We often associate mental noise and chatter with active thinking. This is not true. As a matter of fact most of us are mentally lazy. We know our brain is going on automatic most of the time, but we hardly stop to think about it. It is a fact of life that we learn to accept and live with.We all have periods of time when we feel less energetic and struggle to find motivation. It is common to feel this way on occasion but, when these moments start becoming more frequent or last for longer periods of time, we might start seeing ourselves differently. Our goals become less important, we find it difficult to feel inspired and we might start wondering if we are capable.We may even start calling ourselves lazy.
Sometimes behaviors cause thoughts and sometimes thoughts cause behavior. Cover your bases and get rid of the negative inner dialogue. Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become character. Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.Before we explore ways of overcoming laziness, it’s helpful to understand the various causes of laziness.
If you’re tired, start devoting some time to relaxing. Everyone needs down time. If your schedule doesn’t allow for it, you may have to make some sacrifices. But your output will be all the better for it.If you’re uninspired, what can you change about your routine? Can you put yourself in a different environment or is a mental demon you have to conquer? How can you vamp up everyday life? Think in terms of your senses. Music, food, sights, sounds, etc.
What makes laziness so pervasive are the many expressions it can take:
- Confusion: “I don’t know what to do.”
- Neurotic Fear: “I just can’t.”
- Fixed Mindset: “I’m afraid I’ll fail or look stupid.”
- Lethargy: “I’m too tired. I don’t have the energy.”
- Apathy: “I just don’t care about anything.”
- Regret: “I’m too old to get started. It’s too late.”
- Identity: “I’m just a lazy person.”
- Shame: “I shouldn’t be so lazy.”
- Unrealistic expectations
- Figure out the real issue
- Monitor that self-talk
Every time you start being lazy, stand back and do a little assessment of what’s been really happening. Laziness is generally a symptom and not the problem itself. What’s the cause of your lack of motivation? Are you tired, overwhelmed, afraid, hurting, or just plain uninspired and stuck? Most likely, the sticking issue is smaller than you think, and you can get past it more easily than you realize.
Learn How to Value Your Work
The terrible irony of our uber-busy culture is that we often hate our work. As strange as it may be to accept, work can actually be enjoyable and rewarding, even if you don’t find some mythical “soul mate” job. Learning to appreciate the value of work for its own sake is a skill that takes time and practice to develop. However, your mindset about work will have a drastic effect on how much you get done.
Disrupt Your Habits
To interrupt the cycle, make it harder to go about your usual routine. If you head straight for the couch when you get home, unplug your TV at night. If you check Facebook too often, uninstall the app from your phone. Even if it’s just a little inconvenience, disrupting your usual triggers can create a break in your muscle memory and kickstart a new habit.A better way to change is to give yourself specific tasks that are attached to your existing routine.The first step is to start observing your thoughts. Thoughts come and go. Just notice the thought as it passes by. Don’t judge or fight it. Become the observer. Experience it in your body. How does it feel? Don’t label; allow.
Simple Tips for Overcoming Laziness:
- Break down a task into smaller tasks
- Rest, sleep and exercise
- Think about benefits
- Doing one thing at a time:Focus on doing one thing at a time. If you feel you have a lot to do, you will probably feel overwhelmed and let laziness overcome you, instead of you overcoming laziness.
- Visualization:Your imagination has a great influence on your mind, habits and action. Visualize yourself performing the task easily, energetically and enthusiastically. Do so before starting with a task or goal, and also when you feel lazy, or when your mind whispers to you to abandon what you are doing.
- Repeat affirmations:
“I can accomplish my goal.”
“I have the energy and motivation to act and do whatever I want or have to do.”
“Doing things makes me stronger.”
“Doing things makes things happen.”
- Learn from successful people
- Savor the times you enjoy working:Intentionally spotting the moments you like your work can also help with those dreaded “What should I do with my life?” questions.
- Reframe what “work” is in your mind:The quickest way to get more done is to look forward to doing it. If you’re still having trouble looking for a way to start, try filling out this three task checklist to keep it simple.
- Be consistent and check your progress
- Become a goal tracker
- Question the persistent thoughts: As you continue to observe your thoughts, you will notice the ones that keep coming up. If they are negative, question them.
- Practice mindfulness:Pay attention to everything you do. Become aware of your surroundings; enjoy the food you’re eating; listen to the sounds around you. Experience life through your senses and body.
- Get clear about what you want in life:Nothing scares people more than intentionally thinking about what they want and what they can be.
- Reduce escapism activities:It is OK to escape and enjoy entertaining activities to renew and relax. However, if you become obsessed with entertainment and heavily rely on it to feel good, you are numbing your mind and avoiding your life.
- Listening to your inner critic
- Listening to criticism from others:As we learn about ourselves and the world through our experiences, we are receiving feedback from others that helps to shape our self-concept.We may also hear people criticize our efforts in our adult life, leaving us to feel self-doubt or discouragement.
- Finding reasons to smile or laugh
- Don’t Get Distracted With Comparison
- Make a checklist of the desires, goals and motivations you want to move towards
- Regularly revisit the importance and value of the problem or goal
- Give yourself pep talks:You are your own coach, your own source of inspiration. You can gear yourself into action by telling yourself inspiring things and affirming your actions. Tell yourself such things as: “I want to do this; I am doing this now!” and “I can take a break when this is done and that break will be deserved all the more for completing this task.” Say these things out loud if needed. You’ll feel motivated by giving voice to your actions.
- Get real with yourself
- Sleep:Our sleep patterns can greatly impact our energy levels.
- Try to go to bed at the same time each night
- Aim for 8 hours of sleep per night
- Limit screen time at least an hour before bed
Allow yourself to show up differently in your life and remember that the journey is uniquely yours.Taking small steps toward better self-care, increased energy, improved goals and healthy boundary setting can help you stop feeling lazy in no time. Prioritizing and taking consistent action steps are the key to long term change and there is no better time than now to take those first steps.
Remember, laziness is a habit, not a personality trait.Being lethargic or unproductive is ultimately just a habit. By breaking out of your old habits and creating new ones, you’ll get used to being active as the new norm. Even if you still don’t totally know what to do with your days, you’ll be more motivated to find something to move on to.The moment, when you realize you’ve accomplished your goal, when you’re pleased with your progress and look forward to doing it again is when laziness dies.