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Don’t Confuse a Lack of Motivation with Laziness

Updated on November 16th, 2020
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I remember waking-up one beautiful Monday morning and just thinking that it was a good day to do nothing. Of course, by the time afternoon approached, I was feeling pretty guilty about vegging out all day. Was it because I was lazy or just lacking motivation that day? Several people were so kind as to mention that my procrastination was in fact laziness. And, to be honest, sometimes that’s the truth. After all, we all need a day of laziness to recharge the batteries. But it is a mistake to confuse lack of motivation with laziness or procrastination. Heres’ why you don’t confuse a lack of motivation with laziness.


As Timothy A Pychyl Ph.D. explains in Psychology Today;

Procrastination and laziness share key attributes such as the reluctance to act and a lack of strong motivation in dictionary definitions.

I think they probably also share a lot similarities psychologically in terms of personality traits (low conscientiousness), emotional regulation (often “giving in to feel good”) and avoidance as a preferred coping strategy.

What I do think we mean when we say “procrastinators are just lazy” is that procrastination carries with it strong moral connotations; connotations that have their roots in the notion of the sin of sloth.

These connotations were well established in early psychology as reflected in William James’ notion of the “obstructed will,” as presented in his foundational, two-volume Principles of Psychology.

In fact, when we actually dive deeper into this, you’ll actually find that there are different aspects of our psyche that can explain the differences between laziness, procrastination, and a lack of motivation.

The difference between laziness, procrastination, and lack of motivation.

“There are many parts to us all. These parts are what makes us who we are based on our experiences, our associations to these experiences, what importance they play in our lives, our understanding of them, and whether we have accepted them to be true,” writes Giovanni Lordi in Mind Motivations.

“All of these factors combined create our opinions, points of view, beliefs and perceptions. In turn this creates our conscious circumstance which is basically the result of millions of pieces of data in the subconscious which molds who we are.”

Lack of motivation, lack of passion.

Lordi adds that, “a lack of motivation is essentially connected to a lack of passion. Passion is something that inspires us towards a goal or vision which we look forward to achieving or having in our life. This fuels the search for self-satisfaction.”

Unfortunately, we can lose that passion when surrounded by negativity or failing to meet our expectations. Eventually that passion that was raging inside of you becomes extinguished. As a result, we’re no longer motivated to pursue that passion.

Procrastination — fear within the decision making processes.

Procrastination, on the other hand, is tied to our decision making process. “This is attached to a fear of making the wrong decision which has consequences like not meeting the expectations of others or ourselves. From this stems our belief systems which are formed over time and attached to future decision processes,” states Lordi.

Lordi believes that, procrastination “is simply the result of fear which clouds our decision making to the point where we fail to take action and hence procrastinate on things.” Over time, this becomes a “subconscious pattern of inactivity fueled by the fear of failure.”

Laziness — a coping mechanism for other issues.

Finally, laziness is often thought of as “putting off’ action since you possess “I don’t care” attitude. Lordi says that this is a coping mechanism. “The lazy person is often intelligent, a great strategist, and works well under pressure.”

Lordi goes on to state that, “the lazy person often uses their intelligence to find a loop hole or shortcut to get something done in half the time.” While this can be beneficial sometimes when it comes to productivity, it usually results in either “a job not being done properly or finding ways of getting out of it altogether.”

According to Lordi, he believes those who are lazy “have emotional issues they have not dealt with and have ‘put off’ dealing with.” This leads to “a subconscious pattern of ‘I don’t care.’’

Ways to get energized and motivated when you feel lazy.

Since there are various parts of our psyche that form the basis for laziness, lack of motivation and procrastination, when one is out of whack, disconnection occurs. When that happens, negative patterns appear. Of course, when that happens, you don’t feel energized.

Thankfully, there are ways to combat those negative patterns by using these five tips.

Focus on just a few things at a time.

It’s not uncommon for us to create bulky to-do-lists. This can lead to feeling overwhelmed and lost. Instead of looking at that entire list, focus only on your top two or three priorities.

This not only makes you feel less overwhelmed, it also motivates you since these tasks now seem more attainable. And, that makes it more likely that you’ll succeed.


Want to combat laziness? Then start exercising.

It’s been proven time and time again that exercising just makes us feel good. That’s because physical activity releases endorphins. This not only improves your mood, it also reduces stress and helps you remain focused and productive.

This may sound too simple. But, when you’re in a better mood and relaxed, you’ll be less likely to fall into that habit-hole of laziness and despair.

Allow time to relax and do what you enjoy.

Counterproductive? Absolutely not. Sometimes we need to chillax.

The reason? Our brains only have so much energy. So, working on a difficult task is going to leave you feeling drained.

When we’re mentally exhausted, do you think we’ll want to jump directly into another challenging task? Absolutely not. And, that’s when you need to step away and take a break.

During this break, take a nap, go for a walk, read an inspirational book, write what you’re grateful or give your best friend a quick call. You could even just close your eyes and daydream or reflect if you want. In other words, if you want to recharge your mental energy, do something that makes you feel relaxed

Get organized.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that your physical surroundings don’t influence how you feel. Just think about the times your home or office was a complete mess. I bet that clutter made you restless, overwhelmed, and stressed out.

In fact, one study found that clutter can lead to depression. And, as already discussed, that can lead to laziness.

Block out the time to clean your surroundings and keep it organized. It will reduce those negative feeling and keep you productive since you won’t be wasting time looking for the stuff that you need.

Pay attention to your internal dialogue.

Our internal dialogue has major influence on how we feel and what we do. As Anthony Robbins, the world famous motivational speaker, explains in order to feel ecstatic, we just need to do adopt a point of view that creates that emotion.

So the next time a negative thought appears, like “Today is going to be so long,” challenge it with something more positive. For example, “I’m grateful the new opportunities that will arrive today.”

It’s a simple and effective way to get you amped while giving you a boost of energy. And, that’s why you don’t confuse a lack of motivation with laziness.

Max Palmer

Max Palmer

I'm Max and I love helping businesses we work with to expand their businesses online. I help with invoicing, time tracking and overall business needs for business owners. If you need help contact me today.

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