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You are sitting at home, staring at the TV. There is nothing good on, nothing you feel terribly compelled to watch, yet there you are staring at some nonsensical program anyway. In the back of your mind looms that task that you know needs to be done by tomorrow. The sense of urgency and mild panic that comes with knowing that it isn’t finished and that time is growing short is present. However, you just can’t seem to bring yourself to get your butt up off that couch and get to work. You curse yourself for being that way, perhaps you might even make an attempt to get up and get at it. Then you realize your mind is on vacation and won’t give you anything to work with anyway, so you resign yourself to a boring night of television and impending failure.

Why do we do this to ourselves? What is about the apathy that can be all encompassing and paralyzing that it will override even the nagging feelings of foreboding? Why are we willing to deal with consequences of not finish the task, even if they are horrible? Apathy is usually a by-product of something else … a subconscious reason that keeps us from doing what is important. Very rarely is apathy just a reason within itself. It is usually brought on by a hidden fear or feeling we have yet to uncover. The following are some of the more common reasons behind our inability to get off our lazy butts and get going:

Love of complaining

You know this one …if not for yourself, certainly by others you are acquainted with. Some of us just love to complain. We don’t like things the way they are, we wish someone would do something about it. But the second it is suggested that we be the ones to do something about it, the excuses begin immediately. The problem is that we really don’t want things to change or not to have to worry about finishing something that has remained undone. Deep down, we just really like have something to whine about, something to blame our inherent unhappiness on. If we actually took responsibility for the situation, and Heavens forbid DID something about it, what would we have to bitch about? (But to be perfectly honest, one could always find something else to complain about, so this reason isn’t the most valid. So get over it and get going!)

Avoiding failure

Now this is a big one, and a very subtle one as it is usually buried deep down in our subconscious fears. It certainly isn’t one of those things we think about right away. However, if we were to do something, complete it and turn it over to whomever it needs to be turned over to, there is the chance that it will be criticized or rejected. The idea that effort could be dismissed or attacked could be taken as a dismissal or attack on who we are. Rejection of something someone does is often considered rejection of the person as well. Unfortunately, rejection is something that happens in life, so the sooner we take a more reasonable attitude about it, the sooner this reason will not paralyze us from doing what needs to be done. After all, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Fear of consequences

This is part of avoiding failure, but it is far more creative in the directions it goes in. This is usually the product of an overactive imagination that likes to make the ultimate nightmares for the individual. The weird scenarios of what could happen starts to take a life of its own, giving the person the idea that what they need to do might just be a really bad idea. Never mind that the scenarios are often incredibly far-fetched, but the mind can make them so likely and real, they become convincing arguments. Such as, if I do the report and point out the deficiency that is clearly in the department, everyone is going to hate me because I’m suggesting they are not doing their jobs right. Then I will be shunned or possibly fired because everyone will be out to get me. There is risk with anything worth doing. However, some risks are a lot less likely than others.

Not what you want

It’s amazing what we can talk ourselves into doing because it seems like a good idea at the time, but isn’t really something that speaks to us. Yeah, sure it would be smart to sign up for training in that software that companies really need technicians for, hence causing you to rake in the bucks. But what if you really have no interest in computers? Hence, you are doing something for outside reasons, but not for the right reasons. If you have no passion for a particular vocation, why do it? Do you honestly think you will do a good job in it if you don’t care about it? Same goes with other tasks. Your friend has a really good idea for something you would be great at, something you might have a real aptitude for. But what if the fact you are good at it has nothing to do with liking it. We often have talents for things we could really careless about. It is important to determine when you are settling for doing something you happen to be good at, but happen not enjoy.

Next time you find apathy getting a hold of you, question it. Get at the reasons behind it. Without understanding what caused the apathy, there really is no hope of adequately fighting it. You can try to get up and force yourself to do it, but as we have all experienced at one point or another, if you really aren’t into doing it, it will reflect in your results.

Questions to consider

  • What outcomes do I fear could result from doing this?
  • Do I honestly think I will fail?
  • What if I do fail? Does that necessarily reflect on me as a person?
  • Am I able to handle constructive criticism?
  • Do I really care to do the task I have been assigned?
  • Do I have to do it anyway, or am I just making myself do it?
  • Am I just putting it off because I like to complain about it?