Why I Stopped Being Lazy

This month I’m planning a few posts on time management, motivation, and entrepreneurship. To kick these off, I’m going to get a bit personal and talk about why I stopped being lazy. If you just want the quick and dirty on how to stop being lazy, check back out the Happenchance Guide to Overcoming Laziness.

“A life of leisure and a life of laziness are two things. There will be sleeping enough in the grave.” -Benjamin Franklin

“Wish in one hand. Shit in the other. See which one fills up first.” -Grandpa Baker

The Ship that Never Comes In

Why I Was Lazy

I’m sad to admit that I used to be lazy, though not lazy in the ‘unemployed and living in mother’s basement and playing warcraft’ sense of the word.

I’ve always paid my bills, saved money, and avoided debt like a recovering alcoholic avoids wine tastings. I  managed to finish university. I became a pretty solid bass player. I earned decent money at my low-skill, high-risk job. Sometimes I worked pretty hard, but only so I could earn travel money.

The problem was that I just didn’t try very hard. I knew I could do better, but I just didn’t. For the most part, I didn’t work on things that really mattered to me.

In short, I did as little as possible to get by. I was bumbling along, waiting for my ship to come in.

Part of this I attribute to my environment: here in Appalachia, ambition is viewed by many with suspicion. Personal development means buying a better scope for your deer rifle. Entrepreneurship means supplementing your SSI/disability by selling your prescription drugs. Like going to the proctologist, work is something you have to do.

I can’t place all the blame on Appalachia. I take full responsibility for my lazy ways. But it’s still worth mentioning, because our environment influences our perceptions and attitudes.

We can’t choose where we come from, but we can choose where we’re going.

What Changed

As adults, we sometimes manage gain a new perspective on the core beliefs we learned in childhood. Sometimes we’re lucky enough to come to this new perspective gradually. Other times our world is shaken by a series of external events. For me, it was the latter.

First, my family and friends lost too many loved ones in too short a time. Some of these losses were tragic and random, things that should never have happened…but did anyway. These people may be gone, but they still touch my life everyday.

Second, while delivering a pizza, I broke my foot by stepping on a curb. Fractured my fifth metatarsal and spent a few months hobbling around on crutches. During this time, I gained a deep respect for the disabled and a new appreciation for elevators.

From these events, I finally realized

  • Only by happenchance was I granted opportunities forever denied to others.
  • My time and energy was finite.
  • No job was worth ruining my health for.

Sure, I had dreams and things I wanted to accomplish, but up to this point, they were just that: dreams. Things I would do someday. These events conspired to make me realize that, in the words of John Fogerty, someday never comes.

I came to understand that without putting in some serious work and effort, I’d spend the rest of my life in low-skill, high-risk jobs, forever wishing for and waiting on things that would never happen. Unless I wanted to end up with handfuls of shit, I had to change my wishes into plans. If not for me, then for my wife, and for the memory of the people we lost.

I realized that my ship wouldn’t come in unless I gathered the materials and built it myself.

If the hillbillies think I’m some kind of freak, let them gossip while they pass around the copperheads and strychnine.

For me, laziness is an insult to the dead.

For me, working on things that matter is an act of defiance…and an affirmation of life.

If you enjoyed this, be sure to check out the Happenchance Guide to Overcoming Laziness. Even better, subscribe to this fine site.

West Virginia Snake Handlers

Photo credit: luchilu, National Archives photo 541335

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • JA Lineberry November 2, 2010, 6:39 pm


  • Amy November 3, 2010, 9:12 am

    Good post!! 🙂 I have too many things I say that I want to do/ places I want to go but what am I actually doing to make those things really happen?? …nothing… that’s what. I need to get my butt in gear and set actual goals and figure out what I need to do to make them happen instead of sitting around daydreaming about how nice they would be!

  • Margaret Polk November 3, 2010, 8:04 pm

    Loved…loved…loved this article of self-realization, Seth. Isn’t it amazing how the saying, “everything in its own time” can be applied to this article? I can hardly wait to read the techniques that stopped you stop from being lazy! Write on!

  • Tim Sverduk November 8, 2010, 4:32 am

    Hi Seth – you have: “here in Appalachia, ambition is viewed my many with suspicion.” I think that is supposed to be “by many”. I like the anti-laziness posts.

  • Seth M. Baker November 8, 2010, 1:45 pm

    Hey all, thanks for stopping by.
    @Amy. Actual goals are great, especially when they’re specific. Ex: instead of saying ‘I want to get out more,’ I choose a metric like ‘I want to go to one special event per week.’
    @Margaret . Glad you enjoyed this. Everything in its own time, indeed. I don’t know why I took so long to figure some of this stuff out.
    @Tim. Typo corrected. Thanks for catching that.

  • Jason Griffon November 15, 2010, 6:12 am

    i really like this article. i don’t want to be lazy anymore, and i think this is a good start.

  • Uhitl January 29, 2012, 4:27 pm

    thanks for the article..good read