Escape the Laziness Lie
There are three tenets…
1. That your worth is your productivity—that's the idea that your value as a person is determined by how much you get done.
2. That you can't trust your own feelings, needs and limitations. If you're tired or not motivated, that you're a bad person—not that you need a break and shouldn't work yourself to sickness.
3. That there is always more you could be doing. Even if you're high-achieving, are you volunteering enough? Exercising enough? Does your house look nice enough? There's a litany of achievements we use to measure who someone is in our culture and no one can actually succeed under them.
I think everyone in the system that we're living in has an unhealthy relationship to work, ultimately. Obviously it can vary. People who know to set limits and trust their own feelings—instead of trying to interrogate those feelings—that's a sign of someone who has a healthy relationship to work. But a lot of people don't have the luxury to even have that because they're in a coercive environment where you have to work more hours than is physically healthy for you, just to be able to support yourself.
Ask yourself if you're looking at other people's highlight reel in life in order to determine what you're supposed to be doing every day. If you miss checking something off a box, do you feel guilt or shame at the end of the day? Is your reflective response to being asked to do something "yes"? Do you have trouble saying no?
1. Listen to your body and your mind. This is a huge step. Learning to notice takes time. Trust the feelings that you would normally write off as, "Oh, my God, I'm so lazy." For example, I know that if I hardly ever get any work done at 3 PM, that's a sign that I've already worked too much that day and I need a break. If I get angry when I get a calendar invite—that emotion is trying to tell you something. You're not a bad person for having those emotions.
2. Keep track of how you spend your time. If you have time where you're not working, that's OK. Your brain and body needs it. You're not wasting time. Think intentionally about how you want to spend that time instead of, you know, refreshing Instagram and feeling bad about it.
3. Practice compassion. Because it's easier for us to be understanding to others first.
One of the therapists I spoke to for the book talks about slowly ramping up. If you have people in your life who demand too much of you, start giving them signals that you're pumping the breaks. It can take a long time to break someone out of a loop, if they expect a lot out of you. Practice the small things you can say. Sometimes that involves outright lying and saying you're too busy for work—and that's OK.
“People who know to set limits and trust their own feelings—instead of trying to interrogate those feelings—that's a sign of someone who has a healthy relationship to work.”
Document everything you're doing. So much of what we do at our jobs is help support and train other employees, things that don't get recognized as taking up hours and hours of our day—"Oh, I can't take care of this because I've had to learn a whole new software because we're working from home." You don't get credit for things like that. Also, band together with other employees to push back against these things.
That's the majority of people, right? Think about what you can do to build a parachute out of that environment. Or what can you do with your fellow workers to change things up? This goes back to what I said about compassion. The more we trust other people and recognize that everyone is having too much demanded on them, the more we can actually build community and support each other.
1. Something I recommend in the book is a Value Clarification Exercise. Think about what are the most important values in your life. Is it connection? Is it equality? Family? If you could only live with one or two values in your life, what would they be?
2. Seek out what makes you feel awe and wonder in the world. There's a lot of writing about self-care, but it's almost always things like bubble baths or pedicures. Those provide short-term relief. One form of really taking care of yourself, on a deeper level, that a lot of people miss, is spiritual and psychological fulfillment. You have a place in the world and that world is inspiring and amazing. Find the things that make you feel alive.
3. When you are going through a positive moment in life, put down your phone and your worries. That way, you actually notice and appreciate it and can cultivate more of those moments in the future.
Identify the most important things to you—what's keeping you secure in your job or the life you've built for yourself—and front-load your day with those. For example, I'll schedule meetings in the morning with myself so I have it blocked out in my calendar and no one can invite me to other meetings. For me, that's my time for writing. That means the most to me and what I want my life to be about.
Sometimes, it's a negotiation. I'm spending X hours answering emails and that means I'm not getting my actual work done. Think about how you can restructure this.
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