Don’t take this the wrong way, but cancer, HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and any other disease I can’t really pronounce takes a backseat to the biggest disease of our time.
And that’s laziness.
It sounds kind of weird, huh. If I were to call someone lazy, I would intend to mean that person has a disease. And in the same vein as an obese person has a disease with weight, a smoker a disease with their respiratory function and a gambler a disease with denial, laziness is something you’ve caused to yourself.
Now I know you may feel sorry for someone if they’re really fat, coughing a lung, or spending money they don’t have – I’m not disputing that that’s natural. You’re empathetic, you’re normal. What I am pointing out, though, is that these things ultimately lead to behaviours and actions this person has taken to lead them to that point.
The same is true with laziness.
We have literally everything at our fingertips. I could order dominos and call someone from AirTasker to buy me a pack of cigarettes (I don’t smoke, btw) in 5 minutes from the comfort of my chair whilst playing a game of blackjack online. And whilst that’s great, it makes me think about where that behaviour transcends into other parts of your life.
Namely, taking positive actions to build it.
We all want our version of success. Some people are willing to go through hell or high water to get there. Other people will complain, get jealous, and resent the ones who do.
It’s the latter – the lazy ones – in combination with being vocal about it, that annoy the shit out of me.
It’s a pretty simple equation – have a goal, do the thing. Keep doing it until you get it.
If you don’t want to take action, that’s fine. But to complain about never being able to achieve your dreams, or getting jealous when someone else attains what you define as ‘success’ and resenting them over time for that is something that gets me annoyed.
It’s the same thing with skill vs talent. Talent is innate. You’re born with it. Skill is something that’s earned over time, usually through a lot of fucking hard work. To call someone ‘talented’, when really, they’ve been slogging away at their craft for years and working much harder than everyone else, is actually laziness on you. It’s denying the hard work and chalking it up to something you can’t control, so that you can feel better about yourself. Lazy.
I’m not ranting on because I think that you shouldn’t have any downtime and it should be go go go all the time – hell no. But when you see someone who has what you want to have, and you’re busy watching Netflix for 3 hours a day, you really don’t have the right to complain about not having it.
Often times we distract ourselves because we’re avoiding something. I forget where I heard it from, but I once read something that went along the lines of “there are only ever two modes in life. problem solving mode, or distraction mode”. That is, if you’re distracting yourself, there’s probably a problem you’re trying to avoid, and you should probably sort that out.
Usually the biggest things blocking us from action are willpower and fear.
More specifically, we lack the willpower to get the ball rolling, and/or we’re scared to take an action because of multiple factors.
So, here’s how to cure laziness
These two techniques work synergistically. You can take them individually, but they work best together.
Method 1 – Killing a lack of willpower with momentum
Read a book called ‘The slight edge’ by Jeff Olson. The basic premise of that book is that by slicing up large goals/actions/aspirations into sizeable chunks you can repeat every single day regardless of how small, you’ll start to build momentum on your behaviour and it will get easier and easier the more you do it.
Kind of like riding a bike, or photography, or learning anything, for that matter. The more you do it, the easier it becomes. Just make sure that ‘it’ is small, easy and actionable.
In order to really learn my camera when I first started photography, I grabbed the manual from the box. You know that page that shows you every single little dial and knob and gives it a name? I set myself a daily task to do a quick 2 minute primer on each option, 1 per day. Before I knew it, I knew my entire camera back to front in a shorter timespan than most people. Hell, some more ‘experienced’ photographers than I still couldn’t tell you what AEL means or does.
Method 2 – Killing fear with a mentality of experimentation and iteration
Sometimes people are scared to take action. That’s fine, but most of the time it’s because what they’re scared of is some big, nebulous, larger-than-life dream they have no idea how to execute on.
In conjunction with method 1, consider breaking up your actions with a mindset of experimentation. What that means is that instead of considering your actions as final – “I’m going to quit my job” – consider it as an experiment – “I wonder what life would be like if I quit my job? Let’s see what it feels like”.
When things are phrased as experiments, it takes the pressure of performance away. If it’s an experiment, it’s meant to be temporary, right? You can always go forward, but more importantly, you can always go backwards. You’re just testing the waters.
Experiments are great because they give you an inflection point. Before the experiment, you decide what you’re going to do, do the thing, and once it’s done, validate what you decided on and see where you want to go from there. Life doesn’t have to be made of finite decisions.
I decided to learn photography as an experiment to find a great creative outlet. I could have done anything creative – writing (which is kind of what I’m doing as well), fine art, painting (haha), graphic design, anything. But I decided I’d try photography first as an experiment because of a bunch of reasons. Less than a year into it, this is very much still an experiment for me, but one that I’m iterating on and learning from as I go. I could very well decide to quit tomorrow if I wanted to, or go on for the rest of my life. No pressure.
Really, I live my life using these two principles. I’m not saying I don’t take a break – scheduling time to wind down is important – but you sure as hell won’t hear me complain about never taking a step towards what my goals are. Never. Use these methods, and you won’t either.