“Stop being lazy! You’re wasting your life away!”
Sound familiar? If anyone has ever accused you of laziness, you’ve almost certainly heard that phrase before. Or maybe you’ve said it to yourself in a fit of frustration.
Laziness is a very misunderstood state of being that most people frown upon. But it actually finds its roots in a much darker place.
No one actually wants to do nothing, and once you find the reason you are being lazy, you’ll find the self-confidence to tackle life head-on once more.
What causes laziness?
We’ve already established that laziness doesn’t occur because people don’t want to do anything. So why do we get lazy?
Fear of failure
Fear of failure has killed more dreams than rejections ever could! Unfortunately, many of us have a habit of getting in our own way. And the more we fear getting something wrong, the less likely we are to do it at all.
Fear of responsibility
If we feel that taking action is going to make or break something or someone, why would we want that responsibility? It’s a lot of pressure for one person to handle. And when we feel immense pressure, we revert to “fight or flight.” In this case, the “flight” would be simply to do nothing and ignore the responsibility.
Choosing between two important things is hard for anyone. But for some people, making any choice is a struggle. And that’s because some people tend to put a lot of pressure on any decision they make.
For example, choosing between chips or spicy rice as your side from Nando’s becomes an almost life or death decision with huge consequences if you choose wrong. Of course, in reality, the choice is pretty inconsequential, but try telling that to an indecisive brain that fears failure!
If you don’t believe you can do something, why would you try? That’s exactly how having low self-esteem fuels laziness. You don’t think you are good enough to participate in the world, and so you retreat to the safety of your own space, feeling that doing nothing is probably better than messing things up for everyone else as per usual.
If you have nothing to strive for, why would you bother acting? While some people look for ways to cure their boredom, others don’t know how to, and default into laziness.
Also, if you find something unstimulating, it’s tough to make yourself do it.
Reliance on motivation
We’ve been conditioned to believe in the power of motivation. And there’s certainly a lot of power in it. But let’s be clear. Motivation isn’t reliable. It’s there one moment and gone the next. And that doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with you; it's just how the mind works.
So if you are someone that loses motivation easily and believes they need it to act, you’re more likely to become lazy and do nothing.
Laziness vs Procrastination: How to tell the difference
People often mistake procrastination for laziness, which is unsurprising seeing as they present themselves in almost the same way.
In fact, when reading through the causes of laziness, they sound very similar to the causes of procrastination, right? And there is a significant overlap between the two. However, one key element separates these two states of mind.
Procrastination is having a plan, activity, or goal you want to work towards but are putting it off until later.
On the other hand, laziness is pure inaction. There is no goal you are putting off; you simply choose to do nothing.
Laziness can be seen as the extreme consequence of the elements that cause both procrastination and laziness.
Seven ways to prevent laziness
Laziness is most commonly a symptom of disordered thinking. And so, in tackling your laziness, you’ll mostly need to challenge your inner beliefs. Here’s how:
Make small, manageable goals that you can easily achieve
We’ve already established that laziness is the result of feeling overwhelmed at the perceived enormity of tasks. The best way to combat that is to create small, manageable goals that show you you’re more capable than you think.
For example, if your laziness sees you lying on the sofa all day in your pyjamas, start by getting dressed every morning before you go to the sofa. Then, once you get comfortable doing that for a week, try and commit to getting off the sofa for a few minutes every day.
Gradually build yourself up to action, but don’t go too fast. It’s better to go extremely slowly but successfully than go too fast and reaffirm your false belief that you are incapable.
Find someone to help keep you accountable
They say you need willpower to keep you going. But not everyone has much of it. And rather than beat yourself up for the very normal fact you don’t have the willpower of Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson to get up at 3 am every day to work out, find other ways you can keep yourself accountable.
One incredibly useful way to do this is to find an accountability partner. Someone who will check in with you and remind you to stay on track and see how things are going.
If you don’t want to involve other people, there are plenty of accountability apps out there on the market.
Make a schedule that allows for both work and downtime
Sometimes we see the world as a dichotomy. Right and wrong, Good and bad. There’s rarely any consideration for the immense grey space in-between. And when it comes to laziness, this often translates to: “I have to be working all the time for it to be worth it.”
So take this as your permission to do both. A productive person makes time to enjoy life as well as work towards their goals because they know both are equally as important.
And reminding yourself of this may help you take your first steps into a more productive mindset.
Look after your physical health
Low energy makes everything harder. And if we don’t look after our health, we don’t have the tools we need to get things done.
We all have a different amount of energy our body is able to produce based on our genetics or if we have a chronic illness, but we can all make the most of the energy we have by looking after our bodies in the best way we can.
Practice positive self-talk
The way we talk to ourselves is fundamental to our self-esteem. If we constantly bully ourselves and tell ourselves we’re not good enough, we’ll believe it.
So next time you catch yourself calling yourself an idiot or telling yourself you’re a failure and will never amount to anything, pause.
Instead, find ways to talk to yourself with kindness. For example, “I’m an idiot” might become “I wasn’t feeling very well that day, and mistakes happen, but it’s ok because I can learn from it. One mistake doesn’t make me an idiot.”
Reframing the way you talk to yourself will give you the push you need to start acting.
Find the fun in the boring
Life is full of boring and mundane tasks that need to be done, whether we want to or not. Doing the washing up, admin tasks at work, going to the supermarket – we’ve all got boring stuff that needs doing.
But just because the task is tedious, it doesn’t mean you can’t spruce it up and make it more exciting.
When you’re washing up, you can listen to your favourite music and have a little dance. You can have your favourite TV show in the background when you're doing admin. And why not take someone with you to the supermarket and make a =n event of it?
Whatever your mundane tasks are, there are always ways to spice them up, so start using your imagination and make boring fun again!
Seek professional help for your fear of failure and responsibility
Intense fear of failure, responsibility, and rejection is often symptomatic of perfectionism – which is a type of anxiety.
Perfectionism can be debilitating and extremely difficult to overcome on your own. So if you think you might be struggling with perfectionism, it's ok to seek help from a professional.
The NHS has an excellent mental health and therapy department that provides free therapy for anyone that needs it. If this sounds like something you would benefit from, start by getting in touch with your GP.
Together with your therapist, you’ll be able to work through some of your negative core beliefs and learn to be kinder to yourself while still doing self-help work.
Laziness isn’t an affliction or a personality trait that makes you do nothing. Instead, it is a reaction to the very real distorted thoughts in your brain that send you into a state of action paralysis.
But when you learn to be kinder to yourself, you’ll find yourself becoming less lazy and take the position you were born to have – the leader of your own life!