I was lazy once. For probably nearly 20 years. I thought that reading books is a dull activity performed by people who don’t have social lives; Exercising is only if you want to compete for Mr. Olympia; Time management and productivity are just fancy words smart people add inside their textbooks in order to make them sound important; Graduating from college will nail me a high paying job that’s why I don’t have to do anything else. I’ve spent my teenage years doing what every average student is doing around the world: Drinking and watching TV shows all day.
When I was a little boy, between the age of 4 and 9, I’ve spent every summer with my grandma in our little village house near our hometown. We had a couple of acres of land. My grandma was growing several different types of vegetables and even though it was my summer vacation I was working alongside my grandma for most of the day.
We get up around 07:00 AM to water the plants. Then to plant seeds. Then to fix something that wasn’t working properly. To make ourselves something to eat. There was always something to do. At the end of the day I was exhausted, but happy.
The only entertainment was our radio station.
A few years later, my parents bought us (me and my brother) a PC and everything changed. I no longer wanted to go with my grandma to our village house and to work in the field. I wanted to play video games.
I think about laziness a lot these days.
I don’t know if you noticed, but the people are becoming less productive each following year. They don’t push themselves. Their attention is easily distracted. They avoid labor and hard work like a plague.
Personally, I’m worried that eventually there won’t be people that you can call to fix your air-conditioning, your car, change your keyhole because everyone will be working as a Youtubber or will Instagram for a living.
These thoughts made me wanna think about why people nowadays are lazier than before, hence this post.
What is procrastination and laziness?
Even though procrastination and laziness are not quite the same things, I do believe they mean similar outcome. That is: not finishing tasks that you were supposed to do.
Procrastination usually turns ON when we need to do something that requires hard work (i.e., getting up earlier, writing, doing physical work that is tiring). This act, procrastination, make us do something that is a lot easier than the original task while fooling our brain with stuff like: “I will only check this video and I’ll start writing again.”
If the mind of the person telling the above to himself is not well trained, it will surely agree with the statement and take this “short” break and postpone everything else.
The strange thing is that we procrastinate even when we need to do something important. Even when our future depends on this.
Why are people being lazy and procrastinate?
In short, because people lack self-control.
When we’re working on something, this thing is usually something that we’ll enjoy in the future. For example, you’re working every day to get a paycheck only once per month. On the day you get the money you’re feeling rewarded for your efforts but the other 29 (30) days you’re a step away from quitting your job.
James Clear is describing it perfectly in his article about procrastination: Imagine for a moment that you have two selves: Present Self and your Future Self.
Working hard today, not eating burgers, drinking water instead of a couple of drinks are all things that only your Future Self will enjoy. But the Present Self doesn’t like this. It wants that burger now and it doesn’t give a damn that 5 months from now you’ll be thinner and you’ll feel better. Your Future self will enjoy those things, not your Present self.
You’re setting goals for the Future Self but in reality, the Present Self needs to do all the hard work.
If you lack self-discipline you’ll forget your future plans and you’ll focus only on things that make you happy today: drinking, going out, watching funny videos on social media, kissing strangers, oversleeping, overeating.
That’s why the number one reason we’re procrastinating our day to day duties even when these things are important for your career and for our health, is our lack of self-confidence, responsibility, determination, grit.
This usually happens for one of the reasons below:
You are not born with chronic procrastination. I personally don’t think that chronic procrastination should be listed as a disease in general. It’s simply multiplied laziness.1 People who are lazy use this term as an excuse, to justify their laziness with this so-called disease.
But this doesn’t happen overnight, in a lot of cases this nasty habit emerges when we’re younger.
If your parents were over protecting you while you were a child; They were buying you everything you wanted; You were spoiled little kid that was screaming and crying every time he didn’t get what he wanted, you’re most probably a chronic procrastinator. At least that’s your excuse for not doing your job.
Imagine the expression silver spoon to understand this better which means “To be spoiled. Have many luxuries without earning them on their own. Usually by one’s parents.”
If that’s the case, there is a huge chance that you’ll grow quite dependent from the other people – most probably your parents. You will also think that others need to serve you because you were raised this way.
Naturally, you will think that people should all love you and respect you because this was the normal behavior toward you for a number of years.
All of this will lead to a life where you’re expecting things to happen easily, without a lot of efforts. Therefore you will lay down, work when it’s absolutely necessary but you won’t push yourself much. You’ll expect a high salary only because you are, well, you.
You lack ambition
You lack the desire to achieve something. You think that everything is already invented (i.e. you have a fixed mindset).
Lack of ambition is also usually lack of real direction in life. You don’t know what to do that’s why you’re not doing anything.
The combination of the two:
There are so many other things you can do Nowadays
When you’re close to a computer or your smartphone, you feel this urge. You know that only an inch is separating you from a wonderland. A place where everything is possible.
If you’re laying around in your bed and you’re not quite sure what you want to do, you can simply open your phone/laptop and do “something.”
You can watch a YouTube video; Play a game on your phone; Chat with a friend; Read the latest news about the celebrity you’re fond of; See someone wearing new sneakers and decide that you need the same pair which turns into a savage search for the best price.
The cost for infinitive entertainment these days is quite low: you get a phone and you pay for internet. These two give you access to unlimited data of games, articles, videos, porn, movies, chats. All of those you can perform from the comfort of your home. Basically, the access to all this information gives you thousands of ways to procrastinate.
You can easily get gratification these days
If you’re feeling depressed, you think that no one loves you, you don’t have enough money to go on vacation, you can easily change this fact thanks to social media.
You can share a photo of you wearing your latest shirt and hashtag “dress to impress” or “good vibes”. Or, you can go extreme and share a picture of you wearing only thongs. That’s how you get thousands of followers on Instagram.
Once the likes and the comments start piling up you will feel a lot better. Once the feeling fades away, you can simply repeat the same procedure:
Take a photo > Share > Get likes > Feel good > Repeat.
Why bother doing something else, something meaningful with your life when the little notification bar on your Facebook account is giving you enough joy, right?
Everybody else is doing it
We’re not all leaders.
Actually, most of the people in the world are followers. Why? Because it’s easier. It’s easy to follow what everyone else is doing than actually doing something different. Invent something new. Something that can help you become a bit better or improve the world in a way.
If your friends are smoking there is a huge chance you’re smoking as well. If your friends are drinking and going out every day, you’ll probably do the same. If they talk shit about other people, guess what, you’ll do the same.
Since the majority of the population is focused on living the easy life, the average life, why do something different?
Different nowadays means more work. You can’t be different by posting the same photos but you don’t quite care because the alternative is to actually get up and do some work.
Procrastination and laziness are boosted by everything else you tell yourself. All excuses you’re inventing and telling yourself to avoid the work. They feed their mind with stuff like these:
- I will do it a bit later;
- I will start next week;
- I don’t have enough skills to write a book;
- I’m born fat, I can’t lose weight;
- You only live once, why waste time improving when you can travel and eat whatever you want;
What are the consequences of procrastination?
Even though it might seem that there is nothing wrong with playing video games all day if you can afford this, there is.
There are several outcomes which you won’t quite like if you’re considering yourself as a chronic procrastinator:
- You’ll most probably gain a lot of weight – get fat.
- You might lose your job. If you’re doing an average job sooner or later people will notice that and will get rid of you.
- You’ll be in a lot of debt because of all the toys you’re buying like crazy.
- You’ll most probably get sick often. Your lack of physical activities will make you vulnerable to a lot of diseases.
- Your set of skills will become obsolete and it will be harder for you to get a job in the future. If you think of the future at all.
You thought there are none, right? You thought that sitting around and doing nothing all day other than checking social media won’t cost you anything. Sorry to disappoint.
Is There A Cure?
First of all, I’m glad you asked and that you’re still reading this.
Since you are on this page you’re probably looking for some sort of change, which is good.
The cure for chronic procrastination and overcoming it – if you still think that this is real disease or a real condition – is work.
Is getting up every morning and doing the work. Setting goals. Finding something better to do – higher meaning. Getting rid of the things that don’t help you in your life. Using less social media. Analysing your work. Setting daily tasks. Getting rid of nasty habits. Applying different methods to become better.
Is it easy?
Nope. I’m not sorry.
It’s simply the way the world works.
Like Newton’s 3rd law of physics: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The size of the forces on the first object equals the size of the force on the second object. The direction of the force on the first object is opposite to the direction of the force on the second object. Forces always come in pairs – equal and opposite action-reaction force pairs.2
In plain English, this means that if you work you will gain.
You do something, there is an outcome. If what you’re doing is good, it will bring good results and it will make your Future self a better person. If it’s bad, it will trigger a chain of events that will lead to bad things and your Distant Self will have to deal with the consequences.
We should surely reserve a time for a break. A time for some fun activities in our busy days. It’s inevitable. We’re not machines and we shouldn’t strive to become uberly obsessed
The problem is that most people lean towards laziness and procrastination. Social media and video games. Quick chats and juicy burgers.
If you’re too, someone who can’t focus or can’t beat instant gratification think about this for a moment: do you want to please your Present Self and slowly corrupt your future life or you want a bright future filled with joy?
- Photy by Hutomo Abrianto.