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Lazy Excuses: 5 Things You Say That Are Squashing Your Productivity

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By Sam Ferrigno for

We say we want to work hard. But sometimes, it seems like we just want to want to work, rather than actually work.

There are traps we set for ourselves to avoid work. These, consequently, keep us from realizing our dreams and potential. I get it, work sucks, but wishing you had done better in hind-sight is a worse feeling than having to stay in the office an extra hour to finish a project. Below are lines said by friends, strangers and even myself that ignite a slow, deadly reaction that results in lazy complacency. If you even think these lines, take a minute to analyze why you’re holding yourself back.

1. "I'm Waiting To Be Motivated."
This is one of those things that is surprisingly offensive. Before my senior year of college, I didn’t think twice about it -- and my friends didn’t feel the fire beneath our asses to get active or passionate about anything. I mentioned this to a professor and her eyes grew three times in size, and her eyebrows raised so high they disappeared into her hairline. “Motivation?” she said, incredulously, “I’ll give you motivation. You need a check and a roof over your head. How’s that for motivation?”

It’s easy to get comfortable when your parents can help pay tuition or rent. When you find yourself saying this, think of what life would be like if you only had yourself to turn to for cash. The idea of work will immediately seem less like a chore and more like a privilege -- and maybe even a pleasure.

2. "I'm Just Not Good At This."
This is not humility. This is surrender. When you’ve got a job to do, you’re going to run into things you didn’t major in. Regardless of your level of experience you might have to photoshop some guy’s head onto a toddler’s body and make it look real (this is an actual task I have been given). Give it a shot. If your boss wants to expand your skill-set, then good for you. The best you’ll do is succeed and the worst you can do is fail, which is far better than doing neither. Leave it to your boss to say, “Great job, you never cease to amaze me,” or “You know what? You should just stick to writing copy and maybe neither of us should speak of this again.” Either way, you’ll have tried. It’s always worth it to try.

3. "I Don't Have A Muse Like She Does."
Neither does she. Muses don’t exist. No spirit or all-knowing being is whispering in the ear of your wildly successful colleague. She’s just working her butt off. Waiting for the muse is dangerous because, as Menna van Praag recently wrote, you subject yourself to waiting for it. A muse doesn’t -- as far as I, or anyone who isn’t seeing ghost knows -- have a boss. No one’s telling her to meet a quota of brilliant ideas to feed into your brain. Your job is to turn your brain on and work. Don’t give credit to some whimsical spirit. Your ideas were planted by the things you have learned by living, and were grown over time. When they’re ready to come out, they’re yours and you should treat them with the respect and appreciation as you would your own kid.

4. "I Am Content."
So you’re bored but okay with it. With all due respect, this line is ridiculous. This is what we say when we’re afraid of telling people we’re not happy. This trap stems from a feeling of undeserving, and it’s more transparent than you might think. The actual pronunciation of the word “happy,” is no more difficult than that of “content,” so why not use the former? It sounds like I’m splitting hairs, but we’d do well to mind our words, because words turn probability into reality, and habit into character. Life’s too short to not enjoy it, so ask yourself why you’re okay with being complacent when you could be thrilled.

5. "It's Too Late For Me."
As the son of two parents who got their BAs in their forties, I can guarantee it’s not too late for you. Coming late to the game makes things more difficult, but working on a book or a portrait in the dark hours of early morning is a small price to pay for the chance to succeed. Without trying, you’ll be visited by the muse’s annoying cousin that nags at you during those hours, and greets you with a judgmental gaze when you look in the mirror. The price you pay for giving up is much higher -- and it has interest. If you’re afraid of failure and humiliation, great. You’ve taken the first step to doing something extraordinary.

For more on success and motivation, click here.

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