Motivated Laziness

Mew will teach napping lessons

It's 5 o'clock on a Saturday, and I've just finished up a jam-packed day… of relaxing.

I woke up late (for me) at 8 am.
I made a smoothie for breakfast at 9.
Then I spent a good chunk of the morning replying to comments and answering emails.
After that, I took a nap. The sun was shining, the cat was purring, I felt tired; so I slept. Until 230 pm.
I made some tea with lunch and then read part of a book until 4.
My housemate came home, so I went upstairs, washed my dishes from lunch, and chatted a bit with him before grabbing a soda and coming back downstairs to my basement.
After I finish writing this post, I might start another. Or, I might grab some cheese, crackers, and veggies for dinner before making some popcorn and watching a movie.

It's been a good day. I've thoroughly enjoyed hanging out by myself, catching up on some stuff around the basement, and just generally recovering from a long week at work.

Had I done this at my parent's house, though, I would've been called lazy.

I was called lazy all the time growing up. Two of my greatest pleasures involved lying horizontal on my bed for hours and not moving: Playing video games on a revolving door of handheld gaming systems and reading a stack of books.

Every time I did one of these things my parents would pause by the door, look in, see me seemingly do nothing, and then proceed to try to make me do other things.

“Why are you _______ when you need to do _____ chore?”
“Why are you _______ when it's such a nice day outside?”

Needing the time to relax was never a good answer.

But now I'm realizing taking the time to relax – caring for myself – is actually a legitimate answer.

Not having time to relax was a major reason I got out of the military. My service only required one weekend a month, and two weeks a year. But, that one weekend spent working meant I had a 12 day work week. By the time day 10, 11, and 12 came around, I was short-tempered and easily angered. Which, if you know me, seems out of character for my open, friendly, easy-going personality. I saw the same shift occur with my roommate, as he was also in the same unit with me.

Cleaning out petrified soda for a recycling project

A common trope of the Millennial generation is that we're lazy. I had a fantastic discussion about it with Joshua Sheats of Radical Personal Finance when we recorded our podcast episode during Camp Mustache. He asked why I was going for FI. I told him it was because I didn't want to work. When pressed as to why I didn't want to work, I said it was because I was lazy.

This led to a tangential discussion on if I was actually lazy. I said I was because I like to take naps, not cook meals, and do things like read a book for hours at a time.

Joshua then pointed out that I wasn't actually lazy. He cited things like being active in at least one sport pretty much all the time since I was 10, being active in the Girl Scouts (and getting my Gold Award), putting in the work to get good grades that led to my full-ride scholarship to college and then keeping said scholarship for all 4 years, joining the military (where I won several awards for being an outstanding Airman), working my butt off at my internship to get into the company with a full-time offer before I graduated college, and all the work associated with going for Financial Independence (figuring out finances, blogging, starting the process for buying a rental, etc).

Clearly I'm not afraid of hard work and long hours. So why do I think I'm lazy?

Because my parents said I was for the better part of 20 years. They didn't like I was doing things for myself and not doing stuff around the house for them. (This became such a heated issue that they kicked me out of the house at age 18, 42 days before I left for college.)

It's so ingrained in me, though, that I didn't even realize it was my parents' voices in my head until that conversation.

Self-care is a critical part of being human. We weren't meant to go, and go, and go with no down time.

I think it's even more important now with the shifting political environment we in the United States are facing. If I tried to be a good employee, sister, daughter, friend, and blogger AND care about everything else going on in the world with no break, I'd explode. For real.

So I turn off my computer, only play games on my phone, and studiously ignore the outside world to give my brain a chance to process everything.

Self-care is so important to me I made it a point to add it to my goals for 2017. It's even in the title: A Year of Caring. So far, I've yet to schedule a massage or chiropractic appointment, but with the news from Washington this last week, I will need both.

But I'm not just caring only about me. I'm caring more about others as well. I urge you to do the same – not just for your inner circle of family and friends. Do something nice for a complete stranger. Stand up for the marginalized (and often maligned) groups in your world. Reach out to someone you haven't talked to in a while.

We're going to need to care for each other more than ever, and we can't do that as effectively if we're tired, stressed out, and burnt out.

How do you relax? Do you worry about being lazy?

20 thoughts on “Motivated Laziness

  1. Funny how the negative labels others give us stick to the brain moreso than the positive ones. You’ve done a lot for yourself in the amount of years you’ve been on this earth. Having two teens in our house I can understand from your parents perspective that seeing you relax probably just made them crazy because they couldn’t do it themselves. The 16 year old in our house sounds very similar to you and your teenage self!! I wonder why he isn’t out doing things or getting a job with all that free time…then I realize that life hasn’t hit him yet. Responsibilities aren’t detrimental to his existence because food/shelter/water have all been graciously provided. Kicking him out? Not likely. He’s a kid – you were a kid, and that’s what kids do!! Your parents reaction seems a bit harsh but they did something good in the end – they made you a survivor.

    That lazy label hasn’t kept you from succeeding in your life and no doubt won’t hold you back from your FI goals. Keep kicking ass, girl!! And take all the time you need to recharge!!
    Miss Mazuma recently posted…I’m Officially Famous For Being In DebtMy Profile

  2. I can’t get over the floof that is Mew. 🙂

    But so much yes to this. It’s easy to believe that you have negative characteristics when people keep classifying you with negative terms. I admit I had (and still have) straight-up lazy moments. But as a kid I was so damn busy all the time with school and extracurriculars that, by the time I came home, I was ABSOLUTELY exhausted. But the expectations were still there to be perfectly happy and a little worker bee.

    I still shame myself some days for taking time to veg out. It’s been *so* challenging for the past six months, since I started a new medication that makes me unbearably tired. I’m normally a very anxious and active person, and it’s hard knowing how to function with less energy.

    Lacking self-care can harm you financially, too. On days when I need a break, I’m more likely to shop online or want to buy things. It makes the pain temporarily fade away, but makes me poorer!

    Everybody needs days where they don’t do a damn thing. 🙂
    Mrs. Picky Pincher recently posted…What A Frugal Weekend!My Profile

  3. Rest is so challenging for me because there is ALWAYS more to do. But if I try to go 24-7 I hit a wall, usually at the lest convenient time. So I have to plan for downtime and work hard to protect it. We always have a lot of plates in the air: 5 little kids, rentals, reno, blogging, freelance writing, freelance work, volunteering, college classes, and on and on. Plus I’m a strong introvert, living with 6 other chatty humans. =)

    And then I get comments about “Oh, you must have so much free time… beings you don’t “work”. Um…yeah…
    Ms. Montana recently posted…Tastes like freedomMy Profile

    • You know, most of my retired friends say they’re busier than ever in retirement! I can certainly see how even just the 5 little ones would be more than enough to juggle.

    • Literally just the tip of the iceberg concerning my parents. But, I have worked hard to throw off their influences in a number of areas so I do my best to not lean on a bad upbringing as an excuse.

  4. I’m so happy to hear you took a day to just relax and recoup, Gwen. Though I don’t remember my parents saying anything to me about being lazy – I often feel guilty when I’m not productive. But, I hit a wall a couple of weeks ago. And I napped and read and watched a movie. For two days. And it was heaven! I decided I need to let go of the guilt and enjoy that little slice of heaven more often.

    I have teenagers and I hope I’ve never conveyed to them that they are lazy (sorry to hear your parents did that to you). They do lounge, but I’ve realized they also learn and grow, even when it appears they are doing “nothing”.

  5. You young whipper-snappers! When I was growing up. . . blah, blah, blah.

    And gauging by my kids they really hear blah, blah, blah.

    Remember, even God took one a week for R&R. And if it is good enough for her, it is good enough for me.

    Finally, consider your relaxing day as practice for early retirement. The world would be a dangerous place if everyone was as wired as I am.

  6. I love all of this.

    “But I’m not just caring only about me. I’m caring more about others as well. I urge you to do the same – not just for your inner circle of family and friends. Do something nice for a complete stranger. Stand up for the marginalized (and often maligned) groups in your world. Reach out to someone you haven’t talked to in a while.

    We’re going to need to care for each other more than ever, and we can’t do that as effectively if we’re tired, stressed out, and burnt out.”

    This is my concern right now. Living in DC, it seems like there is a new protest every other day and that doesn’t appear likely to stop any time soon. I want to participate as much as I can and show my support and help others, but I also feel like I am overloading myself right now. I haven’t quite figured out how to find a balance at this point, but I know that it is a problem that I need to work on.

    • I read somewhere today we’re more effective operating in shifts of 100 at any given time rather than having a flashmob of 1000 that fizzles out quickly. Take some time to rest, but also participate when you can. I’m afraid this will be the new normal…

  7. Your parents must really be something!! You got a full ride to college because you received good grades, but they thought you were lazy??! Doesn’t make sense.

    I’m very excited to hear how searching for your first rental goes. I just finished the book: Building Wealth One House At a Time. I’ve been thinking about taking the plunge myself.

  8. I had a realization sometime ago why I began decluttering and approach a minimalist / MMM type lifestyle. It’s because I am lazy when it comes to cleaning and searching for something in a pile of “stuff” everywhere. I can confidently find something when I need it with extreme ease and not waste time. It took some initial work to get to my current state of an optimized lifestyle but I sure as hell can be lazy often now without needing to worry about chores since much of it is self-maintained. In short, I like being organized so I can be “lazy” later on!

  9. I have a hard time with relaxing- it seems like by the time Saturday comes around all I want to do is lie around under my cosy duvet and read. And eat. The project that seemed so fun on Tuesday at 11am just seems like more work on Saturday.

  10. Am I the only one that caught on to Mew being named after the Pokemon? Badass.

    I’m almost in an identical boat with you financially speaking, though I’m 28, so I’m looking forward to how Gwen accomplishes her goal by 2017! Maybe I can copy and steal like an artist…

    We shall see!

    • I’m pretty sure I mentioned that’s one of the inspirations behind his name…. he’s named after the pokemon, the sound he made as a kitten, and after one of the first pirate lords from PotC.

  11. I’ve associated with the lazy label for several years. I feel like most people in this FIRE space have all this stuff they’d rather be doing other than working, and that’s their main drive to retire. I just don’t want to work if I don’t have to work. Because that’s unnecessary effort. Because I am in fact lazy. But then there’s the ethical/moral conundrum: Why should society permit me not to work when people who are in less fortunate financial positions don’t even have the choice? My take on you is that you’d rather be a landlord, a writer, and a stained glass artist than whatever it is your employer pays you to. I actually enjoyed my job, it just didn’t give me the freedom to do extended travel.

    I guess I’m still looking for that big picture answer of what I want to do with my life. Obviously, slow travel is a near term goal that I hope to get much joy out of, and hopefully some people can get something out of me writing about it, but that’s not something that I want to do forever. I’ve started to think more about potential second careers that might make me feel more fulfilled in life…which to me sounds a lot more gratifying than grinding it out to build up my nest egg as quickly as possible, retiring early, and probably becoming a lazy oaf. I think CMSE was an experience for me that reminded me that I’m not an entrepreneur and don’t particularly want to be. I just need to find my career niche that feels more like fun and less like work.

    I do sometimes worry if fiscal responsibility has been a curse with my inherent laziness. It’s pretty bad when you look at condo’s that you could pay in cash and then wonder if you could cash flow the rest of your life off the remaining nest egg if you lived a super simple life without travel etc

    I think I have the opposite problem from what you have – my own voice is telling me that I’m lazy, whereas my parents are the ones saying “what are you talking about?, you accomplished ____ at work, you’ve done ____ with your finances.” blablabla.

    I guess life would be boring if we were all exactly the same. 🙂
    TJ recently posted…January 2017 Financial RecapMy Profile

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