We all have experienced moments where we feel less energetic and struggle to find motivation. Its normal to feel this way occasionally, but when these moments start occurring more frequently or last for a longer time range, we might begin to view ourselves differently. Our goals begin to lose significance, we find it hard to feel inspired, and we might begin to wonder if we are capable. We may even start tagging ourselves as lazy.
Our ideal self
We all have a picture at the back of our minds of who we want to be, how we ought to behave, goals we want to accomplish, and how we want the world to see us. Ideal self is a psychological concept that refers to the image we have in our minds of how our best self would act, feel or look like. Our ideal self is usually an image filled with productivity and accomplishments of specific goals, healthy behaviours, perfect relationships and more. Unfortunately, our busy lives don’t often afford us the luxury of reflecting on our ideal self, and over time it gets lost in the shuffle, boxed up somewhere with our childhood responses to “what would you like to be when you grow up?”
You are not alone
If you feel unproductive or lazy at times, you’re certainly far from alone. Studies have revealed that only 8 percent of persons who set a New Year’s resolution actually accomplish their intended goal. In fact, 1 out of 4 persons barely make it past the first week before hanging their boots
What occurs that makes it so hard to hang in there, remain productive, and work towards achieving your desired goals?
There are lots of things that can hinder our productivity and goals accomplishments, leaving us to view ourselves as “lazy.” Sometimes, the stumbling blocks are situational or related to opportunity and timing, while other times we may be creating the barriers ourselves with our mindset, approach or our methods.
Old habits die hard
In order to quit our “lazy” patterns and make real progress, we need to identify what might be influencing our inability to achieve our goals or leaving us less productive than we ought to be. So what your might tag “lazy,” might just be a matter of changing your approach and ridding yourself of old, unhelpful habits that have kept you from achieving your goals and feeling productive.
Here are some of those habits that can hinder us from reaching our goals. If anything on this list appears familiar; be assured, you’re far from alone.
Making your goals too complicated or big: We all want to reach the summit, but we might grossly underestimate the time and effort involved to get up there. If we throw in the towel after a few hours, it doesn’t mean we’re lazy but because we may have realised we miscalculated the effort and time it’ll take.
Expecting ourselves to be perfect
When we’re trying to accomplish a goal, we expect the path to be consistent and smooth when, in reality, the road towards our goal is most likely going to be filled with setbacks, twists, and turns
Listening to our inner critic
If the word “lazy” is part of your self-talk, there are likely more critical and negative statements produced by your inner critic on a daily basis. In an attempt to motivate yourself, you might even bring out your inner critic. What happens? Your critical voice preys on your shortcomings and flaws rather than focusing on any positive attribute and existing strengths that you could enable you to move forward.
Listening to criticism from others
As we learn about the world and ourselves through our experiences, we are getting feedback from others that assist in moulding our self-concept. When someone dear to us has called us “lazy” sometime in the past, it can really influence how we see ourselves in at adulthood. We might also encounter people in our adult life who criticise our efforts, leaving us to feel discouragement or self-doubt.
Not creating a plan of action
When we’re inspired and get excited about a new goal, we can forget the significance of planning. Our enthusiasm for the target can cause us to act swiftly and with a lot of passion but turn into feeling aimless and a sense of being overwhelmed.
What to start doing
Fortunately, there are lots of attainable steps to take in order to turn the tables or stay on track with your goals.
Create small, achievable goals
You can still desire to reach great heights, but chop that gigantic goal down into smaller goals that will make you feel more accomplished and inspired to climb higher. As you imagine the big picture, think of the little vital steps that will enable you to get there and jot them down. If necessary, split those small steps into smaller or short-term plans. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Take time to devise a plan
Sit yourself down for a moment and reflect on your goals and desires, taking into consideration those small and achievable steps you will need to take to get there. Be realistic about the money, time, effort, help and other factors involved in fulfilling this desire. Diving into the process with a practical action plan will boost your confidence level, as well as give you something to fall back to when you have a setback or feel discouraged.
Focus on your strengths
If you’re used to an inner critic that only sees your shortcomings and flaws, you will find it very helpful in taking inventory of your strengths and achievements. Does it seem difficult to think of any personal strength? Think of any challenge you’ve faced and think of what personal powers you used to tackle the situation. If you still find it hard to pinpoint strengths, ask family and friends what they see and your greatest strength.
Celebrate the small victories
Celebrating victories as you achieve small goals or even as you overcome setbacks can boost your confidence in achieving more. The pride we feel in meeting our target can help produce more positive self-talk. We experience increased self-efficacy with every achievement, which can be helpful in finding long-term success.
It’s totally fine to ask for support along the way. We’re more successful when connected to important people in a healthy, positive way. Allow those important support persons to be part of your journey. You may want them to celebrate achievements with you along the way or may need to turn to them for support when faced with obstacles or setbacks. Finding encouragement and reassurance from important people in our lives can enable us to develop better resiliency.
Your physical health
How we take care of ourselves physically can also influence our feeling of laziness. We can work to challenge our negative thought patterns and learn new goal planning habits. But we also need to take into consideration, the things we do for our bodies. Managing our physical health can aid in setting the stage for increased energy which, in turn, can enable us to start implementing these other positive changes.
What we eat has a significant effect on how energetic we feel. When our tight schedules don’t give room for food planning and preparation, we may find ourselves searching for quick alternatives, alternative s that offer little nutritional value to assist us in maintaining adequate energy levels. For example, foods rich in protein can help our bodies keep a more stable blood sugar level and save us from experiencing a drastic rise and drop in energy levels throughout the day.
Example of drink and food that help boost energy include:
- Dark leafy greens
Examples of drinks and food that can decrease energy levels include:
- French fries
- Sugary drinks
Although sugar-packed foods can supply us a temporary energy boost, it is very short-lived and can leave us feeling our energy bars have run out. Our energy levels can also be affected by the timing of our snacks and meals. Consuming smaller meals during the day can assist us in maintaining a steady energy level, compared to consumer larger, heavier meals that often leave us feeling tired
The last thing we would like to do when we are feeling lazy and tired is exercise. However, warming your muscles can help boost energy levels and overall feelings of productivity. Studies have revealed that even just low to moderate levels of workouts can significantly impact our energy levels, aiding the reduction of fatigue.
Ways to incorporate more workouts can include:
- Jogging with a friend
- Walking your dog
- Hiking with a group
- Trying a new yoga class
- Attending a group fitness class
Our sleep routines can to a great extent, influence our energy levels. If you tend to feel lazy or find yourself taking longer naps during the day, you might think you’re not getting adequate sleep time at night. Creating a healthy sleep pattern can help you maintain a stable sleep schedule and in turn, help you feel more balanced and energised to handle tasks and be more productive. If you are a napper or an owl at night, the transition could take a lot of effort. However, being able to kick start your day bursting with energy and being able to maintain that energy throughout the day would make your effort worthwhile.
Things to consider in your sleep care routine
- Limit caffeine after lunchtime
- Aim for 8 hours of sleep every night
- Reduce screen time at least an hour before bedtime
- Try to go to bed around the same time every
Being over occupied with commitments from multiple areas of our lives and render us physically and emotionally drained. In these moments we may find it hard to make decisions and take active steps because we are exhausted. Feelings of exhaustion can make us assume we’re lazy, but in reality, we’re just overwhelmed and stressed.
Some beneficial ways to manage your stress include:
- Looking for reasons to laugh or smile more often
- Incorporating movement and exercise into your daily routine
- Practising meditation or prayer daily
- Increasing your social support
An important aspect of stress management is making sure we’re using our time wisely. It can be pretty easy to say “yes” to our spouse, our children, our friends and co-workers. We dispense so much yes up to the point where we realise that we might not be able to fulfil up to half of the commitments made. Reflect on how and where you’re spending your time and take stock of unfinished tasks on your to-do list. Consider when and where you can politely say no so you can divert that time to other important things that require your energy and attention.
If you’re new to the idea of setting boundaries, the first couple of steps to take would be to permit yourself to do it and to begin with small things. You may be worried about how people will respond to this change, but that’s totally fine. Remember that your main aim here is to improve self-care, boost energy and feel empowered to complete the goals and tasks that are important to you. Creating time for yourself is paramount, and setting little boundaries around your time will aid you in doing just that.
Don’t get distracted with comparison
Finally, when the feeling of laziness creeps in, it is normal to look around and think everyone else except you is getting it right. Don’t allow yourself to get entangled in the distraction of comparing yourself to others. Remember, our inner critic is a stumbling block to our productivity and can make us feel stuck. Allow yourself to appear differently in your life and don’t forget that the journey is uniquely yours.
Taking little steps towards better self-care, improved goals, proper planning, increased energy and healthy boundary setting can help you banish the feeling of laziness in no time.
Setting priorities and taking consistent action steps are necessary for long term change, and there is no better time to take those first steps than now.