before anyone can have much success in not being lazy, you have to figure out what it is you do when being lazy [the indicators], what it costs you when being lazy, & what are the main causes of your laziness.
laziness manifests differently in each person. in me, the main indicators are: procrastination, sleeping in late, watching lots of television, deferring items on my 2do list, & wasting time on media outlets [facebook, pinterest, etc.]. these often roll into each other — i watch television & play on pinterest as i procrastinate doing what i actually need to do, then i defer what i actually need to do to a later date. it’s a vicious, vicious cycle.
and there’s a steep cost to this cycle. i end up feeling highly stressed when crunch time comes due to procrastination, & sometimes i even go so far as to alienate myself & avoid everything i need to get done. there are three major consequences to this pattern: developing a reputation of unreliability [ouch], missing opportunities, & life passing you by… and while being cast as unreliable is embarrassing & frustrating, as a student of life, the other two consequences are much more detrimental.
my fundamental problems in being a lazy girl are lack of self-discipline, ingrained bad habits, lack of accountability, selfishness, & inability to canter. that last one probably needs an explanation. my counselor in college told me that i only have two speeds: gallop & stop. she said i needed to learn to canter. basically, i need to learn to pace myself. however, i find the worst problem is actually my utter selfishness. oftentimes, i know i should do a particular task to help or encourage someone, but almost invariably, my own desires [usually to do nothing] win out. i completely agree with the phrase “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” that describes my life too well.
so what is a lazy girl to do?
i’ve identified 5 solutions that are helpful for me & i believe are universally helpful to anyone struggling with laziness.
1. know what is your passion or purpose. — i am drawn to ministry, especially to teenagers & putting faith into action. that’s my passion. [one of many.] i find great purpose in pursuing this passion but also in just pursing what it means to live life deliberately & to the fullest. being a student of life is my purpose, regardless of how my passions may change or what kinds of ministry i’m involved with over time. knowing this increases the likelihood that i will do those things that are related to my passion & purpose.
2. set goals. — this seems obvious, but there are a few caveats. you must set realistic goals, you must establish a timeline in which to accomplish these goals, & you must write them down & review them often. there are so many different ways you can do this, & it’s purely a matter of what works best for you. i set 12 goals per year & a deadline of december 31 each year in which to have completed or improved in my goals. i write them down in several places — i keep a list in my phone, in my journal, & on a poster in my bedroom. this year, i also devoted a whole notebook to my goals, each one being allotted 4-6 pages. i review my goals every week [on saturdays], & i keep track of the small steps it takes to accomplish each goal.
for more about why i set goals, how i set goals, & what kinds of goals i set, see my post from earlier this year: the goals of a student of Life.
3. take baby steps. — i’ve learned in my goal-setting & various large projects over the past few years how crucial it is to break down each task into smaller “bite-size” pieces. if you’re like me, you may see a big task that needs to be done & feel so overwhelmed by it that you never start. i love lists, so creating a plan to get a project or goal done is very satisfying for me. actually getting the smaller steps done is another story…
4. agape. — i am good at starting projects. i am really good at making lists & plans about how to start & complete a task. but i’m not good at getting to the action part or continuing the action once the newness has worn off. it has taken me years to realize that my deepest problem when it comes to getting things done is selfishness. i want to do what i want to do. and i want to do it right now. yuck. this year, as i have been exploring what agape means in action, i’ve realized that it is the best counter to my selfishness. if i really love someone, i will do this thing that i promised to do. if i really love my husband, i will do the laundry to make his life easier. [he makes my life easier by doing all the dishes.] if i really love the teens i work with, i will take the time to check in with them. if i really love the ministry [translate: people] i’ve been called to, i will work on x, y, or z.
5. rely on God’s spirit within. — knowing my purpose & passion, choosing agape, these are my motivations to act. setting goals & taking baby steps are my methods. but still i need the ability & energy to act. since i’m a lazy girl deep in my core, i need a non-danae catalyst. i would say an external catalyst, but mine comes from within. second timothy 1:7 says, “God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but one of power & love & self-discipline.” this is exactly what i need — power or energy to get out of lazy patterns, agape [the greek word for love in this verse] to get me out of myself, & self-discipline which i totally lack without God’s help. when i rely on Him, His Spirit within me, each day, i get things done, & i get the right things done.
last confession: sometimes i still like being a lazy girl… i really like watching television & playing on pinterest! so, make sure to schedule time to relax & to indulge. i try to have one hour of “downtime” each day & occasional days off to do whatever i want. when i find myself getting stressed or overwhelmed & fighting the desire to give up & hole up, i know i’m long overdue for a day of rest!
hope my fellow lazies find this helpful. we all have purpose & calling in this life, & fighting our lazy tendencies is important as we strive to fulfill them.