I’ve been thinking about laziness lately, particularly as it relates to my self-image. One of my insecurities (one that, I am told, many entrepreneurs suffer from) is that people will think I’m a fraud. This fear comes partly from my nagging feeling that I’m just not working hard enough; because I am inherently lazy. During a particularly frustrating day, one of those days when I had planned out a great schedule for myself, but every possible contingency had conspired to keep me from accomplishing my goals, I finally threw up my hands and took a break, stewing in my own perceived “laziness.” For some crazy reason, I started looking up definitions for the word lazy. Here are some of the results:
- From Wikipedia: “a disinclination to activity or exertion despite having the ability to do so”
- From Dictionary.com: “averse or disinclined to work, activity, or exertion; indolent”
- From Merriam-Webster: “not liking to work hard or to be active”
- And from the Oxford: “unwilling to work or use energy”
By the end of my little exercise, I had a pretty good sense that lazy is not a word that accurately describes me; I got to wondering why I still use that word for myself. It seems that, most of the time, I berate myself with this word when I haven’t accomplished something I needed to get done. Why I use this word in particular is probably a topic best left to my therapist, but after a few weeks of soul-searching and really looking at what I’m doing with my work hours, it seems that most of the times I feel like I’m “lazy,” I’m actually tired or worn out. Sometimes I’m scared of taking a step forward with a client because I’m opening myself to the possibility of rejection. And still other times (and this one is the most bizarre), I’m afraid someone won’t like the hoop I make for them. Is this ridiculous? YES. But it just shows me how fragile my inner entrepreneur can still be.
Which brings me to the topic of self-care. I’ve been struggling with this because I’ve had some health problems this fall. Some of them are due to overtraining (working too hard) and others are due to a combination of stress and genetic predispositions. Because my physical health has demanded it, I have been taking a serious look at my daily routine. I now have to make time for two sessions of physical therapy daily. Three of those sessions have to be at a rehab center, so with drive time each of those is an hour and a half. The exercises I do at home take around 30-45 minutes per session, so this has become a significant part of my daily routine. This on top of a day job and building a small business, quality time with the husband, time for the pets, and doing my part of the household cleaning and finances.
In the past, I would have laughed off all that time I needed to spend healing my body, but I have been in severe pain for nearly two months. I haven’t been able to hoop for anything but my classes, and I haven’t been able to sit, stand, walk or carry anything without extreme discomfort. The only thing that doesn’t hurt is to lie down, preferably with ice or heat. Since I don’t have that option all day every day, the stretches are really helping to keep the pain from being overwhelming. So I’ve been doing them. And just recently, I’ve been taking a little quiet time afterward to figure out what I want to do with my day. But not just the schedule; what challenges I think I’ll face, what things might come up that day to interrupt me, how I’m going to keep my muscles from tightening up while I work, when I’m going to eat lunch, and most importantly, when I am going to FINISH WORKING for the day. Not put things down but still answer emails, but actually be DONE with work. As in, unless something has gone so wrong that someone actually picks up their phone to call me, they can wait until the morning.
It isn’t easy. And I’m not very good at it. I still get this thing at the end of the day: I don’t want to let go of the work. “If I keep going, I get this much more done! Then I’ll finally be ahead of the game!” WRONG. The work never ends, but it does wait. IT WILL WAIT. And the only way to ensure it waits is to MAKE IT WAIT, firmly and consistently. Then I can kiss my husband, play with my dog, and do my physical therapy. And someday soon, I’ll be able to add hooping back to that list.
This holiday season, make work wait. Don’t use it as an excuse not to meet deadlines, but if you are overwhelmed and reaching the end of your ability to do GOOD WORK, make them wait. Do it well, when you have the time to do it well. And don’t lie to yourself or anyone else about how long it will take you to get around to it or how long it will take to complete it properly and accurately. If the quality is important, they will wait for it.