The last 8 weeks have been tough. I’ve been on a workout regimen I’ll be sharing soon that’s been kicking my butt but getting pretty awesome results (which I’ll also be sharing soon). But last week, I hit a wall.
I was tired, annoyed and a little sick of working out. I didn’t want to do it. Not because I couldn’t do it, but because I was being stubborn, I was making excuses. I was being lazy. It was simply easier to sit around and tap my keyboard for a few more minutes than it was to go get a workout in.
I spent a good 3 hours convincing myself that I deserved to take a break – that I was too tired, that one day off wouldn’t matter, that [insert terrible reason here] was a good enough excuses that I didn’t need to Meanwhile, I was only using up more and more of my energy and getting more and more agitated.
It was simple: I was being lazy. Lazy, whining and complaining. Not a good combination.
After a while, I realized that I was just whining and nobody cared about my excuses but me, so after 3+ hours of talking myself out of working out, I sucked it up, went to the basement and knocked out a 30 minute workout. It wasn’t the best workout I’ve done in my life, but it was enough to smash through the laziness barrier in front of me and keep moving forward – even if it just was a little bit.
Laziness is always around – sometimes it creeps up on you and other times you get so used to it that it becomes a habit. If you need help breaking out of that habit, here’s how to stop being so freaking lazy:
Want Something Worth Working For
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You have to want something. If all you want is that donut in front of your face and the next episode of Jersey Shore, that’s all you’re going to get and you’re going to keep doing the things you’ve always done.
If your life story is boring – change it. But in order to do that, you have to want something actually worth changing for.
Run a marathon, buy a round the world ticket, run a triathlon, quit your job, pick up a new hobby, start your own business,
Start doing something you’ve always wanted to do.
Find something worth getting yourself off your butt – otherwise you won’t have anything compelling to actually change things – then go do it.
Set A Timer
If you want to start, but keep puttting it off – set a timer. Give yourself 30 seconds, 1 minute, whatever you need, but set a timer. When the time goes off START.
If you find yourself taking breaks and your minute breaks turning into hours and days, set a timer. When it goes off, pick back up where you left off. No excuses. No self-talk telling yourself why you deserve a break. No reasoning that you need to take a drink of water. If you’re rested, motivated, or encouraged enough to rationalize your way out of doing something tough, you’re rested, motivated and encouraged enough to go and do it.
Set a timer. When it goes off, stand up, go do something. Period. Set a timer and use it.
(This one technique works 100% of the time if you actually follow through with it).
Get someone on the phone and tell them what you want to do. Then go do it. If you don’t do it, have them call you out, get you back on track or punch you in the face (okay, maybe just a good wakeup slap). Find someone that won’t let you get away with it and tell them that you expect that from them. Being nice, forgiving and empathetic over and over and over won’t help you get better – it will just keep you where you are. They’re great traits for a friend to have but a real friend will tell you what you need to hear – not just what you want to hear.
Tell someone and have them hold you accountable – even if it sucks for you in the short term.
Make A Bet
Competitive? Make a bet. Put your money on the line.
If getting a friendly slap by a friend who cares isn’t an incentive to get started, maybe the prospect of losing a bunch of money will.
Want even more incentive? Make a big bet – one that’s physically painful to you if you lose ($5 bets don’t count – (rule of thumb: if you can forget about the bet in a week – it doesn’t work).
Make a bet that hurts if you lose. Then don’t lose.
Join a Community
Having trouble staying accountable? Join a group of people who are trying to do similar things. The brand new Impossible League community is a pretty awesome resource (if I do say so myself).
Do It Terribly
There’s a lot of . Sometimes you need to do something and ust do it. It doens’t have to be pretty, you just need to do it. Get out your pen, write it down and then throw it away. Go do your workout – do it terribly – but do it. Stop waiting for the perfect business plan to fall in your lap and just find one customer.
Slow motion is better than no motion.
Inaction leads to more inaction, so keep moving forward – even if you can’t do it perfectly. Even if it sucks at first – because sometimes you need to suck at something first in order to get better. Over time you can make it suck less and then even less. If you keep at it, you might eventually get it to be mediocre!
Don’t make a habit of creating junk, but if perfection is holding you back from moving forward and keeping you stuck, throw it out the window and just start already. You can be prolific, create a bunch of rough prototypes and then perfect them.
Take Cold Showers
Shock yourself into doing something. Do something tougher than the impossible. Take 30 days of cold showers. Once you take a cold shower, it’s hard to sit back, relax and just take a nap or veg out. After a 5-minute cold shower you feel like actually doing something, moving and making something happen. Plus it makes it easier to recognize that the resistance that’s keeping you from doing something is all in your head.
Do Something Impossible
Step it up. Lazy happens when you’re uninspired – when there’s nothing to do. When you pick easy targets and predisqualify yourself from anything really challenging or interesting, there’s no reason for you to push yourself. If everything seems possible, there’s nothing really pushing you to do more.
You’re selling yourself short.
Somewhere along the line things got too easy.
It sounds counterintuitive, but if it’s all too simple for you, there’s no incentive to keep getting better and to keep improving.
Step it up. Do something hard. Do something so hard it might even be impossible for you to actually do. Then set out to do it and you’ll magically find out that being lazy isn’t much of a choice anymore.
Most of All
Get off your butt. Stop wishing and start doing.
You might not always feel like it and you might not always want to do it, but if you really want to make a change, action beats laziness every single time.
The sooner you stop waiting for it to happen and start making it happen, the sooner it will actually happen.
How do you cut through the crap when all you feel like doing is lying around and stop being so lazy?
If you’re seriously having trouble doing the things you really want to in life, you should consider joining cold shower therapy which is launching tomorrow. It’s a email challenge course designed to shock you into action and cut through the B.S. excuses that you’ve convinced yourself are valid. It’s launching tomorrow.
photo credit: -AX-
Liane C says
Just the motivation that I need for the coming months. Thanks Joel!
Thanks for the great motivation once again! I’m training for my first marathon after an injury and it sucks a little bit. But, it’s going to happen. Keep doing great stuff! It’s really helping me out.
mars dorian says
Hell yeah, Joel.
I feel lazy too many times – probably since I don’t have a boss breathing down at my neck.
But you’re right – you HAVE to fight through and take measures to get you out of that sorry-ass state.
I’m going to use the timer method again – it helps. Not to mention the cold-ass shower after I wake up.
Let’s beat the shit out of lazyness.
Thanks for sharing, I really liked the part about giving yourself a reason to do something. I find I’ll always be able to find a reason to not do something. But simultaneously you only need a single reason to do something.
Hugo Melo says
I’ve been doing cold showers for 2 months now. They wake me up like a foghorn.
It also helps for me to realize that laziness (read:mental weakness) kills more people than we’d like to admit.
And sprints. Sprints kick ass.
James S. says
Hey Joel–looking forward to seeing the details of this this workout.
I like the timer method idea too, seems like a good way to cut short the inevitable internal dialogue whenever you’re trying to talk yourself out of something.
Thanks for great post! This is what makes me move every time when I get stuck – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HpFroMCKiuM
It is so powerful. Hope you enjoy it same as me.
Roy Marvelous says
Good advice. I admit that I can be very lazy – need a kick in the ass sometimes!
Anna R says
I definitely share the same views of just doing what you’ve always wanted to do. It’s so easy to just say you’ll do it later or talk about all these plans, but fall into your same habits and routines. I think we all need to just go for what we really want and stop avoiding what we think it impossible!
Carol S says
Joel, this is exactly where I was six weeks ago. In a “slug” mode. All talk and no show regarding exercise routine. My mind and mouth were sure getting a workout from all the thinking and talking about it, but with absolutely nothing to show for it. Not getting any younger and wanted to get back to the younger, fit person I used to be. Woke up one day and after a combination of things that recently happened, I decided to finally commit to doing the mini-triathlon I’d been thinking about for the last several years. I told a lot of friends and family that I was going to do this so I was committed at that point. The event is July 15, my workouts are going great, and I feel awesome in so many ways – physically, mentally, emotionally.
Lazy’s a four-letter word! Remove it from your vocabulary. Every day is a new day and a great day to start something new. Stop beating yourself up about what you haven’t been doing, get off your butt, and start today!
Brandon Yeager says
agree with finding someone to hold you accountable and joining groups, etc. I also like to find something uplifting…be it music, a video, a tony robbins audio, something to change my emotion. Emotion Creates Motion.
Change your emotion…change your motion.
Kathy Brown says
I can relate. I’ve just come off the back of a week with niggling health problems, extra admin work & extra coaching. I didn’t get time to do any physical stuff for three days. I felt I’d lost the momentum & it was tempting to let it slide.
But then I thought of the marathon I’m working towards in 2 years time (bear in mind 3 months ago I could barely run 400m without stopping for breath), & then I got to thinking how cool would it be if I could manage it next year instead of 2014. And how cool would it be if I could manage the 12k City to Bay in September sub 60 minutes.
That was all I needed to get me off my butt. On Saturday I ran almost 7k, my longest run to date, & felt so good afterwards, I decided to push the boat out even farther. This morning I ran over 12km, the first time I’ve done anything anywhere near as long as that in about 25 years & still managed a sprint finish. I was very tired by the end, but so elated. It’s just the best feeling!!!!
What do you think about Derek Sivers philosophy of not telling anyone your goals? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NHopJHSlVo4
Joel Runyon says
I think it’s a great idea in the right situation. I wrote about this a while back –> https://impossiblehq.com/climb-a-mountain-tell-no-one
Demian Kasier says
I often shove work to my future-self. But let’s be honest to myself. What is the chance he will do it with a lot of joy if I don’t like the work now? None I tell you!
Juan Pasillas says
I understand completely. I suffer from laziness. I try to vent out online. Its refreshing to have other people also talk about laziness. I learned that for me, personally, it helps me, expressing myself regarding the whole concept of laziness. Sometimes, I look at laziness as an opportunity. If I feel lazy, I fight it by looking for places where I can write about laziness and how frustrating it is. I know, its strange, but it works. Its like fighting fire with fire. I run with my laziness and go online and leave messages on boards, venting and hopefully helping people out in the process.
Joel, I love how you talk about setting yourself higher limits, I really do think that is the key to laziness. We always try to be ‘realistic’ but being realistic never achieved greatness for anybody. When you have an extreme goal, you don’t have time to be lazy.
Also I think that sometimes procrastination and laziness get mixed up. I used to be one of those people that really did want to work hard but it felt like it took literally EVERYTHING mentally to even get started.
It really is all in the mind, you can change if you really want to.
Thanks for this post. I have no motivation to do anything right now. I’ve been wanting to go for a run all day and have been putting it off. I’m going to try go for one, even if its like only 5 minutes