Want to learn how to stop being lazy? Don't – it won't work.
Here's the thing: You're not actually lazy. There's something else going on with your emotions under the surface that's making you act lazy.
However, although the causes of laziness are often hidden from us, their disastrous consequences are all-too-obvious.
"Laziness erodes a person of his enthusiasm and energy. As a result, the person loses all opportunities and finally becomes dejected and frustrated," says the Sama Veda Kabir, an ancient Vedic Sanskrit text. "The worst thing is that he stops believing in himself."
If this sounds a bit like you, don't worry – this article will teach you how to stop being lazy and unmotivated.
How to Stop Being Lazy and Unmotivated in 8 Simple Steps
There's no point trying to learn how to "fight laziness" – you can’t win if you don’t know what you’re up against.
If you want to know how to stop being lazy, you need to understand why you act lazy in the first place, then develop the emotional regulation tools you need to change.
Here are eight tips to overcome laziness that will show you how to stop being lazy and unmotivated for good:
- Realize that you're not inherently lazy
- Learn the real causes of laziness
- Gain perspective with a simple but powerful question
- Connect with your inner motivation
- Take responsibility and empower yourself
- Create an action plan
- Be kind to yourself
- Track your practice
Alright, let's get started.
Step #1. Realize That You're Not Inherently Lazy
First things first: you're not lazy – your behavior is.
After years of acting in a certain way, it's common to think that "this is just the way I am." However, nothing could be further from the truth.
Repetitive behaviors create habits, and our habits determine the state of our lives – but they don’t define who we are.
Sir Fowell Buxton, the 1st Baronet and 18th-century British politician, said, "Laziness grows on people; it begins in cobwebs and ends in iron chains." These iron chains may feel like they're part of you, but they're not – they're just chains, and you can remove them.
Still, cobwebs are easier to remove than iron chains.
In other words, the longer you've acted lazy, the more challenging it can be to become productive and satisfied – but it's entirely possible!
So, if you're not intrinsically lazy, where does laziness come from?
Step #2. Learn the Causes of Laziness
Do you keep asking yourself, "why am I so lazy and unmotivated?" If so, this section's for you.
When learning how to stop being lazy, you need to know what you're up against. It turns out there are many reasons for laziness. According to Laura D. Miller, LCSW, a licensed psychotherapist and psychoanalyst:
"'Laziness' is an overused criticism – a character judgment, really – that does nothing to help us understand why someone doesn't exert the effort to do what they want to do, or are expected to do, If we take a moment to examine what's behind the procrastination and avoidance, we find a range of more complicated issues."
Miller believes there are seven main causes of laziness:
- Fear of failure
- Fear of success
- Fear of expectations
- Fear of conflict
- Need for nurture
Each of these reasons for laziness stems from a belief we hold about ourselves or life in general.
Here's the aim of the game: Try to figure out what belief (or beliefs) you hold that are creating laziness.
1. Fear of Failure
Do you hate to mess up or fail? Does how you feel depend on your performance? When this happens, we become afraid of failure.
In this state, failure isn't seen as a necessary part of learning and growing – it's viewed as a fact about our character. We don't think, "I failed this once and can learn from it," instead, we believe, "I am a failure."
With this kind of pressure, it's no wonder we don't want to take action. Extreme laziness protects us from the pain of feeling like a failure.
2. Fear of Success
As odd as it may seem, many people fear success.
Often, people who fear success hold a low opinion of themselves and don't believe that they're worthy of success, recognition, happiness, financial freedom, or joy.
Remember, no matter how hard we try we can't act in opposition to our core beliefs.
If we genuinely believe that we don't deserve success or happiness, it won't matter what we do. Our subconscious mind will drive us to act in a way that ensures we’re never successful or happy.
3. Need for Rest and Recuperation
Many people believe they should squeeze productivity out of every minute of the day and feel guilty when they don't.
So, what's driving them?
Although there are many reasons, these people are often driven to “do” because their productivity defines their self-worth.
But here's the thing: If our bodies, hearts, or minds need rest, they will find a way to get it – often by forcing us to act lazy. In this instance, we need to take care of ourselves and make time to relax guilt-free.
So, when learning how to stop being lazy, remember what the businessman Alan Cohen said: "There is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest. Use both and overlook neither."
4. Fear of Expectations
Many people act lazy so that other people don't expect much from them – they want to lower the bar.
There are many reasons they may want to do this. For example, they may fear not measuring up to other people's expectations when it comes to things like performance, wealth, or relationships. They also may fear being judged, or perhaps they don't want to feel beholden or controlled by others.
5. Fear of Conflict
Fearing conflict with others can create laziness in several ways.
Some people who avoid conflict will bottle-up their feelings of anger and resentment and may use laziness as a way to be passive-aggressive. However, this very tactic can cause even more conflict.
6. Need for Nurture
We all need to feel loved, cared for, and supported.
When we don't experience these vital emotions in our relationships, laziness can be a way to force the other person to pay more attention to us. For example, if we don't do our laundry, our partner might get fed up and do it for us, which could make us feel cared for and supported.
Of course, this unconscious behavior to get our emotional needs met pushes our loved ones away over time.
7. Depression and Anxiety
Finally, there's a chance that you could be unmotivated and acting lazy due to depression or anxiety. Depression and anxiety are often mistaken for laziness or disinterest.
If you feel like you may be depressed or unreasonably anxious, there's no shame in seeking help. There are plenty of resources available online and in your local community.
Step #3. Gain Perspective with a Simple Question
Once you've identified the causes and symptoms of laziness, it's time to work on your mindset. A great way to start is to ask yourself:
"What will my life be like in one year, two years, five years, and ten years if I don't make a change?"
This can be an incredibly uncomfortable and scary question. You may realize that you would never achieve your goals or create the relationships you want in life. Perhaps you'll feel a little scared by the answers.
However, if you want to stop being lazy, this question can help clarify the necessity of change – it can help create a sense of urgency to improve yourself.
Don't forget what the leadership coach and author, Marshall Goldsmith, said, "What got you here won't get you there."
Step #4. Connect With Your Inner Motivation
Now that you've identified what you don't want to happen, it's time to determine what kind of life you want.
How do you want to feel? What kind of relationships will you have? What do you want to do? Whether you want to be your own boss or travel the world, get creative – you could even create a vision board.
"Create the highest grandest vision possible for your life, because you become what you believe," said media mogul Oprah Winfrey.
Step #5. Take Responsibility and Empower Yourself
At this point, you should have a clear understanding of where you are and where you want to be.
Now, before you start working towards the life you want, you need to take back control of your life – to remember how capable and powerful you can be.
How can you do this? It's simple: Take responsibility for your future.
It doesn't matter where you are, what life's like, or how badly you've been treated in the past: It's your life, so you're responsible for improving it.
As the entrepreneur and author Stephen R. Covey said, "I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions."
Step #6. Create an Action Plan
There are many different ways to stop being lazy, so you need to create a roadmap to navigate to the life you want.
To find out what you need to do, get inspiration from people you admire – what do they do to succeed and be happy? What do they suggest?
Once you've created an action plan, focus on taking action consistently.
The famous self-help author Dale Carnegie said, "Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy."
Step #7. Be Kind to Yourself
If you want to learn how to stop being lazy, you must practice self-compassion.
This means that if you make a mistake, waste some time, or can't stop procrastinating, don't beat yourself up. Negative self-talk will only feed the emotions that make you act lazy.
It doesn't matter if you've messed up a million times in the same way – you can't do anything about those times except learn from them and apply the lessons in this moment.
So, practice valuing yourself.
"Until you value yourself, you won't value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it," said the psychiatrist and author Morgan Scott Peck.
Step #8. Track Your Practice
Finally, learning how to be less lazy requires practice – and every small effort matters.
Vincent Van Gogh, the famous impressionist painter, said, "Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together."
However, when trying to make small, consistent changes, it's difficult to measure our actions with our minds alone. We may feel like we're doing brilliantly when in reality, we haven't practiced in days.
So, write things down to keep track of your practice.
For example, you could create a spreadsheet, download a habit tracking app, or even report your progress to a friend or loved one each day.
Remember, you can't control your progress – you can only control your practice. So, don't worry about your progress – that will happen if you practice.
Summary: How to Overcome Laziness
If you're feeling lazy, you may wonder if it's "just who you are." It isn't.
You're not inherently lazy. Instead, there are deeper emotions at play that are leading you to act lazy. Because of this, it's completely possible to learn how to stop laziness for good.
If you want to learn how to stop being lazy and unmotivated, here are eight steps to follow:
- Realize that laziness is a symptom of your emotional state
- Identify what's really making you act lazy
- Explore what life will be like if you don't improve yourself
- Determine what you want life to be like and get motivated
- Empower yourself by taking responsibility for your situation
- Create an action plan to help you create the life you want
- Practice self-compassion and don't dwell on mistakes
- Track your practice and focus on consistent daily wins
To finish, remember that learning how to stop being lazy isn't a quick and easy process – it requires practice, effort, and self-compassion.
However, it's well worth it – as the diarist Anne Frank once wrote, "Laziness may appear attractive, but work gives satisfaction." So, go get some satisfaction!