You’re Not Lazy, Bored, or Unmotivated

You’re Not Lazy, Bored, or Unmotivated

I don’t know you, but I know this: You have
internet access, and enough time to spend some of it watching. It sounds obvious, but this tells me two more
important things about you: One, you’re in the top half of humanity’s wealth distribution,
because the other half of the world’s population isn’t even online yet. And two, since you’re here, you’re likely
fighting a very modern human fight. You’ve probably already got the basics covered
— food, a roof over your head. For you, the obstacles to a better, happier
life aren’t all concrete. You’re trying to defeat more abstract enemies:
laziness, boredom, self-doubt, procrastination. Here’s the thing: All these concepts are
one and the same. And there’s only one way to deal with them. You’re not lazy. You’re not bored. You’re not unmotivated. What you are — what all of us are — is
afraid. And the best advice for overcoming fear is
the bland three-word sentence Nike turned into the most successful marketing slogan
of all time: Just do it. “I’m not motivated” is never a true
statement. Not motivated to do what? Work? In that case, aren’t you motivated to avoid
it? Every action human beings ever take is driven
by some kind of incentive, whether it’s money, or happiness, or peace, or satisfying
your conscience. Your motivation may not always be obvious,
but it’s always there. If you hate every second of the workday, you’re
not unmotivated to change your job. But you haven’t, which means there’s something
holding you back. For some reason, it feels like you can’t
make the change. It’s too hard, requires too much effort,
makes you too vulnerable to rejection. So you don’t even try. But that’s entirely different from not being
motivated, and it’s only a sign that it’s time to dig into this feeling. I once struck up a chat on Tinder with a woman
who was a scrum master and a physiologist. She was in business school, but, really, she
wanted to study fashion and launch her own creative company. In short, she was a fascinating person. When I asked her why she even used the app,
she spoke the most common lie in the world: “I’m bored.” How do I know it was a lie? Because no one is ever bored anymore. There’s no reason to be. Most of us don’t even choose to try. We’re 100% connected, 100% of the time. We just pretend to be bored so we can keep
filling our days with meaningless distractions, like small talk on Tinder, because we know
what lies beneath the stillness: existential dread. Go through the door of boredom, and that’s
what you’ll find. The great scientist and mathematician Blaise
Pascal once said: “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly
in a room alone.” You’re not bored. You’re terrified of being alone with yourself
in your own head. Laziness is the scapegoat of everyone who’s
trying to capitalize on your claim of “being bored.” “You’re not bored — you’re boring!”
is what they’ll tell you. You need a hobby, or a calling, or a $250
fitness program with a personalized meal plan. This, too, is nonsense. Laziness, like boredom, doesn’t exist. As psychology professor Devon Price has explained:
“No one wants to feel incapable, apathetic, or ineffective. If you look at a person’s action (or inaction)
and see only laziness, you are missing key details.” What looks like laziness or self-sabotage
is almost always something else — a lack of confidence, an unmet need. Once again, it’s not a lack of motivation,
an inexplicable unwillingness to act, that obstructs your path to success and happiness. It’s the invisible boundaries in your head
that you’re tripping over — sometimes without ever moving at all. Laziness, boredom, procrastination — all
of these are symptoms of the same disease. My dad once told me this story: A colleague
was driving to an appointment with a customer. As he was overtaking a truck, the truck moved
into his lane. Seeing his car get crushed from the passenger
side and compressing towards him, his animal instincts kicked in. Unleashing an ancient roar at the top of his
lungs, he ripped out the gear lever of his automatic gearbox with one hand. Clearly, we’re not talking about breaking
off a knob on your radio. It’s a heavy, difficult-to-break piece of
machinery. That’s the power of fear. It can make you do unimaginable things. Now imagine turning this same power not onto
your physical environment, but against your own mind. That’s what we tend to do when faced with
a struggle — we take this unbelievable source of raw power and turn it on ourselves. We do it by self-medicating, by concocting
and treating powerful symptoms, like laziness and boredom. Instead of seeing everyone rip their gear
levers out of their cars, we see them staring at their phones on the subway, or procrastinating
on a deadline by bingeing TV, or getting dragged into dumb fights on social media. We’re all afraid of something; we just choose
to medicate that fear differently. The number of things you can be afraid of
is endless. You’re afraid of dying early from a plane
crash or an armed robbery or a natural disaster or a newly discovered parasite, even though
the odds strongly suggest you won’t. You’re afraid of being alone because of
existential dread, but also because it looks weird and gets weird looks, and if your parents
haven’t asked why you’re still single yet, your friends most certainly have. You’re afraid of writing the first chapter
of your book, because who thinks that’ll ever work out? But you’re also afraid of wasting 10 more
hours watching Game of Thrones, especially now that you’ve already seen the whole thing
twice. You’re afraid of never being rich, but not
nearly as much as you’re afraid of losing whatever you already have. I could keep going all day. Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of
looking stupid, fear of losing something or someone, fear of fear, fear of wasting time,
fear of not being good enough, smart enough, attractive enough. In order to deal with all these fears, you
could buy a new book from a new guru each week, collect a stunning array of probably-placebo
supplements on your shelf, churn through organizational systems and mantras and resolutions. Or, you could wake up and realize that all
these fears are the same thing. Fear is the same dark creature that’s always
plagued us, and it will continue to invent new tricks till kingdom come. You have to find a way to live in spite of
it. That dog is going to keep chasing you until
you die. And some days, it will get to you. But you have to keep moving. Forever. The day you run into the bright light at the
end of the tunnel, I want you to look back and give the finger to that dog trailing behind. I’m no more qualified to talk about fear
than any random guy you’d meet on the street. I don’t have a degree in psychology, or
even formal training as a writer. But, like you, I have lived with fear my whole
life. And, somehow, I’ve still arrived in a place
where I have a job I love, lots of time to spend how I want, and a general sense of happiness. I have my own issues to resolve, but I feel
okay taking life one day at a time. And that’s what it’s about. Beat the dog again and again. And again. My theme for this year is ‘focus.’ Across all areas of my life, I’m trying
my best to drill down to what really matters: projects, people, how I manage my time and
my energy. And the one thing that has helped me show
up consistently in spite of fear is some version of Nike’s annoyingly obvious slogan: Just
Do It. Because besides being annoyingly obvious,
it’s also universally, inescapably true. “Just Do It” isn’t an elegant solution. It’s not dismissive or snobby, but empowering
and humble. It’s motivation. Inspiration. Action. Energy. People don’t realize how deep this slogan
is. “If it were that easy, don’t you think
everybody would ‘just do it?’” No, no, no. That’s not what it’s about. It’s about something Marcus Aurelius told
himself 2,000 years ago: “You must build up your life action by action, and be content
if each one achieves its goal as far as possible — and no one can keep you from this.” If all we did was focus on the task right
in front of us, we’d accomplish 99% of our goals and then some. Sure, we’d still have to pause and reflect
on occasion, and not all goals would turn out to be worth chasing in the first place,
but we’d get there. This is everything. The whole strategy. You don’t have time for big picture concerns
when you’re “doing”. And I don’t mean running around all day
like a rat in a maze. I mean steadily engaging and re-focusing on
the task at hand. A strategy is a long-term approach to getting
what you want. It’s a set of behaviors you’re committed
to, a line of principles you’re unwilling to compromise. Using “Just Do It” as the strategy, the
operating system of your life, means committing to figuring it out on your own. You chase your goals based on what you believe
in. If you think art should be free, then make
art for free and get sponsors or donors. If you don’t believe in remote work, rent
an office and hire locally. “Just Do It” is the best advice because
it’s the only advice that works. When I started writing, I gave lots of specific
tips in my articles: how to set goals, have a morning routine, be productive. But specifics are full of hindsight bias. I’m only giving you the final 10% that worked,
and that worked for me in particular. The messy 90% of the journey that led me there? I left that out completely. And my specific advice is only going to work
for a tiny fraction of people who happen to be in the right place at the right time and
for whom it will click immediately. Everyone else who still needs to go through
the random 90% in their journey will be left out in the cold. Still feeling alone, still stuck with their
fears. Except now, they’re disappointed too. “Just Do It” may not be perfect, but at
least it clears the air from the start: Yes, you are alone, but you also have everything
you could ever need to figure things out. You will make many mistakes, but since no
one on this planet can give you the perfect answers to the questions created by your own
unique circumstances, choosing for yourself and continuing to move forward is not just
the best thing you can do, it’s also the only thing. A tactic is a short- to medium-term course
of action that helps you live up to your strategy. “Just Do It” as a tactic is refusing to
let everyday hurdles get to you, while relentlessly focusing on the next, smallest action you
can control. Your boss didn’t like the presentation? Fine, do it over and show her again. You’ve run out of clients and your freelance
business never really got off the ground? Fine, shut it down and start from scratch. Ghosted on Tinder? Fine, delete the app and try another way of
meeting people. The faster you can re-center after completing
something or getting rattled, the better. Again, this isn’t to say you should never
rest, or that you’ll never have moments where the dog creeps back around the corner
and stares at you with unblinking eyes. It’s to say that, with this focus on moving
forward, you’ll feel more confident in handling it when it does. Make a promise to yourself:
You’re not unmotivated. You’re not lazy. You’re not bored. You are afraid. We are all afraid. And yet, we are still here. So every day, choose to be here, moving forward.


100 thoughts on “You’re Not Lazy, Bored, or Unmotivated”

  • The Art of Improvement says:

    Thanks for watching! If you believe in what I'm doing SUBSCRIBE and consider becoming an Art of Improvement member on YouTube:
    Enjoy 👍

  • Good luck to those who want to prove me that laziness do not exist. My resolution for 2020 is to not click on clickers like that. And btw I'm more than ok with my head

  • Realizing that my problem is fear and not the abstract concepts such as laziness and un-motivation felt really relieving.

    If I'm afraid I only need to be brave, and I am brave for physical fears, then I can be brave against emotional

  • some people can't overcome that "fear" because to some people it's not just "fear"

    if you are procrastinating for exemple , is it fear of failure and efforts ? maybe , but it could also be because you hate that thing you procrastinate about , because it makes you feel never ending enormous amount of horrible pain everytimes you do it (the thing you procrastinate about) , because you hear deafening screams inside and they won't stop unless you stop , so you procrastinate , until you had enough and jump

  • Thank you for this video. I now know what me problem is and I am going to defeat it and become what i was meant to be thank you.

  • "I'm having suicidal thoughts!"

    Just do it

    Doesn't really sound like a good idea now does it? I Guess that's the downside of mass appeal…

  • I think I'm more afraid of whatever I'll do actually works. That freezes me like "what will I do later once it works".

  • Listen, I'm only 3 minutes in, and I already hate this argument. 1. The tinder girl could've very well been bored. It's true we have literal millions of things to occupy ourselves with each day, but most of those arent fun to us anymore. 2. I am lazy. I am bored. I am unmotivated. I'm not afraid. I get this part about me. Is it a good one? No. But it doesnt make me scared of anything. I'm just lazy

    Because I'm not an asshole, I watched all of the video, and I figured it out. What you did, was take a really common thing, (laziness and unmotivation) and thought up too hard of this stuff. I get what you're trying to say, with the fear stuff, but it's not true. Its probably true for some, maybe most, but a lot of people are legitimately just bored and stuff.
    In the video you even said "I'm not a psychologist or someone good to talk about this stuff." I, sincerely suggest you educate yourself on that stuff before you talk about it. Even slightly, enough to understand what you're talking about. And I'm not trying to he an asshole. That's a legit suggestion

  • chips no salsa says:

    This is the most honestly motivating video I've seen in a while. The "if you give up your weak" crap worked when I felt like I was on top of the world, but once I actually experienced failure, all those words did for me was make me feel worse. So thank you for being genuine!!! 😃😃

  • I would disagree with the idea that you cannot be bored. Yes, you aren't bored when you have the device , but that doesn't mean that when you put it away , then you don't become bored and then go back to it as a result. Which is what can happen in my own case.

    That said, it then raises the question as to "why not fill that boredom with something else ?" and there it does start to become more like what is said in this video, but that distinction should be made clear. Boredom is real – the question is regarding why you fill it with what you do. And in that case, indeed, going to your favorite wasters is often as a distraction from unpleasant emotion, including both fear and also anxiety (not quite the same thing): for example, if one is mentally prone to rumination – so you get away from the distracting item and start to enter into your thoughts regarding, whatever, e.g., the possibility you might be getting cancer, or going to prison soon, or whatever else your brain makes up by thinking things through over and over. I've also experienced this one, too.

    Moreover, it might also because you don't see a sufficiently clear or sure way to get or how to actually achieve what you want. And yes, then more direct fear can come into play, too: that of doing it wrongly and bringing serious and potentially difficult-to-remedy consequences upon yourself as a result. Which is augmented by a world where we have created so many extreme, ludicrous consequences for failure, error, and wrongdoing. While arguably there's good reasons for some consequences e.g. as a deterrent against behavior that would endanger or injure others, too much of these, applied too liberally, can deter too well , and incur a new societal cost in people going to inaction which injures in other ways. We have created a toxic system, that doesn't allow or accommodate people in failing even though it's very much natural and normal. We create artificial consequences that are artificially irreparable – and perhaps that too, because of fear: fear of scarcity (in spending the increased resources necessary to enforce a fairer system), and fear of danger (from others' failures victimizing us). Yet we cannot at all live in a world without risk, and efforts to avoid risk may at some point only end up creating other risks, less obvious (the recent row with global heating is a great example – where fear of economic risk has resulted in a potentially major global disaster unfolding over the coming decades.) – in this case, mental paralysis.

    Also, another reason may be also that you are feeling suitably internally worthless, that can also be a killer too – "why bother if there isn't any real point?" – similar to depression-type thinking, too. If you feel the effort is unlikely to reap any reward or result that you value, you won't put it in.

    The general principle is that there is always some kind of counter-motivator, or negative motivator in play. There is a presence of negative emotion, not simply an absence of emotion. Fear may be one in many cases, but so may be others – and I think it a bit too limiting and headpoppy (because of my own personal experience) to phrase it this way.

  • Tyrone Frielinghaus says:

    This is the MOST AMAZING video you've done yet : and for me it comes at precisely the right time : I'm having to make changes urgently now, and this truly is inspiring and really gets to the essence. I'm recommending it to friends. I also like how you note that it's NOT easy to get better (bc I guess one has been doing the wrong/not optimal things for so long). Thanks so much -very thought-provoking.

  • This is the single best self help video I've ever seen. Period. I've seen a lot of em too, from Joe rogan to David goggins to Jordan peterson, but this simple piece of gold is the most useful. Thank you friend🐶🤠

  • I’m a chronic overthinking. I definitely need this simple, straightforward approach. “Just do it.” Can’t really analyze that response too much… 😂Thanks for this.

  • Glory To Arstotzka says:

    I watched the video despite me not having this problem, altough, I think you should've add more specific examples with explanation. for example[ironic I know]: "you keep getting ghosted on tinder, delete the app and find a new way of finding people" well 'just do it' can mean almost anything really, it can mean you not caring about ghosting and still using the app, it can mean deleting the app, or it can mean doing nothing and leaving with it [maybe not]: is the message "embrace changes and do anything just don't waste time" ? I think yes, but it may not be obvious for everyone and I don't blame you, really, there's no way to cover such a "big" topic [by big I mean there are thousand of scenarios linked to it] without being abstract, if you were specific, as you mentioned in the video, it will work for 1% [ to put on realistic numbers, lets say 20-40%]

  • I was thinking about how they should make a way to watch tv or videos but with a contact lense so you can close your eyes so… I think I am in fact lazy

  • Feike van Ammers says:

    I find that if I have time, it's more useful to face the fear directly through self-reflection and/or meditation. When I really see that there is fear there, and that the fear is ungrounded, doing what you wanted to do comes naturally.

  • I didn't really like the first half of this video because I personally think that laziness lack of motivation and boredom exist. However, I am, glad that I stuck with the video because the 2nd half really clicked with me when you made the Dog analogy. Beating the dog every day by completing small goals is one thing that I've been doing lately and it has been working.

  • Haha this video is a bunch if bullshit. The reason people are bored isn't fear. They are bored because the brain is naturally addicted to stimulation (Striatum the reward system of the brain, associated with the limbic system that controls your cortex to do things like having sex, or do drugs, to be stimulated).

    If you don't get stimulated some people may end up killing themselves. The only thing you can do is to find healthy ways to stimulate your brain, some people need more some people need less, and there's nothing you can do about it, other than channeling your addiction to positive things like reading, learning or physical exercise, instead of drugs, sugar, sex, video games and social media etc.

    Have fun, and sex is healthy, just don't get addicted my friend.

  • Адвокат Аркадия Анатольевича says:

    Спасибо за интересное видео. Больше бы таких видео, оно мне помогло понять важные вещи

  • Seems like the default is thinking, but here we are to be forced to just do it. Inevitably we'll fall back into our default, so is there a way out of productivity shaming that isn't forced?

  • "I must not fear.

    Fear is the mind-killer.

    Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.

    I will face my fear.

    I will permit it to pass over me and through me.

    And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.

    Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain."

  • Land Of The Wanderers says:

    Great video. My depression was an anchor for me for many years. Today I would agree that I overthink and start self sabotaging when things don't happen as fast as I feel they should. I am learning to trust the process and be content with doing all that I can vs stressing about the results.

  • just 20 seconds in.. but I'm watching this from a small country village in thailand and almost all young people have smartphones here.. I have a feeling that the statistic that half of the population don't have internet access might be a bit outdated lol

    edit: I'm talking a village without hot water, sanitation system, wifi, and the closest hospital is 50km away… still as I am typing this there are a group of 5 or 6 young boys who play an mmo on their phones together next door

  • Don't be afraid just stop it, don't sit around all day when you can just go outside…
    Woah… Never thought of it like that before…

  • DarkFlamesDarkness says:

    You presented a false dichotomy with the if your not motivated to work, then you're motivated to avoid it, I believe. While yes, as first glance that seems likely but you can do things with 0 motivation. You can do something, & ask yourself "Why am I even doing this?" & not know the answer. You can do something without reward or punishment involved, even something as fleeting as momentary pride in accomplishment could be absent, & not doing it will literally have no negative consequence on your life. Sounds weird but it's a thing none the less.
    Also, I thought sociopaths didn't feel fear, but a sociopath can feel bored. So how can boredom be fear?

  • I'm not sure if I am watching this at the perfect time in my life to cause this video to " click", but this was an incredibly powerful video that summed up and fleshed out concepts from multiple other books and speakers.
    Thank you.
    And now I will have a catchy phrase to use with my friends to keep us motivated on just moving forward— " C'mon man just Beat the Dog!"

  • Over the past months i have watched so many selfimprovement videos…and i think yours finally kicks my butt. I need to move forward. And i need to focus on moving forward. thanks!

  • Such very decisive talk. When excuse. I'm not bored out of fear of myself, I'm bored because I spent too much time alone with myself, and I want to do something new. But become incapable of expressing creative desires, due to outside influence and the economic systems in place.

  • Everything you just said is so true for me, even the bit at the end ahaha. The timing of this video is crazy because I've recently been struggling with all of this and it's effected my university studies

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