If you are like me, you have amazing intentions to do great and meaningful things this year. I love new beginnings and starting over. And I’ve actually accomplished quite a bit of good in the Januaries of my life! I just need to translate that greatness to the other eleven months of the year.
As I consider this struggle, I think my resolutions tend to overlook a basic trait I have that is common to all humanity: I am lazy by nature. I don’t naturally do things that are hard or difficult. It is not natural for me to enjoy the hard work it takes to do something significant. I want it to be easy and would love pixie dust to handle all the difficult tasks I have to do to make an impact on the world!
To take this further, I don’t believe I’m alone in my proclivity toward laziness. Even the most productive, high-performance, impactful people on the planet don’t naturally get up everyday to enjoy another 4am workout, to make that next call, to say “no” to the juicy burger, or to tackle that next challenge in front of them. Believe it or not, they are lazy by nature, too.
Look at professional athletes (to take just one example). We know they are lazy because we see what happens to them after they leave the sport. While they are performing, sure they have systems around them that help make it easier to stay in shape. They have coaches. They have teammates. They are in a place that promotes their performance goals.
But, without a system around them helping them stay in good shape, they take the easy route. They leave the sport and—because they are lazy like the rest of us—they no longer do what it takes to stay in shape…and we can see it. Just look up before and after pictures of Michael Jordan or Mike Tyson.
So…here’s the point: If we naturally gravitate toward doing what is easy, our job is to leverage our laziness to help us.
We can do that a couple of ways. First, make it easy to do the things that matter to us. Since we are lazy by nature, we’ll end up doing those things more. I eat better when I have quick snacks ready to go in baggies, portioned out, or cut up. If my workout clothes are already laid out with my shoes, it is easier for my lazy self to say, “Yes!”
Second, make it hard to do things we want to avoid. If spending is a problem, I can literally freeze my credit cards in a block of ice. It better be worth it for me to spend the time to get that one out. To cut down on my TV time, I can take the batteries out of the remote(s) and put them on a shelf in the garage. Since I’m lazy, I’m probably not going to get up every single time. This is especially true since I already put my open Bible right there on my arm rest. I might as well go ahead and read a few more chapters.
“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” –Ephesians 5:15-17