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The Lazy Person's Guide To Achieving Self-Discipline

Feb 21, 2016 | 2 comments

We all know that frustrating feeling. Sitting in our chair, staring at our precious time and dreams passing by as we lose them to another youtube cat. This time it’s wearing a banana suite and it’s enough to convince our fragile mind that this is more important than anything else. We know we really need to get up and deal with things that are urgent to us, and yet we feel paralyzed. The thought of finding that file , waiting for it to open and deal with those pixels sounds at the moment like the greatest challenge man will ever face. The only thing our mind is capable of doing is anything but the thing we have to do. Were caught up in a lazy-guilty-tired circle as we weep to ourselves “if only I had self discipline.”

I know I have been struggling. I have goals and dreams to meet yet days go by and I can’t function. These tend to strike us specially when we are just starting out as freelancers. In times when we have very little work and have to come up with our own way of keeping us busy. But I have some good news, there is a way out of the funk, if you choose to search for it. Here is how I managed to break my depressing lazy circles, and claim back my energies and motivation.

Full tank please

For a while I’ve been trying to start on those habits that will help me be successful. Wake up early, plan ahead, stay organised and stick to my schedule. All of these things take effort. Effort takes energy. Energy, is what I’ve been lacking.

Our energy is limited. When it’s out, we need to recharge. If I spent my days waking up late managing to do so little, how could it possibly run out? The answer is that I’ve been wasting it without even realising. We manage to exhaust ourselves in many ways using our inner dialogue and bad decision.

We fight ourselves – Blaming ourselves won’t help. It only generates guilt, a terrible energy drainer. Not so efficient. Laziness is our tendency to stay comfortable. It’s only natural. Instead of blaming yourself for gravitating toward comfort, use it as an opportunity to understand the discomfort your mind is  trying to protect you from. Think about the things you need to do, and ask yourself how are you feeling about it at the moment. Write it out. Let your mind flow. You can find yourself getting really clear insights about the fears that have been putting you down- All that is left is you deciding to start and work on those. If you need to see someone about it, by all means do it. It worked wonders for me.

We disrespect ourselves- We bring ourselves down and putting ourselves second through bad choices we confuse to be “contributing to our success”. When I was a student, as night time arrived I knew I had 8 hours left untill sunrise. For too many nights I decided that those vector shapes on my screen deserved those 8 hours of care more than I did. Be honest with yourself about how you’ve been taking care of yourself lately. Were your priorities your own? Have you been looking after your health? Yes, it takes effort. I find the effort of discipline as an outcome of respect. It’s easiest to let ourselves go and not  fully respect our needs and well being. Once I acknowledged those bad decision as disrespect of myself, that’s when I found the motivation to go out of my way and really change them.

Turn on the Engine

My alarm is ringing and guess what, like most days, I don’t have a place I need to be. Being a freelancer is so awesome. And yet, this awesomeness comes with a price I have to pay everyday by struggling with my inner demons. And my blanket. It’s too cozy. Why should I get up and face this uncomfortable life when I can sleep as much as I want? I need a damn good reason.

I’ve been trying to talk myself out of bed so much but nothing would help. “Get up! It’s for your career, it’s for your success, it’s for achieving your dreams” I would go on and on.

It only takes a word, an image, a sound, to trigger our emotions. When you hear a song and it reminds you of your ex, feelings arise. An object can remind you of a great moment you had and fill you with memories.  It only take a tiny spark to light the engine.

I needed something simple and tangible to create my motivation.

My biggest goal I had  a year ago was being able to move out to my own place soon. I knew how bad I want my own place. And how I would decorate it. And which sofa I want. A brand new one. It’s from ikea, I already picked it from the catalog. I cut it out and hung it on the wall. No need for fancy glittery vision boards. The sofa has it all. It represents my ability to afford it. It represents a transformation from my past period  in my life as a student when my living room was furnished with crappy old furniture my landlord left there. As I was lying in bed trying to get up I imagined my new place, and my future sofa. I was smiling as I was matching it with a coffee table and a rug. I even saw my cat sleeping on it, so cute. Then I got upset, for it left a bunch of it’s hair all over it and it’s brand new. I got so pissed off  to find some scratches it left on the side already! I just finished putting it together you selfish furry monster!!!

I was starting to feel it 🙂

At that point, it only took one line- “If you get out of this bed, you can have the sofa”.

It did it’s thing. I was up on my feet.  

Simplify your motivation. Focus on something tangible.

Keep on going, never look back.

You know what you want, and what need to be done to get it. There will be times when you’ll feel tired and face obstacles. Here are a few tips I know help me keeping it simple and not lose focus.

Choose healthy breaks- Food is a fuel to our bodies, breaks are the fuel to our mind. When we’re starving we can choose between putting together a decent meal, or reach for that bag of cookies. Both will eliminate our hunger. But in the long run, only one will keep us energized, while the other will cause sugar coma. Make a conscious effort to make your breaks effective and filling with energy . Staring at Facebook, Youtube, or Tv might make you feel like you’re resting but won’t  provide as much value to help your mind feel revived. Take a walk outside, See a friend, Talk to a friend on the phone, do a task around the house, play your guitar, walk the dog.

When frustrated and angry, think of 5 random things you’re thankful of – Don’t over think it just go. 1. Having running water in my tap that helped me form that cup of coffee 2. Four walls protecting me from the wind outside 3.Being privileged to do what I do 4. My laptop. It might crash on me from time to time, but I couldn’t do none of this without it. 5. My sweater. I love it 🙂  The goal here is to create a positive distraction for your mind to focus on so you don’t waste your time.

Write your to do list on one piece of paper, and take it out of the notepad. It sounds silly but it works. I have a huge notebook I use to jot down everything. I used to place the entire thing on my desk with my to do list on it. The size of it created an overwhelming effect. Once I tried placing only the piece of paper in my sight, it looked a lot less intimidating.

Be mindful of your body – When I feel like I can’t get myself to work, I stop everything and write down how i’m physically feeling right now. I try to point out the discomfort I’m sensing at the moment and answer what I’m going to do right now to solve it . I can get so caught up in my mind that I don’t even realize that I’m actually tired and I need a short nap. Maybe I’m just hungry and need a snack. Maybe I’m feeling a bit sluggish and need to move. If I don’t have time to go out for a run, a few minutes of pushups and situps do the trick.

Clear surrounding for a clear mind- Until you’ll find time to declutter and sparkle clean your entire house and re-decorate to match your chi , here is a 5 minutes alternative that will have you sense the difference. Step 1 – Take all the empty coffee mugs and crummy plates from your desk and put them in the sink (or near the sink, if you can’t fit them there) Don’t worry, you will clean those later 😉  Step 2- Take a trash bag and walk around your work area and fill it with stuff you don’t need. Don’t stop until it’s full. Your desk looks much better now.  

Now get back to work! I know you can 🙂


Post by Sivan Sa’ar

I’m a freelance videographer and motion designer. I love to tell stories and I have big dreams.  

I would love to hear your thoughts! Leave me a comment or feel free to email me at:

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