This might be an unpopular opinion, but I find that the word “lazy” is overused. It’s a surprisingly harsh little insult, implying that the person it’s aimed at has the full ability to do whatever they want but chooses not to. Not only that, but it’s an insult people frequently hurl at themselves as justification for what they see as their own personal failure.
With discipline, anyone can become a “hardworking person.” It’s all a matter of finding the work that fills you with a sense of purpose, then developing patterns and routines around that work. Just as no one is naturally lazy, persistence comes with time!
It’s not easy to teach yourself discipline, but by focusing on what you want for your greater life, you can build skills that will make work seem fulfilling rather than draining.
Work Around What you Love, not What you Hate
Not all “work” is created equal, and not everything we’ve grown up believing needs to follow us into adulthood. Before stressing yourself out over tedious work you despise, take a moment to investigate other methods of getting the job done.
At home, investigate what some of your least favorite chores are and see if you can find a way around them.
For example, my least favorite chore has always been sweeping. My dog is a fantastic little creature, but I swear, he sheds approximately a half-pound of fur every day. The longer I went without sweeping, the more the hair gathered, making me even less likely to clean!
The grosser my floors were, the less likely I was to dust. Why bother dusting until the floors are clean, right? The dustier my house got, the more embarrassed I was to have people over.
The more reluctant I was to let anyone see my house, the less social I was. The less social I was, the more I hated my dusty, fur-covered home. You get the picture.
The solution: I bought a Roomba.
By setting a robot vacuum to handle my least favorite chore, I freed up more time for the chores I liked doing. The snowball effect led me to a much cleaner, happier home!
The first step in becoming a hard-working person is to create work that you love rather than placing all your anxieties on the work you hate.
Focus on the Larger Purpose
In the workplace, you may find yourself doing more than your fair share of labor. Before allowing yourself to suffer burnout, think about what you can do to alleviate the steadily building stress. Have a conversation with your boss or coworkers about what you may feel is an uneven distribution of labor.
It’s also entirely possible that you may be the one responsible for your workplace stress.
As a teacher, I feel that pressure all too viscerally. The more hours I spent pouring over essays, checking multiple times for minute grammatical errors, the less emotional energy I had to give my students. I could feel myself growing short with them, losing patience over minor annoyances that I’d usually ignore.
I realized that I had to make a change. I had to focus on the larger purpose, which in my case, was definitely not essays.
In my case, being the patient, measured teacher my students needed was more important than providing essay feedback within a twenty-four-hour period.
Think about why you must do the work you’ve been given. Whether that work is keeping a comfortable home for your family, helping construct houses, defending a client in court, or teaching students, there is likely a more profound purpose beyond the daily grind. When you can feel your motivation to work being scrubbed away, take a step back and focus on the deeper purpose.
Easier said than done, right?
As hard as it can be, you have absolutely got to stop procrastinating if you hope to become a hardworking person.
Procrastination is a tricky subject. Though we usually know what is best for ourselves and our greater happiness, the more critical it is, the less likely we want to do it. There’s a disconnect between what we know we should do and what we can muster up the motivation for.
If you struggle with procrastination, take some time to think about what area of your life you most struggle with and why.
Let’s go back to my previous examples:
- I found myself putting off the chore of sweeping until my home was practically covered in dog hair. When I thought about why I hated sweeping so much, I realized that I found myself expending more energy trying to gather the light, fluffy fur from floating away from my broom than I did simply picking up the usual dirt or dust. A vacuum cleaner eliminated this problem and made the chore less dreadful.
- I placed pressure on myself to finish grading as many as fifty to seventy essays within a short amount of time. I assumed that if I didn’t give my students thorough, immediate feedback, they wouldn’t build on their skills. The tradeoff was my patience and time to invest in personal relationships with my students. The solution here was to grade essays using writing conferences instead, which allowed more effective one-on-one tutoring time and reduced the amount of grading I had to complete.
By getting to the root of your procrastination, you can eliminate the problem at the source! If you dread your work to the point where your mental health is suffering, it’s time to make a change.
Remember: Rest is Productive
When you find yourself getting worn down, it’s time to stop and allow yourself to take a break.
Remember that, even if it doesn’t feel like you’re actively doing anything, rest is its own form of productivity!
Studies have shown that by allowing workers an extra day of rest, companies could increase overall productivity even with reduced hours. By allowing yourself to rest, you’re recharging your batteries, ensuring that you can better, more efficiently do the work you need to do.
Burnout is real, and it can have dire consequences. If you’ve found yourself in a lucky enough situation to be doing real work worth doing, don’t mess it up by working yourself to the bone!