I’m not a professional on screen. When I make videos, I usually have a few notes jotted down, but otherwise I just make it up as I go. Below this video, I’ve posted a transcript that mostly follows the video verbatim. It’s a little disjointed, but I thought the topic was important enough not to leave it to just Youtube and Facebook.
Watch the video. Read along, if you find that helpful. Comments and questions are always welcome.
Go to the ant, O sluggard;
consider her ways, and be wise.
Without having any chief, officer, or ruler,
she prepares her bread in summer
and gathers her food in harvest.
How long will you lie there, O sluggard?
When will you arise from your sleep?
A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest,
and poverty will come upon you like a robber,
and want like an armed man.
There are different reasons that people fail to act, that they are lazy. Some people are lazy because they’re selfish. They don’t want to work. They consciously choose to burden other people with their needs, to allow other people to provide for them, to meet their expenses, provide them a place to live and food to eat. They know that they’re burdening other people and they’re ok with it.
Those are the people that Paul was talking about in 2 Thessalonians 3:10 when he said if someone is unwilling to work don’t let them eat. I’m perfectly happy with that. People who are unwilling to contribute–not people who are unable, but people who are unwilling to act on their own behalf–you shouldn’t help them. You’re just enabling them to be lazy. You’re enabling them to destroy their own lives and you become a party to their destruction. So let them fail. That’s the best thing for them.
But I don’t really want to talk about those people. I want to talk about the rest of us.
If you’re like me, you want to work. You want to accomplish great things, but maybe you find it really hard to take that first step, to really get things done. You know you want to finish that project. You want to make those sales calls. You want to write that book…but you just keep putting it off. You think, “I’m tired” or “I’m just dreading getting started on that project” or “I really don’t like it!” But you know you’ve got to do it and, before long, it’s too late. You’ve missed your opportunity or the deadline’s coming up and now you’ve got to rush to get things done.
It happens to me all the time.
I know it feels bad to call that “laziness” because you really want to work, but that’s really what it is. That’s exactly what Solomon was describing here: “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty comes on you like a bandit.” It sneaks up on you when you aren’t looking.
We got here to this place by making a million small choices. You know the Chinese proverb, that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, but it took you a million steps to get here and each one was a decision. Every time you are faced with a choice to act or not to act you are making a decision. If you choose not to act, you’re choosing. It’s your problem, your fault.
I know it doesn’t feel like that. It feels like there’s a weight on your spirit like you just can’t think about the thing that you’re supposed to do. You’re tired! There are so many things… You know. Read another little paragraph in the book, just one. Watch a little bit more TV. Play this game for a little bit longer, because that other thing…it’s just so awful!
But these are choices, and one little choice after another creates a habit and before long you’re unable to act. You’re not even conscious of the choices anymore. You’re choosing not to act. You’re choosing to be lazy without ever actually consciously choosing. It just happens and you don’t know how you got here or why you can’t get anything done.
Fortunately we can get out the same way we got in: one step at a time.
It’s not easy.
Mel Robbins wrote a great book a few years ago, and she describes a process that’s just so obvious. It sounds too obvious to be true, but it works. I assure you it works. The book is called The Five-Second Rule, and here’s basically how it works:
When you’re conscious of a choice–and this takes some work–eventually you’ll become more conscious of choices as you develop better habit–but when you’re conscious of a choice, you know there’s something you need to do, and you just can’t get yourself to do it, don’t choose to do that thing. Instead, choose to count down from five. That’s easy! You can do that. But once you start counting…as soon as you hit one, you’re doing whatever it was.
“I just don’t want to sand that wall so that it can be primed and painted. I just hate it! It’s just so boring…Well, I’m gonna count. Five…four…three…two…Get up and sand the wall!”
It takes some effort. It takes time. It mostly takes time to undo all the damage that you’ve done to yourself by choosing not to act, but eventually you make better habits. You make better thought patterns where you’re more aware of your choices, and it gets easier and easier over time to actually get up and act, to do the things you have to do.
You know if you don’t guard your house, burglars come in. The bandit gets you on the road if you’re not paying attention to your surroundings. You have to be conscious! So start now watching for those opportunities to make choices, and whenever you have that opportunity and you get that feeling like the whole world is is forcing you to stay in your seat, count. Start at five… follow Mel’s five-second rule.