How To Stop Being Lazy
By Leo Gura - November 10, 2014 | 56 Comments
Solutions for short-term and long-term laziness
Hey, this is Leo for Actualized.org. In this video we’re going to talk about how to stop being lazy.
Let’s do some lazy troubleshooting. I want to help you to get out of your rut, your funk or whatever else is going on in your life, so let’s troubleshoot this issue. This is an issue that’s close to me because you know I get lazy sometimes.
In fact today was one of my most lazy days in a while. I’ve been working real hard on my business stuff and today was just one of those days where I didn’t really have that much to do, but I was supposed to shoot a couple of videos – which is what I’m doing now – but it was hard for me to get mobilized. The whole day I was kind of putting it off and procrastinating and saying, “No, I don’t want to. I feel sleepy, I feel tired, I didn’t have a good meal so now I’m kind of sluggish.” It’s like, “Ugh, do I really have to get up there and prepare myself, get all pretty and everything, and get ready to talk about this kind of stuff? I don’t want to deal with all that stuff.”
I was writing little outlines for what I’m going to say but then I just wasn’t feeling it. I wasn’t in the mood. I was feeling like I was really being lazy. But, here I am. I’m standing here in front of you. I’ll tell you how I got up here at the end of the video.
What Kind Of Lazy Are We Talking About?
Right now, first of all, to frame this problem let’s just be very clear and ask you, what kind of lazy are we talking about here? There are different kinds of lazy. One kind of lazy is that you lost your job and now you’ve been unemployed for twelve months, and you’ve just been lying around on the couch at your parents’ house, in their basement, and you haven’t even been looking for a job. You’re so lazy you’re sitting there watching reruns of old TV shows for twelve hours straight, eating noodles out of a Styrofoam cup. That’s one kind of lazy.
That’s the kind of really problematic lazy, then there’s another kind of lazy which is one that I get coaching clients coming to me for. That’s this kind: I get a successful person coming to me, this person is already earning six figures, but this person is now feeling, “I’m not so motivated anymore. I want to go out there and go for that promotion but I’m kind of losing my drive.”
Or, “I want to earn an extra million dollars in my business but I’ve already got a couple million, how do I motivate myself to earn that extra million?” This kind of lazy. Maybe you work really hard and you’re working on projects all the time and now you’re in this kind of rut between projects. You’re feeling like, “I don’t want to do anything. I don’t want to start the next project.”
This is a very different kind of lazy. That’s kind of an over-achiever’s lazy, that’s what I’m calling that one. If you’re an over-achiever type, you’re a workaholic type, you think that unless you’re working your ass off at a breakneck speed then everything is lazy. That’s a different type of problem.
Then of course you’ve got other kinds of lazy like maybe you’re too lazy to go and study for school or college, maybe there’s an exam coming up, a certification you’re not studying for… that kind of lazy. I’ve been there. Or, maybe you’re too lazy to go to the gym. You don’t want to get your ass up to get there and do the workout that you set up for yourself. Or whatever other kind of thing you’re stalling on.
Basically if you keep having this recurring problem in your life, of being lazy, that’s what I want to cover here in this video. That, and at the end of the video I’m also going to talk about how to specifically get yourself out of a lazy funk right now, right this second. I think that there’s a difference between long term laziness and short term laziness.
What I had today was a short term laziness. It’s not like I lost my motivation to shoot more videos, that didn’t happen at all, it’s just today I wanted to slack off. I’ll talk about that at the end too.
What’s The Problem With Laziness?
Let’s talk about for a second, this longer term laziness which I actually see as a much bigger problem. See, I don’t have a problem with long term laziness. That’s because I worked hard at it.
It wasn’t always like that. I worked hard on my life purpose. My life has purpose that’s why it’s very hard for me to be lazy on the long term. I’m never really afraid of that. I can have short term laziness though because like anyone I just want to slack off during a certain part of the week or whatever, especially if I’m working real hard prior to that.
The real question I’ve got to ask you is, what’s the problem with being lazy? Why not? I don’t mean for me, I mean for you. For me there’s a really big problem with being lazy.
I mean, I’ve got an important life to live so when I’m lazy I’m losing time. My life purpose is not getting accomplished. What about you though? Do you have a life purpose? What’s not being accomplished when you’re lazy? Why does it matter?
Maybe for you being lazy is cool. No one says that being lazy is cool, but I mean that even when you tell yourself that being lazy isn’t cool, it’s still cool for you. Why is that?
That’s because your life has no purpose. It has no meaning. You’re not doing anything important with your life. There’s no larger mission to your life so honestly the reason that you’re lazy is because you can be.
What else are you doing? You’re trying to come up with fake productivity. You’re trying to be productive and efficient, go out there and work that job, or do this thing here or do whatever there. You’re trying to do all this stuff just to keep busy, just because someone told you to do it, just because you have a social obligation or whatever.
In that case if you have laziness problems that’s because you’re using extrinsic modes of motivation not intrinsic modes of motivation. That’s one distinction you’ve got to understand here. Extrinsic, intrinsic.
Extrinsic means you’re being motivated from the outside in. That’s like when you have a kid that wants to eat some candy and his parents are telling him no, you’re going to eat vegetables, and then they give him some sort of reward. They’ll say, “If you eat your vegetables then we’ll give you ten dollars.” That’s called extrinsic motivation.
Intrinsic motivation is when it comes from the inside out. That’s like if the kid would say, “You know what, I want to eat healthy stuff so I’m not going to eat the candy, I just want to eat healthy stuff.” That can happen too.
It’s rarer. It’s harder to find people who are intrinsically motivated. You know what though? Those are the people that are the most successful. Those are the self-actualized people.
One of the ways you get this way is you have a purpose to your life. You develop it, you cultivate it. This is not something that you’re born with. You cultivate it. I’ll talk about that in other videos.
Positive Motivation Won’t Wane
Another distinction you should understand is that between positive and negative motivation. Some people think that they can motivate themselves through life to accomplish great things through negative motivation.
What is negative motivation? By the way I have videos on that too. Here I’m just going to give you the quick summary version.
Negative motivation means that you’re telling yourself all the bad, painful stuff that’s going to happen to you if you don’t do something. That’s like if you’ve got to study for a test in a class that you have no interest in. Maybe you’re studying math. You’ve got no interest in math, you’ve got to ace the test in order to get into law school or something, which is what you’re really passionate about.
So now you’re taking math, you don’t care about math, you’ve got to ace it though, and you’ve got to go out there and study. You don’t want to study, so you’re going to just slack it off. The negative motivation there is, “Well, if I fail I’m going to get an F. That’s going to look bad on my transcript.” Negative motivation, not a good way to go.
Few people in life have accomplished amazing things through negative motivation. What works better, the really successful people, they are positively motivated. That means that there’s something that they’re constructively working towards and in their minds they are visualizing all the good, all the pleasure that will come from that.
Let’s say you’re taking this same math test, except here you’re really curious and interested in math. Very different. You want to ace this test because you just want to show that you’re good at math, which you’re studying anyways. Very different kind of motivation.
A lot of really successful people, actually what happens to them, and they come to me for coaching on this, yeah they’ve got a good career, a good job, but what happens is that they got to where they got to through negative motivation. It’s interesting how it’s not like if you’re negatively motivated you can’t be successful. There are plenty of negatively motivated successful people out there, but what happens is that they max out, they hit a plateau.
Once they get a relatively comfortable level of living, they’re comfortable. All of a sudden there’s no more negative motivation. Negative motivation robs you of itself. That’s kind of the problem with it.
It produces a yoyo effect because if all you’re doing is you’re moving in life to move away from pain and discomfort, as soon as you get a comfortable spot you’re going to stay there. That’s it. You’re done. There’s no more motivation for you.
If you want to go really far in life you need positive motivation. Positive motivation never wanes. For example, one of my motivations is to get smarter about life, to understand life better. Now, what is that? Is that positive or negative? That’s positive.
I’m not doing personal development, and I’m not just trying to understand life so that I can avoid all the pain in my life. That’s not why I do it. I do it because it’s fascinating to me, because it’s just interesting, and because I see all the awesome ramifications that come from that. I enjoy the learning process.
So from that, my motivation never wanes, not long term, because I can keep learning about life for the rest of my life. It’s never going to end. There’s always something new to learn. Whereas, if somebody was doing personal development for example, “I need to lose twenty pounds before my wedding which is three months from now. Leo, help me lose twenty pounds before my wedding. I need to do it right now, give me some personal development mumbo jumbo so that I can quickly lose those twenty pounds for that wedding” that’s negative motivation.
As soon as those twenty pounds are lost, then it’s like, “Screw this personal development stuff. I don’t care about it anymore. I’m just going to go off and do my own thing.” Then what happens? You gain all that weight back. That’s what produces yoyo effects so positive, negative. Keep that in mind.
The Laziness Checklist
Here’s a basic checklist to see why you’re lazy. Number one: life purpose. Do you have a life purpose? Do you have a compelling vision of what you create with your life, what you want to create very, very long term?
I’m talking twenty, thirty years down the road. Do you have that? Are you aligned with that? Are you working towards it on a weekly basis?
If not, huge problem. You’re going to have lots of laziness problems because you’re not driven by anything. It’s like you’re a car with no engine inside. You need someone to tow you basically. That’s what it is, you’re being towed through life and then if there’s no one towing you, you’re stuck.
The second point, your top ten values. You’ve got to identify what your top ten values are and you’ve got to see, is your life aligned with those values? Are you actually acting towards it? If you’re not, if the stuff you’re doing with your life isn’t aligned with your values, for example if your job isn’t honoring your top values, you’re going to be lazy there. You’re going to have a lot of long term laziness problems.
Third point on this checklist, ask yourself where are you in the cycle. Do you know that life works in cycles? I don’t mean here the cycle of life. That’s a different thing. That’s when you’re dead.
I mean life works in cycles. As you’re going through life, there’s this natural ebb and flow, up and down, cadence like this to life. One of these cycles can last for two, three or five years. These are pretty long term cycles.
How does one of these cycles work? Let’s say you’re starting a new project. When you start a new project you’re kind of at the bottom of the cycle. You start some sort of new project, or new endeavor whatever, new chapter in your life.
Then you start moving towards it, it’s exciting, you’re working on it and you’re going up in a cycle. Then you really hit your stride, you’re reaching towards the top of this cycle. Then you’re really at your peak, you’re really killing it at your job. Whatever you’re trying to do it’s really clicking. Everything is working. You’re at the very top of the cycle.
Then naturally people expect that, “I’ll just stay at the top.” No, that’s not very natural. The way life works you have ebb and flow so even after you’ve peaked, you’re not going to maintain that peak.
There’s going to be a turn downwards. The phase in the chapter is going to be coming to an end. The movie’s coming to an end. There’s going to be a climax, after the climax things resolve. That’s what’s happening here.
This doesn’t necessarily mean failure. Sometimes it is a failure, sometimes it’s a catastrophic failure. Maybe your business catastrophically fails. Most times it’s not even that. It’s just kind of a natural way of phasing out.
Maybe you’re just moving on to bigger and greater things. A new chapter of your life needs to start so now you’re going down and inevitably you hit the rock bottom of that cycle. This might be something very serious like something bad happened to you, some traumatic event now you’re very depressed, you’re suicidal, you’re very doubtful.
Or maybe you’re just kind of feeling lost and lazy, and you’re in this rut. You don’t know what the next thing is in your life, you don’t know what the next chapter should be, you’re confused, you’re lost, and you don’t have a project to work on. Maybe you’re unemployed, maybe you don’t have a business… this kind of stuff. That’s you at the very bottom.
Then from that what happens is that through that process of contemplation and kind of wandering, looking and searching and rediscovering you come up with the next chapter and then from that next chapter again the cycle starts to come back up. Understanding this you’ve got to ask yourself, where are you in this cycle right now in your life? If you’re lazy and you’re at the top of the cycle, that’s one scenario. If you’re lazy and you’re at the bottom of the cycle, that’s another scenario.
I mean, it’s pretty natural to be lazy at the bottom of the cycle. Sometimes you’ve got to let yourself be that way because maybe you’ve just completed a really big project, or you just sold a business of yours or whatever. Now it’s natural to be a little bit lazy, maybe you should take some time off, think things through.
If you’re at the top of the cycle, laziness shouldn’t really be a problem or you because you’re going full stride, but sometimes you might have a day or two of laziness here or there and so that’s okay. Notice where you are in your cycle.
The next checkpoint on this list is when was the last time you had a vacation? How many months has it been? If it’s been over six months then that might be the problem right there. I find it myself I start get lazy after I’ve worked really hard for a long time and I don’t even acknowledge to myself how hard I’ve worked.
If you’re having laziness issues when you’re at the top of this cycle, maybe it’s because you’ve been working so goddamn hard to reach the top and now that you’re at the top you just need a little bit of a break. You need to recharge those batteries. Take you mind off the work you’ve been doing or whatever, and then you won’t have these laziness problems anymore. Check in with that too.
Habits Are Key
That’s the basic checklist but I have a little bit more to say. Maybe you’re still lazy after all of this. Maybe you pass all these points and you’re lazy.
If you don’t have a life purpose, expect yourself to be lazy a lot. If you’re not aligned to your top values, expect yourself to be lazy a lot. If you’re not taking vacations and resting properly, expect yourself to be lazy. If you are not conscious of this cycle, expect yourself to be worrying about your laziness and not understanding it in its proper context. That’s the reason I explain that stuff.
If you’re still having laziness issues, habits are really key. You need to develop successful habits. I don’t really want to cover the process of making habits in this video, it’ll just be a little bit of a tangent, I’ll cover that in other videos. I have really good videos on how to break bad habits, how to start good habits.
The only thing I’ll tell you here is you probably need more success habits in your life, and you want to build them up slowly. If you’re lazy right now, don’t expect to just go and jump out of the bed and go to the gym and you haven’t been to the gym in a long time. It won’t work that way. You’ve got to baby step that and build that momentum up, build that habit up over the course of the next month or two and then it’ll be okay.
Let’s say for example that you want to be an aspiring writer and in your mind you’re telling yourself, “I’ve got to write this novel, I’ve got to write this screenplay, but I’ve been so lazy and slacking off the last two weeks and I keep pushing it off. I’ve been pushing it off for a whole year now.” You’re lazy. In this case, there’s a procrastination issue there – I’ve got a video on that, I’ll link it below, check that out – but also beyond the procrastination you need to build a writing habit.
What you’re probably telling your mind is, “I’ve got to sit down and write this whole book” or “I’ve got to sit down and write the first chapter” or “I’ve got to sit down and do eight hours of writing for the day”. No, that’s not how a good writer starts.
A good writer, if he hasn’t written yet, he’ll start slow, baby step that stuff. Maybe today you just spend one hour. If one hour is too much, spend ten minutes. Baby step it. That’s how you’ve got to do sometimes especially when you’re working so hard, when you’re doing something ambitious.
You’ve got to look into the future and say to yourself, “Right now I’ll start slow and that’s okay because the ramp up will happen pretty fast.” It’s okay of you spend the next month just ramping up slowly just to get to let’s say five hours of writing a day. That’s a lot of writing.
If you can consistently do five hours of writing a day, damn you’ll write anything you want pretty fast. The key is to get you there. You just don’t jump there in one go.
The final point that I want to really make here is how do you break out of laziness right now, right in the moment? The habit stuff, that’s more long term. What if right now I was sitting on my couch right now and I didn’t want to go and shoot these videos?
In fact in my mind I almost said, “Oh man, it’s not going to work. I’m not going to do it today. I’ll put it off to next week or something like that.” I honestly didn’t want to come up here, but here I am standing in front of you shooting this video so what happened?
Don’t Think, Just Act!
I want to read you a quote from William James. I was thinking of this quote before I got off my couch. It goes like this, ‘You can act your way into right thinking, but you can’t think your way into right action.’ What does this mean?
There’s something very truthful about this quote, very profound. It says basically that if you’re sitting there and you’re trying to think your way into going out there doing something big, it’s not going to happen. That’s what I was trying to do on my couch. I was trying to sit there and come up with a way.
Okay, what kind of technique do I know? What kind of psychological trick can I pull out of my bag of tricks so that I can get up here and shoot my video? In fact I was starting to guilt myself and I was starting to say stuff like, “If I don’t shoot my video, what are people going to think of me when I’m shooting a video about laziness and I’m being lazy myself? What gives me the qualifications to talk about it?”
The fact is that I am lazy. There are times in my life when I’m very lazy so let’s be real here. I’m not standing up here and saying I’m never lazy. It’s just that it happened today that I was able to motivate myself.
The reason was that I stopped thinking about it and I started acting. Thinking versus acting. When you’re really stuck just go through the motions. That’s it. That’s the best way to get yourself mobilized in the moment.
If you’ve got to get your ass off the couch to the gym, literally lift your ass off the couch, step one. Step two, walk over to the closet. Step three, put on your shoes. Step four put on your jacket or whatever you need.
Step five, pick up the keys to your car. Step six, walk out the front door. Step seven, walking to the car. Step eight, turn on the music to make yourself feel a little bit better when you’re in your car.
Take your mind off of it. Don’t overthink this. This stuff is simple. Personal development is simple too. People overthink it.
Sometimes I don’t think that I’m helping with releasing all these videos because honestly these videos can lead to a big circle-jerk effect where all you do is sit there and you do this mental masturbation. All these cool, interesting concepts and ideas but then nothing happens because you just don’t take any action. You can’t act.
Remember that the first three letters of the word actualized is act. Action. Taking action. Action is the thing that determines the winners from the losers in life, the successful people from the unsuccessful people, the self-actualized from the unself-actualized. Action.
Sometimes you’ve just got to say to yourself, “Just fucking do it. Stop thinking about it, just fucking do it.” Whatever it is that you’re being lazy on right now, stop looking for a trick, just go fucking do it.
It’s not as hard as you think it is, it’s not as painful, it’s not as bad, your mind is exaggerating that stuff. Just get yourself into action and put your mind into something else while you’re doing it. Soon what you’ll find is you’ll be standing here speaking to the camera, you’ll be enjoying yourself, you’ll be feeling pretty nice, you’ll be wondering, “Man, how come I was so lazy just a couple of hours ago? I don’t even know. That was like a different person.”
Now I’m standing here I’m not lazy at all. I feel great. In fact, this is my second video. I already shot the first one. This is the second one.
I really didn’t feel like I was going to do it but you know what, sometimes it doesn’t matter what you feel like. Sometimes you just move your legs, you move your ass, you move your mouth and stuff happens. It’s pretty cool.
Feel Free To Half Ass It Sometimes
Also, another trick is that don’t build up in your mind like you have to do it perfectly. Sometimes you know what, I’m just going to do a half ass job today. I’m going to go to the gym and I’m going to half ass it. Instead of staying at home from work, I’m going to go to work, but I’ll just do a half-ass job at work. Instead of writing this stellar awesome chapter for my novel, I’m going to write a half ass chapter for my novel.
That’s good because it takes the pressure off you. It gets you mobilized and once you’re mobilized it allows you to build up the momentum you need to then actually kick some ass that day.
Another tip that I like is sometimes when I feel like it’s really hard for me to mobilize to do work, just slow down, slow your life down. Sometimes we try to speed things up so that we get more done but ironically what happens is that we’re moving, there’s so much going on but this action, it’s got no traction to it. It’s just like stuff flying in the air but nothing important is getting done.
Sometimes you’ve got to slow yourself down, bring yourself back to your own original principles and values. That actually helped me today too. What I did is I wrote a couple of blogs for some people that I follow, some quality blogs. I read that and that started me thinking. That got my mind turning because I wasn’t really into the mood to think and come up with new insights, new ideas.
I wasn’t coming up with that stuff, but as I started reading that blog I started reading this analysis, it started getting my mind to be doing analysis. My mind needs to be in analytical mode when I’m shooting these videos so that’s what’s happening right now, I’ve kind of built up some kind of momentum. That’s because I’ve kind of allowed myself to slow down.
Earlier in the day I was like you know what, I’m going to take it easy today. If I read a book, for example if I picked up a book from the bookshelf and read that, that would have helped me too because I’m slowing down. I’m focusing on the stuff I’m trying to do with my career, my business, which is delivering good advice to you guys. When I focus on that that tends to reground me.
Finally just acknowledge that sometimes you’re going to fail. Honestly I’m standing here in front of you but it could have been a fifty-fifty chance that I wouldn’t have done this video today, just because I was pretty lazy today. And you know what, that’s okay.
In the past I would have really guilted myself for it, I was guilting myself a little bit today but ultimately you’ve got to say to yourself you’re not perfect and sometimes you’re allowed to be lazy. In fact it’s when you try to be super productive all the time that actually laziness tends to come up. So then you get laziness because you’re over activity backfires on you.
Now, we’ve covered a lot of ground here in this video. This last point about over productivity backfiring, you’ve got to ask yourself, “Is that me? Am I an over-achiever type?” If you’re an over-achiever type that’s a perfect description of how you work.
If you’re a lazy slacker type that’s not you. If you’re lazy slacker type what you need to do is go back to the beginning of the video and really look at life purpose. You don’t have enough purpose in your life. You don’t have enough positive motivation so you’ve got to work there. I’ve got some videos that I’ll link down below to help you figure that out.
All right, this is Leo, I’m signing off. Go ahead post me your comments down below. Please like this video, click on the like button. Share on Facebook, share with your friends so that I can release more free content if this video and other videos are popular.
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