I feel as though I've become lazy and complacent. How can I get back to my "old self"?
April 1, 2007 8:40 AM   Subscribe

I feel as though I've become lazy and complacent. How can I get back to my "old self"?

To cut to the chase, I'm in my late 20s and have what most could call (myself included) a happy and successful life. You know, the fulfilling job, beautiful wife, nice house, great friends, etc. For as long as I can remember I've been optimistic, aggressive about getting what I want and rarely sat still. Yes, I'm a Type A personality. Sure, nothing is perfect... but I have more than most and I'm grateful for it.

That said, now that I'm getting a little older I find myself becoming what I would consider lazy and complacent. I find that I'm starting to settle for things that I wouldn't have been happy with years ago. I lack the desire to fight as hard as I used to, opting instead for what's easy. And I HATE IT when I do it but I can't make myself stop. As a response, I've tried to convince myself to change my ways (as I consciously know that I am the only one that has control over how I act)... but I'm lacking the discipline to see through these changes. Whether its proper exercise, eating better, cleaning the house or even getting around to doing my taxes I just don't have the energy or drive to get it done. Hell, I even started looking at volunteer to help others and get outside of my head but I keep making excuses and haven't done it yet.

I know in my head what I think is the right thing to do, but I'm failing miserably at turning it into an actionable reality. Am I depressed? Am I just a moron? What has worked for you when you're stuck in a rut a looking for a way out?
posted by tundro to Human Relations (16 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
Thanks for posting this; you've basically described me also. I thought maybe I'd ask such a question, too, but . . . well, I couldn't muster up the motivation. :-\
posted by CommonSense at 9:28 AM on April 1, 2007

Don't go alone on these changes. If you find yourself lacking the discipline to do things yourself, talk to your wife about things and see if she'll help you see things through.

Don't make changes too extreme. Start with small and enjoyable things. Make things tangible by writing them down.

E.g., put time aside specifically for exercise and do exercise that you find enjoyable (biking? a sport like tennis?). Vary it as needed. Eating better? The best thing is variety/moderation and avoiding artificial things if possible (saturated fats, for instance, are only really unhealthy if artificial; natural saturated fats like butter are actually quite good for you).

In short: small changes and variety are key. A helping hand is a bonus.
posted by stance at 9:58 AM on April 1, 2007

"The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change" - Carl Rogers.

Seriously: it's sometimes useful to remind yourself that there is, in an ultimate sense, nothing wrong with being lazy and complacent. Personally, I am least likely to make a change when I feel that I am being told that I must - even if the person doing the telling is me.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 9:59 AM on April 1, 2007 [3 favorites]

This may seem like an indirect solution, but go travel. This will re-stimulate what it is in life that is most important. I think it is normal to become lazy and complacent when you find yourself in a groove where the tempo is the same all the time. It doesn't matter if this is a good groove or a bad groove, it is the human condition to get bogged down by routine. If you were to drop everything and go explore China for a month I think you would find that when you arrive back home your perspective would be refreshed and you could effectively reevaluate what is important. You need to go out and wake yourself up again to the conviction that life is fucking amazing.
posted by pwally at 10:12 AM on April 1, 2007

Maybe travel would work; I doubt it. It's very possible to travel and find what you discover while travelling to be uninspiring.

I don't think you need to add exotic and thrilling elements to your life. I think you need to re-engage yourself with your own life. I do think you are depressed.

I found both this talk by Dan Gilbert and this one by Barry Schwartz, both from past TED conferences, to be very illuminating on the subject of happiness. I recommend them both.
posted by argybarg at 11:01 AM on April 1, 2007 [5 favorites]

Maybe if you'd looked for a witty, intelligent, driven wife instead of a beautiful one you would have someone right in your house to turn to and ask this question.

How is this a helpful answer?

I've heard a lot of recommendations for the book, Getting Things Done. A close friend is reading it now and finding it very helpful. I'm next in line to borrow it.

I agree with Stance. Write down a small goal for the week and follow through. Productivity begets productivity.

I also agree with posters that have suggested switching up your routine and seeking out interesting activities.
posted by LoriFLA at 11:21 AM on April 1, 2007

argybarg thanks for the videos they are great.
posted by pwally at 12:03 PM on April 1, 2007

dude, relax. for one thing, you might not be settling for less so much as choosing your battles better. you probably have a better sense of what's worth your energy and what isn't. so the first thing you need to do is not spend so much energy beating yourself up about it.

but if you feel like you're in a rut, make a list of 5 or 10 concrete things you want to accomplish or change this year. get your wife in on the project, if there are things you'll require her approval and/or participation in (i.e.: move to paris or quit my job to go back to school). make a calendar, if necessary.

then do it.
posted by thinkingwoman at 12:20 PM on April 1, 2007

I'm in the same boat, sorta. I need to start exercising regularly again, but I haven't been able to stick to it.

It seems to be cyclical for me, at least. 2 years ago I just decided one day to start getting up at 5:30am and drag myself to the gym, no matter what it took. I did it for almost a year and it really was great. Then I changed jobs, met my girlfriend, bought a house, etc. Exercising fell down the totem poll of priorities.

Now that things have calmed down and becoming more routine, I need to just start dragging myself out of bed again or exercise after work, no matter how nice it feels to hit snooze and roll over and snuggle up with my soon-to-be fiance, or watch HDTV on my comfortable couch.
posted by jbiz at 12:53 PM on April 1, 2007

Maybe it's a case of "Is that all there is?" ism.
posted by konolia at 1:13 PM on April 1, 2007

Response by poster: for the record... my wife isn't only beautiful... she's drop dead smart (a Phd), wonderful, caring and funny. When I said "beautiful" I meant as an all around person. Not just looks.

That said, all your ideas are good ones (thanks!). I actually travel pretty regularly, but as its for my job I don't think that counts... although I do find myself around interesting people in surprising situations.

So far I think what resonates with me the best is start with the little things. That makes sense to me. Although maybe its an issue of patience that I haven't seen more of the little things through to the bigger things. Keep the ideas coming... I can use all the help I can get.
posted by tundro at 1:49 PM on April 1, 2007

I think there's a big difference between being content and being happy. Society tells us that we should do what makes us happy. "The pursuit of happiness" is part of our national psyche. But at a certain point, we need to learn to recognize contentment. Life can't about constant happiness-seeking. Maybe you should feel happy that you are content. It becomes burdensome for people you love when they know that you are always looking for something better.

On the other hand, if you truly are not happy with how you are living your life, you should try to do something about it. You say that you make up excuses for not following through with things. I do the same thing, too. What I will do is force myself to do things that I don't necessarily feel like doing. I mean, I might feel like joining a book club a month from now, so I'll sign up. But when a month from now comes around, I no longer feel like going. So I'll just force myself to go. Once you force yourself to go and you actually get to wherever it is you're going, volunteer to take responsibility for something, i.e. if it's a book club, sign up to bring the dessert for the next meeting. If you know that people are counting on you for some reason, you'll be more likely to go the next time.

I understand what you're going through. I'm also in my 20s and I'm a notorious quitter--just check my MeFi profile. I was almost going to go to a MeFi meetup in L.A. but chickened out at the last minute and ate pizza and nachos instead.

P.S. Have you ever considered speaking with a life coach? This is probably what they are trained (?) to deal with.
posted by HotPatatta at 3:08 PM on April 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

Two contradictory thoughts:

Perhaps it is time to turn the gaze inward instead of outward? In a very short amount of time you've accomplished what it takes many people a lifetime to achieve. Yet you still feel like being satisfied is a bad thing. What drives you so much, what makes you so discontented? If what you have achieved so far does not fill you with a sense of satisfaction, then perhaps something is broken with your satisfaction-meter.

Or, as you mentioned, perhaps it is time to expand your circle beyond wife and house and career and into community and world. You're obviously a smart person, and the world needs smart people to work for its betterment. Get involved with that volunteering you were talking about. I don't think life's baubles will keep you happy - you need a sense that you are making a difference in the world around you.
posted by sherlockt at 6:34 PM on April 1, 2007

Maybe travel would work; I doubt it. It's very possible to travel and find what you discover while travelling to be uninspiring.

Wow. I've rarely related less to two sentences. Travel most definitely does WONDERS for me. It gets me off my ass & often makes me appreciate my life more as well as open up my perspectives. There's so much great stuff to learn about and experience in this world... if we just get off the freaking couch.
posted by miss lynnster at 7:14 PM on April 1, 2007

It's okay to settle down and be content. Not to say that you shouldn't have ambitions or strive for greater things, but being constantly unhappy enough with the things in your life that you always want something different won't make you happy.

An aphorism that I think is really true is "Happiness isn't attained by getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you have."

Do you want what you have? THEN BE HAPPY.

It's okay. Some "type A" (whatever that means) types just won't allow themselves to be okay with what they have.

Maybe read some J.R. "Bob" Dobbs and learn to appreciate slack for what it is.
posted by MythMaker at 11:10 PM on April 1, 2007

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