Intro: I Hacked Laziness

When I started to accept I was lazy I realized I could control my life

He really is adorable

I used to be lazier than this cute, adorable, sleeping dog

I’m a lazy person by nature. I’d rather figure out how to not do something, or how to minimize my work, instead of actually going the long way and doing exactly what was prescribed. Traditionally this is regarded as bad, and it’s assumed that as a lazy person you won’t do anything, won’t amount to anything, and will live the life equivalent of an episode of Green Arrow – it’s not entirely bad, but you know it could be so much better.

The thing is, I didn’t want to be lazy. For years the only thing I hoped for was to get myself to work on things even if I didn’t really want to. I’d get by with school and work since I knew I had to do it, but the result was sub par work, often rushed just to get it done with, instead of with the full thought and capability I knew I could put into it. I longed to care or be invested enough with something I had to do that I’d give it my 100% and look back with absolutely no regrets of my work.

What I realized was that I was motivated by the fear of failure. Fear can be an effective tool, but produces unreliable results and often motivated by completion versus a personal motivation. Fear is destabilizing and can make you feel worse instead of letting you enjoy the catharsis and satisfaction of completing something. This helped me to realize a core understanding of how I now live my life:

Positive catharsis beats negative catharsis. In other words: you would rather feel good than not feel bad. Take a second and think:
  • Would you rather make a new friend or a new enemy?
  • Would you rather be praised or insult someone else?
  • Would it be easier for you to pull an all-nighter for a project you’re passionate about, or because you’ll get reprimanded if you don’t?

Not only are you more likely to get something done if you want to than if you have to, but you’re more likely to put more time into it, do it well, and feel even better upon completion. There’s a reason why pets trained with love instead of fear are more loyal. There’s a reason why you remember the teachers who inspire you more than those who forced you to learn facts.

There are a host of physiological, psychological and biochemical reasons why, but when it comes down to it: wouldn’t you rather feel good than bad? This comes back to things people have said throughout history; “Do what you love,” “If you love your work, it’s not work,” “Follow your heart.” It’s not new, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to identify or to do.

This is the first step in a winding path to figure out what motivates you, and how you can make it work for you, the way I’m trying to make it work for me.

By understanding what I enjoy, and putting what I NEED to do in the context of what I WANT to do, I’ve been able to make my laziness benefit me and motivate myself by becoming excited about things I had to force myself to do before. tl;dr: I hacked my laziness to work for me. It wasn’t a simple fix, and you can’t force it; but there are multiple ways to think about it to help yourself realize how it works.

My goal is to share what I learn, and to help you try the same if you want to.

The only way I know to help you take advantage is to share and convince you this makes sense, not just to tell you. There’s a lot to look at, and many ways to look at it, so let’s start with something stupid simple.

Want to start now? Try thinking of 1 thing you want to do but haven’t been able to motivate yourself to start yet.

Coming Up Next Time
How to Easily Start Something New (and Not Abandon It Immediately)

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[…] This is the latest in a Lazy series – For previous posts, click here and here […]