Wellness on the Farm: Lazy is a Dangerous Word

Ted Matthews

Mar 12, 2019

I honestly don’t think you can call a farmer anything worse than “lazy.” If I am already working too much, too many hours, too hard, and I’m too tired, and then I think of myself as lazy for not getting something done, then I may push myself even harder.

That’s when the odds improve greatly for a farm accident. I believe that one of the top reasons that farm accidents can occur stems from the concept of laziness.

If you’re doing the best you can, you aren’t lazy.

Sometimes, we feel like we are “being lazy,” but what is actually happening is that we do not have enough energy to get all of our many daily tasks and chores accomplished.

When we have more to do, we often end up getting less done because the overwhelming feeling makes us slow down and we become anxious and stuck in our thoughts.

It’s true, and important to note that not having enough energy could be a symptom of a different health issue, such as depression.

But that is not always the case, and not having enough energy can also simply be that you are trying to get an unrealistic amount of tasks, chores or work done in a day. It could be too much for any human to accomplish!

We typically react to the concept of laziness in one of two ways:

1. We push ourselves harder.

2. We get angry.

Sometimes, both.

What we need to do instead is to focus on ourselves, making healthy choices and habits, and how to safely prioritize our day.

When we focus on ourselves, we have to replace the word “lazy” with another simple word: honesty.

If you are someone who has been called lazy.

We can’t focus on someone else’s assessment of us, and it won’t be helpful to react in anger.

If I know that I am working hard, I don’t need someone else to decide that for me. If I know that I am not working hard enough, I can try harder and re-prioritize… but this should be a decision based on my own self-assessment, not a decision made to please others.

This is called self-motivation! A motivation would be asking yourself, “How can we get this job done sooner?”

If someone else is calling you lazy outright, this sounds like manipulation, not a motivation. A manipulation would sound like someone telling you, “You’re, lazy—get that job done!”

If you are someone who calls others lazy, your motivations may actually be manipulation:

1. To get them to work harder

2. To call them a name to incite conflict

What happens when you take this approach?

1. If this does what you want, then using this word came at a price because it was manipulative and likely hurt the person.

2. If their reaction was negative, why do it again?

Hurt and anger never solves any problems, so calling someone lazy may seem to get the job done, but the price of damaging your relationship and the risk of accident or injury is too high.

How can you do it differently?

Look in the mirror, call yourself lazy—what emotions does that inspire? Instead, ask yourself, “What is the most efficient way to actually get the job done,” or “How can I encourage this person and help to motivate them to get the job done?” I have yet to see calling someone lazy to be the most helpful or efficient way.

Procrastination isn’t the same as laziness.

Sometimes we mistakenly identify procrastination with laziness. If it’s my turn to clean out the manure pit, but it’s a job I really do not like, then I will probably procrastinate and do it only when I absolutely have to.

Does that mean I am lazy? No! It means I just don’t like that job, and I will wait as long as I can to do it. It is a natural feeling… but I do have to get the job done eventually.

And not getting the job done in a timely manner could also create the risk of a farm accident, injury, or put the farm at an operational risk for missing an opportunity.

For your mental health, and the health of the farm, always remember that on the farm lazy is a four-letter word. 
For more helpful advice about improving farmer mental health visit www.farmcounseling.org.

The views expressed in this article are the author's alone and not those of Farmer's Business Network, Inc., its affiliates or members.

Ted Matthews

Mar 12, 2019