It’s time to stop feeling guilty for being lazy. This is because, according to the social psychologist Devon Price, laziness does not actually exist. In an extremely popular article for Human Parts, and in their book “Laziness Does Not Exist”, Price attempts to debunk the idea that procrastination is caused by lazy people. We don’t avoid tasks due to a lack of effort, they argue, but as a result of many unseen, psychological barriers.
In this article, we explore the various barriers that Price believes gets in the way of progress. Often, we mistake these barriers for laziness or we may be unaware these issues are the reason behind our procrastination. Meanwhile, because these barriers are invisible to others, it’s easy for those around us to think we’re lazy. This “laziness lie,” as Price calls it, leads to unnecessary and unhelpful self-judgment, as well as a lack of compassion from others.
Fear of Failure
One of the reasons you may put off doing a task is that you have a fear of failure. This task may be something you care deeply about that you want to do to the best of your ability. If it’s critical that you do the task well, then this can increase the pressure to perform well. Troubling thoughts about failing this important task can make you avoid pursuing tasks and goals in the first place.
Low Self Esteem
You may also find yourself procrastinating on tasks and goals because you doubt your abilities. Indeed, self criticism and low self esteem can make us feel we’re not capable of achieving certain things in life, despite these beliefs often being untrue. Limiting beliefs about ourselves limits our actions. We don’t necessarily avoid tasks because they involve hard work but because we have little confidence in ourselves.
Self sabotage involves making decisions to sabotage your own success in life. It’s a surprisingly common habit. But why do people do this? There are several reasons behind patterns of self sabotage. Two of these reasons we have just touched on: fear of failure and low self esteem. Due to anxiety about being rejected or feeling like a failure, you may sabotage your potential success by doing things such as avoiding jobs interviews, dates, and other opportunities in life. Meanwhile, if you feel worthless and dislike yourself, you may have a deep-rooted belief that you don’t deserve success. This can likewise stop you from pursuing realistic and beneficial goals.
Due to the myriad stresses of modern life, you may frequently feel fatigued. The 24-hour news cycle, social media, work-related issues, and financial worries can be draining, leaving you with little energy to focus on your personal projects. Also, if you have an underlying mental health issue (which you may or may not be aware of), this can be another cause of fatigue. Often, slow progress comes down to a lack of energy and not a character flaw.
Executive Functioning Challenges
This refers to the difficulty of dividing a large task into smaller, discrete steps. When you have a large task in front of you (e.g. a long writing assignment, a project about a topic you know little to nothing about, or an ambitious creative idea), it can feel daunting. This can lead to both procrastination and slow progress. Not knowing how to separate a task into small steps doesn’t make you lazy, though; it just means you are encountering a practical and logistical challenge.
Whenever you feel that you’re suffering from laziness or silently judging others the same way, remind yourself of all the other reasons behind the procrastination. This will help you find solutions to the actual root problem as well as allow you to be more understanding toward yourself and other people’s struggles. Read on to learn why not all procrastination is bad.