How to Stop Being Lazy

How to Stop Being Lazy

It takes hard work, financial education, and a growth mindset to achieve your wealth goals

Often you'll hear people say, "They're poor because they're lazy." What people mean is that it takes hard work to get rich. The problem is that it is only partially true. It does take hard work to get rich, but it also takes financial intelligence and a growth mindset.

Laziness starts with a poor mindset

The first thing we need to define is what I mean by laziness. Most people equate laziness with avoiding work. The problem with this definition is many people who work hard are also some of the laziest people I know.

We have all heard the story of the businessman who works hard to earn money, spending long hours at the office and bringing work home on the weekends, only to see his wife and kids leave him. Rather than work on his relationships, he stayed busy at work.

Today, I meet people who are too lazy to take care of their money, their health and their family or get a financial education. They work hard, but that is really a way of staying busy so they don't have to face more important things. They are lazy. Nobody has to tell them. Deep down they know, and if you bring it up they get irritated.

And if they're not busy with work, they're working hard at watching TV, fishing, playing golf, or shopping. They stay busy to avoid important things in life.

Living a full life and being financially successful means you have to not just work hard but you also have to work hard on the right things. This should be a complete picture of who you are and who you want to be. Work hard at your relationships, your family, your health, your mind and education, and yes, your work itself.

If you’re only working hard at one area of your life, you’re lazy in all the others.

If that rings true for you, it's essential that you overcome laziness in order to become rich in terms of both money and life. So the question is, how do you overcome laziness?

Overcoming laziness starts with developing a growth mindset

There are two types of people in the world: those with a fixed mindset and those with a growth mindset.

A fixed mindset looks at circumstances and says no that can’t be done, or there is no way I’ll ever be like that person. A fixed mindset locks you into the way things are rather than focusing on the way things could be.

A growth mindset is open to possibility. It is open to what others have to say and teach. It continually strives to be better each and every day. It is an exciting way to live.

Often, I find that those who are lazy are really suffering from a fixed mindset problem. Because they can’t imagine a future different than their reality, they shut down. They can’t imagine being in great shape and running a marathon, so they stop running completely. They can’t imagine being rich, so they don’t learn about money.

So the first key to overcoming laziness is to start dreaming again.

Stop being lazy by starting to be a little greedy

Chances are you bristled at me telling you to be a little greedy. That’s OK. Many of us were raised to think this way.

"Greedy people are bad people," my mother used to say. Yet, if we're honest, all of us have a yearning for nice, new or exciting things.

To keep that yearning under control, parents often find ways of suppressing it with guilt. "You only think about yourself," was one of my mom's favorites. "You want me to buy what for you? Do you think we're made of money?" was my dad's. It wasn't the words that hurt so much as the angry guilt trip that came with them.

But the reality is that there's nothing wrong with wanting nice, new, or exciting things. There’s nothing wrong with wanting time to yourself. There’s nothing wrong with devoting yourself to a passion project or to building a business.

The only thing that is wrong is how you go about attaining them. Will you be lazy and steal from your family's future by pulling out bad debt and spending all your money on them, or will you increase your financial intelligence and find ways to build your wealth so that you can enjoy the finer things in life?

Will you say, "I can't afford it," or will you ask, "How can I afford it?"

How can you afford it?

My rich dad forbade the words, "I can't afford it," in his house. In my real home, that's all I ever heard. Instead, Rich Dad required his children to ask, "How can I afford it?"

The words, "I can't afford it," shuts down your mind to possibilities—you don't have to think. It is a poor and lazy mindset. The words, "How can I afford it," open up your mind, forcing you to think and search for answers. It is a rich and creative mindset.

Most important, asking, "How can I afford it," releases the potential of your human spirit to battle with the lazy mindset. Most people think using the words, "We can't afford it," teaches them to battle greed, but really it teaches kids to find excuses, which leads to laziness.

Overcome laziness by asking “What’s in it for me?”

I have a radio station that's my favorite. It's called, "What's in it for me?" Or WII-FM. OK, it's not a real station, but it's an easy way for me to remember that important question.

We need to often sit down and ask questions like, "What would my life be like if I never had to work again?" "What would I do if I had all the money I needed?" Without the desire to have something better, progress is never made. And wanting something better, whether we acknowledge it or not, takes a little bit of greed. It means asking, "What's in it for me?"

Our world progresses because we all desire a better life. New inventions are made, we go to school and study hard, and we make sacrifices, all because we want a better life. So whenever you find yourself facing something so hard that you'd prefer to avoid it and be lazy, ask, "What's in it for me?" Be a little greedy. It's the best cure for laziness.

Overcome laziness by making small gains

Once you have an idea of what you want your ideal future to be, it can often be a challenge to keep going if you are comparing your present to a far off future.

The best way to overcome laziness is by making small, incremental gains each and every day. Don’t set a goal to be a financial genius. Set a goal to read one financial book a month. Once you do that, bump it out to two.

A growth mindset is one that is continually improving day in and day out. Nothing shuts down a growth mindset and leads to laziness more than biting off more than you can chew.

Don’t get too greedy

Finally, a word of caution. Too much greed, as almost anything in excess, is not good. Michael Douglas in the movie Wall Street said, "Greed is good." Rich Dad said it differently, "Guilt is worse than greed. Guilt robs the body of its soul."

Don't feel guilty about wanting a better life and working hard to attain it, but also don't become guilty of sacrificing the most important things in life, your family, health, and integrity, to attain them. Because at the end of the day, money is only important if you can enjoy it with the ones you love and with a clear conscience.

This post was adapted from Rich Dad Poor Dad: What The Rich Teach Their Kids About Money—That The Poor and Middle Class Do Not!

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Original publish date: December 11, 2012