s modern definition), I’m running into a crossroads.  I’m nerdy about video games and technology (among other things). What happens when that nerdiness, that obsession, causes conflict in my life with what’s really important.  Is it possible that the things I like are exactly the things keeping me from being the best I could be?

Some nerds overcome this purely by the fact that they put their nerdery (I’m creating new words; hang with me) to work.  They’re nerdy about coding, so they build websites or design video games for a living.  They’re nerdy about tech, so they build programs or design and build smartphones and tablets.  These nerds are the ones to envy.  They’ve taken an obsession, and made it a living.

Then there are those of us who are nerdy about video games.  The more I go through life, the more I’m convinced that nerdiness about video games is the worst possible nerdiness I could have picked up.  If I’m honest, I can have a bit of an addictive personality.  When I’m into something, it’s all I can think about.  I can’t concentrate well at work because my latest obsession fills my mind.  The question is how to use that to my advantage.

I want to be nerdy about my job, and a hobby that’s productive, like this blog or learning to code websites.  I’d like to be nerdy about my family and what they love and love to do.  I’d love to be nerdy about my faith, pursuing a life full of serving others and continually searching for opportunities to do so.  Which means I’m left with two tough questions:

1. Can I be nerdy about those things and balance them well with other nerdery like playing video games?

And if not:

2. What am I willing to give up to become the person who’s obsessed with what’s important?

Honestly, I’m kind of scared about what the answers to those questions might be.

Photo courtesy of veganstraightedge

The Six Week Challenge

If you had 6 weeks to change your life, could you do it?  Would you consider your chances higher than if you had, for example, a year?

Over at Nerd Fitness, they believe that 6 weeks is enough time to start a change and stick to it.  Users of their forums (like me) sign up for the challenge.  We’ll each list out 3 fitness and diet related goals and “Level Up” or life change goal, and then we tackle them over the process of 6 weeks.  Like any goal setting, you want to stick to a SMART system (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely).

The wonderful thing about a six week challenge is that it allows you to break up a larger goal.  Maybe you’d like to lose 50 pounds.  Perhaps you’d like to build your own website.  You’re not going to do those things over a period of six weeks. But you may be able to track your diet and lose 5 pounds.  You might be able to learn the basics of HTML.  Those things help you get closer to your goal, and momentum can be half the battle.

A little over a year ago, I was ready to work out and build muscle.  I grew up a scrawny kid with little muscle and a high metabolism.  In short, I was built to be a geek.  But after reading a lot of articles at Nerd Fitness, I though, “Boy, it would be nice to be a little stronger and look a little bigger and in general be healthier”.  I took on a couple of 6 week challenges, and I managed to put on about 20 pounds.  I didn’t look quite so scrawny anymore, and I think my wife was a fan.

Now I’m back on another six week challenge, this time to build up some endurance and muscle, while maybe losing a little weight (at least around my waistline).  Am I going to lose all the weight I want in 6 weeks? Nope.  I forget that sometimes, but I have to remind myself that it’s not going to happen.  I might lose a couple of pounds though, and I’ll get out on my bike more. Even posting here is a part of my challenge: to get started doing something that’s better for me than sitting around playing video games or wasting time online. (Not that those things are wrong in and of themselves.)

So I’ll pass the challenge on to you.  Nerd Fitness is in the middle of a six week challenge right now, but if you consider yourself a nerd and are looking to live healthier, I’d encourage you to check it out.  And if fitness isn’t your thing, don’t let that stop you from starting your own 6 week challenge.  Set some goals, get some friends to hold you accountable and get started.  Who knows how your life will change?  If it does, make sure to leave a comment below and let me know; I’d love to hear your story.