How I Use My Worst Habit To Get Exactly What I Want
This post brought to you by Wealthsimple.
I am a lazy person. And I say this with no shame, though I would be lying if I said that looking at the accomplishments of industry peers younger, more attractive, and more fashionably-dressed than myself didn’t occasionally flush me with a bit of frustration around my own failures to push myself more in their glamorous direction. That’s human — I know that I undersell on some fronts when it comes to what I’m capable of because, quite frankly, the proposition of watching trashy TV while eating Hot Fries on my bed is often so much more interesting than whatever extra work I could be doing. There are relatively quantifiable areas of my life in which I could be doing more, in which I could have more, perhaps even in which I could be more. And sometimes that feels a bit frustrating, but never shameful. Because I have learned, particularly in the past few years, that laziness can be an incredible divining rod in life — it points you squarely and without error towards exactly what is truly important or essential, and nothing more. And I consider that much more an advantage than a stumbling block.
I’m an entrepreneur. And particularly in the media and financial spaces, which we effortlessly straddle like Jean Claude Van Damme between two moving trucks, that means I am surrounded by people for whom “lazy” is the ultimate four-letter word. These are people who write self-important LinkedIn posts about their eye-searingly efficient daily routine. (It should be noted here that LinkedIn is indeed the only social platform where writing about the fact that you get up at 4:15 in the morning to read news before your 5 AM daily workout would be perceived as aspirational, rather than a cry for help.) And I know that this environment, where everyone is constantly #hustling, #grinding, upping their #productivity and #hacking their #growth, can perhaps infect my sense of what is and isn’t normal in terms of personal energy levels, but I still realize that the world at large encourages people to be less lazy. We are driven to pack our days with micro-activities that help us reach our goals, to get up as early as we can (even if there are those of us who on very literal, physiological levels work much better at night). Americans work nearly the longest hours in the developed world, and are one of the only countries on the planet without guaranteed maternity leave. “Work, work, work, and when you’re not at work, be working at something” seems to be our cultural ethos.
And when you are a fundamentally lazy person (or, really, even if you’re just a normal human), that kind of environment can feel incredibly stifling. I simply don’t want to work all the time, and I own my own business for crying out loud! If I am not constantly motivated by the thought of tending to my professional garden, who would be? But I also realize that my laziness has manifested in many non-professional things, too: I am a world-class procrastinator on domestic tasks (I’ve got cooking and cleaning down to a science, but can delay the mailing of a letter for literally months at a time). I avoid the feeling of having to go out of my way for something at all costs, and am constantly packing my days with tasks in clusters that always contain at least one thing I actually want to do, or else my selfish toddler brain will refuse to do the stuff that really needs doing.
But I have learned — again, particularly over the past few years — that taking shortcuts, not wanting to put in the extra work, and putting off the more tedious stuff can be seriously leveraged to one’s advantage. Going out of your way to find the easiest way to do something, and being ruthlessly honest with yourself about what is and isn’t worth your time can be immensely clarifying, and ensure that you are getting the most out of both that time and the energy that must go into it. I’ve let “meh” friendships slowly fade naturally instead of keeping them on time-consuming life support out of a misplaced belief that any real friendships should automatically last a lifetime. I’ve given up hobbies that no longer felt good, or felt like they were teaching me something I wanted to know. I’ve outsourced tasks in my life that were incredibly time-consuming and yielded poor results, and I’ve learned when to ask for help on things I know I have a hard time holding myself accountable for (it’s been years since I’ve done my own taxes, and the up-front cost of a few hundred dollars on my personal taxes has gotten me literal thousands back over the years which I never would have known how to get on my own). Being lazy, and leaning into that laziness where you have the option (obviously not on essential tasks which need to be done well, and by you) frees up your brain to focus on those aforementioned things that cannot be shortcut. Laziness can be your guiding light.
There is simply an enormous amount that one can do to get closer to what one wants without ever really having to “work” for it, especially when it comes to money. You can put your savings and bill-paying largely on autopilot, as I have. You can put artificial stops in place against your worst habits, like going on all-cash diets and un-caching your card info from your computer and apps. You can be honest with your friends about needing to err towards less costly social activities. But you can also start investing, even with just a couple dollars a month.
For the longest time, I believed that building a healthy money life would require me to constantly be “working at” it, but I’ve learned that the case is in many ways the opposite: putting a few simple processes in place (at the younger age the better) can literally do the work for you, and earn you money as you sleep. And if you’ve ever thought about starting with investing but didn’t know where to turn, you should check out Wealthsimple.
Wealthsimple is an online investing service that is as simple and human as it gets. They’ll build you a custom portfolio to fit your personal needs, goals, and timeline. Just answer a few simple questions about your financial goals and they’ll manage it for you on autopilot. Set it, forget it, let it go to work in the background and drown out the noise along the way. (They also offer a Socially Responsible Investing portfolio that invests in companies that support gender diversity.) You can set up automatic deposits from your bank account as well as set up a smart savings accounts with higher rates than big banks for your shorter term goals (your wedding, your next great adventure, or that handbag you ‘need’). The fees are much lower than traditional investors and TFD viewers get a $50 cash bonus for getting started! Check them out at Wealthsimple.com/TFD or use the link in our description. You can get started with literally one dollar, and it only takes a few minutes — no excuses!
Ultimately, I don’t think that my laziness is the first quality I would want to put on my CV, or on a dating site (if I weren’t already married). I know that there are many ways in which a more type-A, naturally-driven temperament would enrichen my life. But when it comes to money, I’m very lucky in that this very laziness can be an asset — setting and forgetting your money to grow, and not bothering it for years on end — can often be the best way to get to the financial life you want to be living. Building wealth very often means doing nothing, just in a very smart way. And you can get started right now, no matter how lazy you might be.
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