The “Productivity Mindset” You Haven’t Heard Of
Lacking in movement, action, or change, especially in a way viewed as undesirable or uninteresting.
A few people I love have gone static.
Their lives have hit a standstill. They don’t know why they’re here, what they’re supposed to do, or how they’re supposed to do it. This is common. It’s a feeling I myself have to battle through on an almost daily basis. And though I am by no means an expert on this topic, I do have some solid experience being a lazy P.O.S. And I’ve gotten better at doing valuable things with my time and focusing on daily improvement.
…back to static
Static has varying degrees of severity. Some have it bad. Just getting out of bed and cleaning themselves is a mountain in itself. Life is filled with too many options and challenges for them to overcome, so they lie down and and watch as life passes by unlived. They’re depressed. Others have a less severe case. They’re able to hold down jobs, maybe have a social life — but it feels empty. Life just isn’t as fulfilling as they’d hoped. And they can’t seem to put their finger on why.
There’s nothing wrong with having this feeling — it’s natural for those with a melancholy bent — but there are right and wrong ways to deal with it.
As I see it, there are two directions a person can take when life goes static
- Succumb to the static, befriend it, and ultimately become delusional about your situation.
- Sit down, identify the source of the feeling, get realistic about what’s holding you back, and start moving toward what you want every day.
BEFRIENDING THE STATIC — THE STATICIAN
Everyone knows someone who’s given in to the static. These people have a defeatist mentality — often masking their true feelings with sarcasm or humor. They’ll make jokes about how boring their lives are, or comment on their own laziness. But they don’t seek improvement because the rut is familiar, comfortable and easy.
They find comfort in skepticism and cynicism. They latch on to excuses. And they spout these excuses — in the form of complaints — to all who will listen. They do this because they’re looking for affirmation (I know because I’ve done it myself). They want someone to tell them that their lack of activity is ok.
“You’re right, your schedule is too busy to pursue that hobby.”
“Yeah, that is a really difficult field to get into. It’d be hard for you to stand out. Highly competitive.”
“If you can’t devote that much time to it, what’s the point?”
These people have become adept at making their lives as static as possible. They’re pros. So, we’ll call them staticians (not to be confused with statisticians — a noble, difficult calling for the mathematically minded).
Staticians look for the aforementioned responses because deep down, in the pit of their stomachs, they know they could be better. But coming to terms with that feeling tends to be petrifying. It’s much easier to avoid it or deny its existence.
The disconcerting sensation of inactivity can be avoided in the following ways:
When those pesky thoughts of guilt and responsibility plague you, drugs and alcohol are two of the most effective avoidance tactics on the market today. Smoke a little weed and laugh at a TV show, go out and get trashed with a few friends, and voila — it’s hard to even remember what you were so upset about in the first place. Unfortunately, this is only a short-term solution. Chronic staticians understand this shortcoming and transform drugs/alcohol into a long-term solution by simply doing it all the time.
Join a Group of Fellow Staticians
Staticians love to gravitate toward situations that don’t require greatness from them. They actively seek out other staticians. And they mistake the people who don’t push them to excel — who don’t require anything of them — as the people who “get them.” These friend groups ensure no one moves forward or improves, because doing so would be a violation of what brought them together in the first place. In fact, they make fun of those who “care so much” about their careers and dreams because those people are “missing out on the actual point of life” (“What is the actual point?” you ask. They have zero idea).
Perhaps the most underrated deterrent of activity today is social media. We now have more means of distracting ourselves from real life than any other generation before us. One article I found said we spend about 5 hours a day on our phones (based on personal experience, I’d say that’s pretty low). Though there’s nothing inherently wrong with social media, it can become unhealthy. For staticians, prolonged social media exposure tends to skew their view of reality even further. Every single person on social media portrays an exaggeratedly blissful existence. And for those who are doing nothing with their lives, this tends to cause even more discouragement. They feel that they’re “falling behind,” and rather than use social posts as inspiration, social media only drives them further into staticity (Is that a word?)
Other Pleasure Crutches
When your life seems to be going nowhere, self-control in general, is hard to come by. Many will seek out any short-term pleasure they can to avoid reality — eating extremely sweet and salty foods, watching porn, scouring YouTube, endlessly binging TV shows, etc.
DEFEATING STATIC — THE COMBATANT
Just as we can recognize the people who have given into static, we can also sense those who actively combat it. These individuals are always moving toward something. We call them “busy bees” or “workaholics.” But I don’t think those terms give these people enough credit.
These heroes have achieved something. They’ve discovered how their bodies and minds work. They’ve taken a hard look at themselves and realized that they’re less happy when they’re not constantly making progress. They’ve discovered that — although it’s not easy — forcing yourself to actively combat static is the best way to get through life.
They work at excelling, every day, on multiple fronts of life…
Combatants don’t give in to the pathetic “fat and happy” excuse. They realized how much better every single aspect of their life becomes when they’re in the best shape possible. Because of this, they actively avoid greasy, sleep inducing, carb-blasted meals and fuel their bodies to perform at the highest level.
Combatants also exercise on a daily basis. They’ve acknowledged the grounding, stimulating rush of dopamine that simply moving around in nature gives them. So, they make an effort to get outside for a while every day. They’ve realized that running makes them happier and more able to deal with stressful situations, so they force themselves — even when it’s the last thing they want to do — to get a run in. They lift weights because of the confidence and decompression it provides for them. And they view these practices as non-negotiable, daily doses of medicine. The more intense the level of exercise, the bigger the dose of good feelings.
Combatants aren’t satisfied with their current base of knowledge. They’re constantly seeking to acquire new skills and learn every day. They’re extremely intentional about what they put into their brains. They don’t waste time with garbage movies and TV shows. Rather, they learn to detect quality work in these fields and spend time watching and appreciating the creativity that went into making them. They read books about their interests so that they can speak more engagingly about the topics they care about. They listen to podcasts that expand their mind and open them up to different worldviews.
They maintain a sensitivity for irresponsible, biased news and seek to understand what’s truly happening in the world. They don’t scoff at things like meditation, mindfulness or brain enhancing vitamins. Instead, they test them out for themselves to judge the benefits. They’re curious about spirituality and they make an effort to figure out what they believe so that they understand what’s driving them. They treat their brains like a muscle, and do everything in their power to make it as strong as possible.
Jim Rohn said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Taking it one step further: You are who and what you surround yourself with. Combatants have a complete understanding of this concept. They actively search for groups of passionate, high-achieving individuals and avoid negativity in order to distance themselves from the temptation of staticity. They seek out mentors — people they want to be like — and they learn from them. And they take this concept of surroundings to the enth degree.
Combatants clean their living space and car because they know filth only depresses them and slows them down. They dress presentably and are willing to spend money on a decent haircut so they can feel good about their appearance. They go to museums, concerts, galleries and speeches. They travel and see new places. They force themselves to meet new, different types of people (those last few really aren’t surroundings — but you get the point).
The best combatants have selected a skill they want to master, and they work at that skill every single day — no matter how tired, distracted, unmotivated or busy they are (if they couldn’t decide on a skill to work on, they just picked one and went for it). The skill could be anything — writing, stand-up, boxing, music, painting, programming, making videos, etc.
They view the development of their selected skill as a job. However, they don’t work on their skill for monetary ends. They have one simple goal in mind: excel every day. If they can do that, they can sleep easily that night. They don’t have expectations for what the skill will bring them, but they take pride in the persistence and consistency of their work ethic. They understand that fulfillment comes from grinding.
Combatants don’t go about the aforementioned pursuits haphazardly. They execute on each of them systematically. They have a plan with specific goals in each area so that they can stay on track. They know where they want to be in a year with their body, mind, surroundings and skill and they know how to measure their progress.
STATICIAN TO COMBATANT — THE TRANSITION
Transitioning from Statician to Combatant isn’t easy. Most Staticians have programmed their brains to believe that inactivity is a part of who they are. In their minds, they simply don’t have that innate drive or passion to excel. But what they don’t realize is: That feeling of disappointment, regret and anxiety they have about their current inactive state, is proof of the dormant combatant living inside them. They just haven’t been feeding the beast.
Here’s what we know: Human beings can change. We’re supposed to. Neuroplasticity shows us that — through work and intention — we can actually rewire the circuitry of our brains to think in new, more positive ways. We can decrease the negative self-talk and anxiety by being intentional. We become whoever or whatever we tell ourselves we are.
But we don’t even need science to prove this to us. We can see evidence of this in the morbidly obese who shed the weight and run marathons. We see it in the convict who gets out of prison, turns their life around and excels in the business world. We see it in the banker who quits his job to go help the dying and poverty-stricken in India. These things happen.
Other people have made the transition, why not you?
To quote Andy Dufresne, I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really. Get busy living, or get busy dying.