It’s Actually More Exhausting to Be Lazy Than It Is to Be Disciplined

Anthony Moore
Dec 14, 2020 · 8 min read
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“We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.” -Jim Rohn

I’ve been playing video games my whole life. In lots of ways, life is lot like a video game — you have to learn new skills to improve, it takes time to evolve, and finally beating the hardest boss is one of the best feelings in the world.

But there’s one key way life is completely unlike video games:

In real life, you only get one chance.

And sadly, most people are wasting their chance every day.

Most people are living most of their lives on autopilot, doing the same things they’ve been doing for years. Most people stop really learning after they graduate from school; they stay in mediocre relationships, work in average jobs, and continue wasting their free time instead of reinvesting it.

I’ve been going to therapy for eight years now. I’ve learned that it’s usually just easier to keep doing what you’ve been doing — even if it’s been ruining your life. Change is hard, and most people will stay in a bad situation just because it’s familiar.

But the reality is, there are no do-overs or extra lives. If you miss out on something, that’s it.

Sadly, most people don’t realize that it’s actually more exhausting to be lazy than it is to be disciplined. As Jocko Willink titled his best-selling book, Discipline Equals Freedom. The more disciplined you are, the more energy you’ll have, which allows you to have a better, more fulfilling life.

In Jackie Brown, Ordell (played by Samuel L. Jackson) comes home and sees his roommate Melanie (Bridget Fonda) smoking weed and watching TV.

Ordell: Goddamn girl, you gettin’ high already? It’s just 2 o’clock!

Melanie: [chuckling] It’s that late?

Ordell: You know you smoke too much of that shit, that shit gonna rob you of your own ambition.

Melanie: Not if your ambition is to get high and watch TV…

It’s easy to think that “the good life” is just sitting on the couch without a care in the world. I used to think that back when I worked in telemarketing, where every day I was terrified I was about to get fired as I made 300 calls to angry customers.

But the truth is, that’s not what “the good life” is at all. As Benjamin Foley once wrote, “The goal of life is not to relax on the beach, sipping mojitos all day. The purpose is to find something you love that adds value to the world.”

If you want a truly fulfilling life, don’t focus on trying to earn a life where you can be as lazy as possible; focus on building a life where you can have the biggest impact on the world around you.

Everyone Does Things On Autopilot —Just Make Sure You’re Doing the Right Things.

“When you build a habit, you don’t have to spend mental energy deciding what to do.” -David Kadavy

No one is constantly deliberate with every choice they make. It’s exhausting to be that focused all the time.

You should be living many parts of your life on autopilot. You just need to make sure you’re doing the right things, and not letting months keep passing you by while your life remains unchanged.

A fundamental truth of every object in existence is that it is constantly trying to revert back to doing nothing.

This is known as the law of inertia, and if you can understand this law, you can become more productive and effective than most people ever will.

A rolling marble will eventually slow and come to a halt. Animals, after they’ve hunted, always revert back to resting. A skyscraper, over enough time, will eventually crumble back into rock and steel.

Humans are no different — we are always subconsciously trying to get back to a resting state, where our activities and routines are preset and familiar.

The problem most people have is they develop poor routines and behaviors, ideally ones that require the least amount of energy.

Worse still, we’re conditioned by the world to try and work as little as possible. When you’re working hard for a company that doesn’t reward extra effort (you don’t get paid twice as much money for double the effort), it’s actually smart to try and cut corners and attempt to work as little as possible.

Sadly, that described entire years of my career. I used to work in telemarketing for a long time. It didn’t how matter how many calls I made or sales I closed, I still got paid the same. My thinking was simple: Why would I work harder if I didn’t need to?

So I tried to cheat the system. I’d call phone numbers I knew no one would answer, just to pad my sales metrics and pass the time. Or I’d time my breaks to coincide with a bathroom break, followed by lunch, extended my non-working time by an extra 20 minutes.

This was normal behavior for me, and it still is for most people. But after years working hard making it look like I was working, I began to realize how boring and exhausting being lazy actually was.

The answer wasn’t to work harder at my job — God, no! I quit. The answer was to start working on real, meaningful things with all my heart. The answer was to be more disciplined, and start doing the right things on autopilot.

I started waking up early. Even with a demanding full-time job, I still woke up every day at 5:00am to write and build the business I now have.

After months of being consistent and waking up early, I learned that if you can set the right behaviors on autopilot, you can build an extraordinary life — the kind of life that most people don’t have.

No longer was I trying to work as little as possible, I was focused on being as disciplined as possible. I’d have great work days, then great rest days. Everything balanced out — the harder I worked (on meaningful things), the better I rested, the better I felt, and the better work I could do. For the first time in my life, my life was running on autopilot, but in a way that made the world (and my life!) better.

Everyone does things on autopilot. Just make sure you’re doing the right things.

Read This If You’re Ready To Stop Surviving Life and Start Actually Enjoying It.

In the Academy Award-winning film Parasite, we see the ultimate example of laziness turning life into a sour, dismal existence.

After successfully worming his lower-class family into a rich family’s home, Ki-taek reveals his deepest beliefs about the futility of life to his son, explaining that nothing really matters:

[to his son] You know what kind of plan never fails? No plan. No plan at all. You know why? Because life cannot be planned…You can’t go wrong with no plans. We don’t need to make a plan for anything. It doesn’t matter what will happen next. Even if the country gets destroyed or sold out, nobody cares. Got it?

This is a man who has spent so long surviving life, he has completely lost the ability to enjoy it. He has lost all hope in plans, and seeks solely to work as little as possible and coast while he can.

If you want to stop surviving life and start enjoying it, you need discipline and structure, not “no plans at all.” The best life is only possible through discipline and focus, not laziness and working as little as possible. You are capable of great things, and if you live your life solely to relax as much as possible, you might end up living a dismal life without even knowing it.

A while back, I wrote an article called “If You Want To Achieve Your Goals 10x Faster, Stop Following Routines.” I included an excerpt from an article by best-selling author Scott Adams:

“Goals work great for simple situations. But the world is rarely simple these days.

You don’t know what your career will look like in a year. You don’t know what the economy will be doing, or which new technologies will hit the scene.

Your personal life is just as unpredictable. The future is a big ball of complexity if you look out far enough. And that means your odds of picking the one best goal for you are slim, and the odds of achieving it are even slimmer, because everything is a moving target.

So instead of goals, try systems that improve your odds of success (however you define success) over time.

Choose projects that improve your personal value no matter how the project itself does. Find systems for diet and fitness that replace willpower with simple knowledge.”

You can start being disciplined in simple ways. Most traditional goal-setting strategies actually don’t work for most people; “Goals are for losers,” wrote best-selling author James Clear.

You don’t need to set more goals and routines each January 1st, you just need to be more disciplined and focused in your life.

Basically, create processes in your life that bring peace and joy. “Freedom isn’t free,” as the old saying goes. If you want to wake up each day with excitement towards the day, you need to create a life where change is possible.

It’s not about working as little as possible. It’s about creating a life full of discipline that allows you to rest, knowing you’re working hard to make the world a better place.

In Conclusion

“One of the greatest turning points in my life occurred when I stopped casually waiting for success and started to approach it as a duty, obligation, and responsibility.” -Grant Cardone

Most people think the lazy life is the good life — relaxing on the beach sipping mojitos all day.

But if you look at the life of these beach bums, you’ll quickly find that life isn’t that rewarding or fun. “Eventually, even lobster will start to taste like soap,” quipped best-selling finance expert Dave Ramsey.

Over time, it’s actually more exhausting to be lazy. Waking up every day knowing today is going to be average-at-best is exhausting. It’s depressing. It sucks all your energy out before you even get out the door.

It might seem easier to simply stay where you are; it’s not great, but why rock the boat, right?

Wrong. Remaining in mediocrity is more exhausting than working towards success. It takes energy either way — why not get what you want in the process?

Years ago, my wife worked an extremely stressful, high-stakes job. She got burnt out, and was seriously interviewing for easier, lower-paying jobs. At the time, a simple and lazy life was all she wanted.

Of course this is valid. It’s not always about working your hardest and making as much money as possible; we all need a break to totally relax sometimes.

But over the course of your life, it’s easier (and more fun) to be disciplined and focuses, making the world a better place.

Stop trying to work as little as possible; focus on making the biggest impact.

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Anthony Moore

Written by

Writer for CNBC, Business Insider, Fast Company, Thought Catalog, Yahoo! Finance, and you. Come say hey. anthonymoore.co

Curious

Curious

A community of people who are curious to find out what others have already figured out // Curious is a new personal growth publication by The Startup (https://medium.com/swlh).

Anthony Moore

Written by

Writer for CNBC, Business Insider, Fast Company, Thought Catalog, Yahoo! Finance, and you. Come say hey. anthonymoore.co

Curious

Curious

A community of people who are curious to find out what others have already figured out // Curious is a new personal growth publication by The Startup (https://medium.com/swlh).

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