Perhaps our generation’s greatest failing is how lazy we are.
So many of my readers have sent me emails asking how to stop being lazy and take action… they say they want to improve their finances, make more money, or get healthier… or even READ my book (which is sitting under their bed)… but they simply can’t find the motivation to do so. They just can’t stop being lazy.
How many? Thousands and thousands every year.
Interestingly, nobody likes being lazy. We GENUINELY want to change our behavior. We simply cannot figure out how to stop being lazy. We use words like “motivation” (one of the worst words to use in behavioral change since it means almost nothing). We say the “S” word: “Yeah, I really should do that…”
We do all kinds of things that seem productive, but are worthless at best, and counter-productive at worst.
Think about the most common things you want to change. For most of us, they fall into similar buckets: Improve our careers, money, relationships, and health.
Under those, you get specific things like “I want to travel more,” “I want to work less,” “I want to stop procrastinating.”
All achievable. Yet few of us do.
Over the last 12 years, I’ve developed several models that increase productivity, and change behaviors for good.
Here are 6 things you have to know before even trying to stop being lazy.
How to stop being lazy: 6 important behaviors
- Whenever you say “should” — “Yeah, I really should do X” or “They should just do Y” — you have already lost.
- Guilt is not a productive emotion.
- Quick wins produce massive momentum for behavioral change. (Hint: This is why financial books that begin with “create a budget” are almost never effective. This is a massively important and frequently missed point.)
- Automation is more powerful than almost anyone can imagine.
- Simply “trying harder” will almost never work, yet most Americans follow this policy repeatedly for their entire lives.
- Tactics are not enough. Most of us have crippling barriers and invisible scripts that “screen” out even the most sophisticated tactics. (For example, I could give you the best tips on earning more ever created, but if you don’t believe you deserve money, nothing matters — you will not even process the tips.)
I can get into more of this later, but first, I wanted to share an extremely insightful comment I ran across about being lazy.
How to stop being lazy: one Redditor’s answer
The answer one commenter gave was so insightful that I’m re-posting it here for my own readers:
QUESTION: How can I stop being so damn lazy?
BEST ANSWER: “Look man, there are literally hundreds of good ways to get on with the tasks on your plate.
I find a combination of good goal setting and use of things like The Pomodoro Technique work wonders for helping me get stuff done and move forward.
But it’s not so much about being productive. It’s about living up to your word.
I’m guessing that you’re a creative, intelligent sort of person. Are you a perfectionist? That seems likely. Oftentimes, people with those characteristics really get bogged down by the magnitude of the tasks in front of them. Doing something means risking failing at it. Sometimes that risk seems to loom so large, and the drive to perfectionism is so strong, that any sort of meaningful and productive task just seems like it’s not worth it. Why risk failing, when you can just do something else instead?
Of course, in the back of your mind you know that those choices are causing you to fail anyway. That’s why you’re miserable.
So you have to re-think things in a different way. First up, you have to give yourself permission to fail, permission to be less than perfect sometimes. Failing at something, making mistakes, opens up a great opportunity to learn something new.
Second, you have to recognize that laziness and procrastination are destructive to your word. When you take on a task you make a promise to somebody (perhaps just yourself, but somebody) that you will complete that task. Putting that off brings you out of integrity with your word in the matter. That’s not bad, or wrong, it just is what there is in the situation.
But integrity is the thing that makes life work. It is the structure that holds our interactions together. When integrity fails, the structure collapses. Honoring your word is the way to make sure that the integrity of the situation remains intact.
The best way to honor your word is to put it into some sort of reality. Start making and keeping a schedule, and a to-do list, if you don’t already. Start planning your actions, breaking them into smaller tasks that are more easily achievable. Those things serve as a very real reminder that you’ve made a promise that you need to keep. Your word has to be the thing that keeps you moving forward. Honoring that word has to become your primary motivation.
You also need to enlist others to keep you accountable. Get a friend to check up with you, and kick your ass. When you need motivating to take an action, somebody is there to hold you accountable for that action. This piece alone helped me finally finish up a college degree that had been awaiting completion for over 6 years. My friends found out, did all they could to help, and held me accountable to get it done.
But, most importantly, you have to recognize that honoring your word to yourself is absolutely critical. It’s easy to keep promises to others, we don’t like to disappoint. But it’s much harder to keep your word with yourself. You are every bit as deserving of that respect as anybody else who might be involved.
Change your perspective. It’ll change your life.
Nicely put. Let’s break it down — to stop being lazy, start by:
- Giving yourself permission to fail — remember, guilt is not a productive emotion.
- Honoring your word — when you commit to doing something, follow through.
- Start planning your actions and breaking them into manageable chunks.
- Get others to keep you accountable — a friend or accountability partner that will call you out if you start backsliding.
Frequently Asked Questions
Being unmotivated or distracted are two major causes of laziness. But more often than not, people just don’t have good habits in place that help them be productive.
There are three ways to motivate yourself:
1.) Plan for Failure
2.) Put it on Your Calendar
3.) Develop Laser Focus (yes, it’s possible)
You may be unmotivated, distracted, or just not have good habits in place to help you be productive. Fortunately, learning to be more productive doesn’t have to be complicated.
If you want to be more productive while working from home, you need to
1.) Accept reality
2.)Develop new routines
3.) Make sure you’ve got your work/life balance right
4.) Be careful not to get carried away with productivity apps
If you’re serious about kicking bad habits like laziness, start by reading my free e-book, The Ultimate Guide to Habits
Earlier this year, I spent 16 hours prepping for a very special interview. One of my mentors, Stanford psychologist BJ Fogg, taught me much of what I know about psychology and persuasion.
I asked him to spend an hour with me, where we would share our favorite techniques and tactics on behavioral change — on everything from money to exercising and flossing.
We talked about favorite persuasion studies from the academic research — then spent time sharing some of the persuasion models we’ve developed ourselves. And we recorded it.
It’s easy to find some jackass blogger who can write “TOP 10 EASY WAYS TO INFLUENCE YOUR NETWORK!!!” But finding someone who has a deep, thorough knowledge of academic research, plus practical persuasion is extraordinarily rare.
If you’re interested in how to change your own behavior, I strongly encourage you to listen to our conversation.
You can’t get this kind of material anywhere else, and BJ is a tremendous expert with a lifetime of experience.
But that interview is only one small part of my free e-book on creating great habits, breaking bad ones and performing to the peak of your ability.
In this guide, here are a few nuggets that I share:
- How systems beat motivation every time when trying to change your behavior and form lasting habits.
- The Treadmill of Disappointment and 3 easy steps to achieving any goal you set.
- How even chocolate can be a powerful motivator for positive behavior change.
- How to use “failure expectation” to stay on track after a setback.
- Jerry Seinfeld’s system of building momentum, “Don’t break the chain.”
The single best way of keeping laser-focused on achieving your goal, as well as the systems to achieve it.
Most importantly, instead of feeling guilty about being so lazy, you’ll learn practical ways to stop being lazy. And that is, quite simply, why this site exists.