Working at being lazy

I hate being lazy. If you ever accused me of being lazy I would react like a crazy person: I’d launch into some serious defensive behaviour and recite a long list of things to beat back your accusation until you agreed with me that I am, if anything, the exact opposite of lazy.

No one has ever actually called me lazy, probably because they can intuit that might be my response, and they love their life.

I think maybe I have a problem here. In fact, I know I do. Feeling lazy is for me an “Unbearable Feeling” (this is a term from Dave Riddell, and the concept is so fruitful, read more here), or as a counsellor recently called it an “emotional allergy”.*

Why? Well, there’s some childhood stuff there that’s contributed to it, but mostly it’s an expression of my innate personality. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a One on the Enneagram, so I am all about looking for improvement and pursuing perfection. This can be a real strength when it’s operating healthily, but when it’s not it can really wear you out.

I like to do all the things, and to do them all well. I know that line from the various hymns and songs, “you do all things well” is actually about God, but I seem to have appropriated it for myself as a life goal.

Turns out you can’t do all the things, and you can’t do them all well. Apply yourself as hard as you like, it just isn’t sustainable. When you’re working with limited capacities, limited time, limited energy, and limited resources you simply can’t do all things well.

So this is where you have to get selective. Picky even.

When I first heard someone refer to The Lazy Genius I was a bit taken aback by that name. Like, how can “lazy” be a label you would choose for yourself? And why on earth would I want to be that too?

I love it though. Kendra is all about “Being a genius about the things that matter and lazy about the things that don’t”. That is gold for a perfectionist like me. There are some things that I can intentionally choose to be lazy about – say what?!

Now I know that there are many things I am lazy about. My eyebrows. My nails. Dusting. Large sections of my garden. But I don’t like that. Well, I didn’t like it. Now I am learning to make peace with it. And to not just learn to be OK with where life has forced me to not do those things well because I simply haven’t got the time, but to CHOOSE laziness.

I head Jon Acuff say this on a podcast** recently,

“If you feel like you’re being lazy you’re probably on the border of bring kind to yourself”

John Acuff


Now that’s probably not true for everyone. We’re all different, and the fact that I struggle this might be ridiculous to you. But a struggle it is.

So I’m working at choosing the things I want to do well, letting some things be just passable, and letting other things slide altogether. You figure out what things fall into each category by asking yourself about your values – what really matters to you – and the season you’re in.

What about you? What’s something you’re more than happy to be lazy about?

*Counselling is a good idea, even if you’re getting by fine, and your issues are more in the category of emotional “first world problems”. I want better than fine. It’s worth investing money in, and it’s worth getting vulnerable about.

**To hear more of Jon Acuff talking to Jen Hatmaker about being honest about our goals and kinder to ourselves, even when our efforts come up short of our expectation, I heartily recommend this podcast. I’ve listened to it twice through already, and I’ll be going back for more.


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