You aren't stuck because you're afraid.
Every personal development blogger has written about fear. The fear of succeeding, the fear of failing in public, the fear of being laughed at, the fear of failing, the fear of being afraid. Evidently there is a lot of fear in the personal development community. I'm not going to throw my hat into the fray because I think there is a different explanation as to why people don't accomplish the things they think they want; laziness.
Being afraid removes the responsibility of action. Everybody knows what it's like to be afraid and therefore we can easily empathize with somebody who is fearful. Fear has evolved for a pretty excellent reason, keeping us alive. Thousands of years ago, if you were a fearless human you were probably a dead human as well. Nowadays, people let fear, or what we seem to be describing as fear, keep them from doing awesome things with their lives. Every time I've found myself thinking about why I'm not doing more to move my goals forward or why I seem stuck in a rut, I never think about being afraid. Fear is a function of a dangerous environment and frankly, I don't face much nowadays that is particularly dangerous. In fact, my problem is that I spend a lot of time in extremely comfortable situations. My apartment is cozy. I have some hot coffee by my side. I have enough money to feed myself. Life isn't THAT hard right now. And so, I get lazy. I don't accomplish things, I don't push myself and most importantly, I'm definitely not afraid.
My hypothesis is that you feel lazy a lot more often than you feel afraid. It's OK to admit it. I know I felt a lot better once I realized all of these articles about conquering my fear didn't seem to apply to me. The question, however, is how can I overcome the laziness and use my time most effectively as much as possible? In my experience, these five things are helpful tips to try:
- Get started on something, anything: Motivation seems to be an incredibly inertial beast. It's hard as hell to get moving, but once you get that sucker moving, look out! If you find yourself being incredibly lazy, try finishing the easiest of easy tasks first. Then, tackle something only marginally more difficult. Then, a little bit more difficult. Before you know it, you've eased into your primary project and you have the momentum at your back.
- Change your environment: My body is an idiot. Try as I might to convince it that it's ok to do work at the desk in my apartment, it's convinced that this desk is only for doing fun things. It's nigh impossible to be productive in the same space where I go to relax. So, when I have serious work to do, I have to take my idiot body to the library or a coffee shop. The change of surroundings is what it needs to be convinced to actually get to work. Maybe your body isn't as idiotic as mine, but it's a useful tip to try.
- Look back at past accomplishments: Even the laziest of people have bursts of inspiration. Look back on things you've accomplished in the past as proof that this laziness can be conquered. Sometimes, when I feel particularly lazy I will read through my old blog posts. Every once in awhile I'm moderately impressed by what I've written. Present-Me doesn't like feeling more lazy than Past-Me and the next thing I know the laziness has lifted.
- Read, watch, or listen to something inspirational or motivational: When I am in the depths of laziness, it's easy to feel like everybody is this lazy too. It doesn't make sense, I know. To help me snap out of it, I like to read about inspirational people. Reading about Teddy Roosevelt usually helps. Or, an even quicker fix is to go to TED.com and watch a couple of the videos tagged as "inspirational." Guaranteed pick-me-up.
- Organize and plan: A lot of the time, laziness stems from being unclear about what to do. When it's not clear, it's easy to just mope about and do nothing. Spending some time reviewing my projects, figuring out what I have to do to move them forward, and updating my next action lists is usually enough to get me inspired to work on them. I try to only commit to projects I'm excited about so spending some time thinking and planning helps remind me why I was excited about it in the first place.
Fear isn't holding me back and I don't think it's holding you back. We are all far too intelligent and comfortable to be afraid anymore. As a fellow occasionally lazy person, I don't feel bad for saying it but, you're being lazy. Stop it. Pick one of these five tips (or all five if you're feeling EXTRA lazy) and get your rear in gear.