What to Do When You Can’t Be Bothered to Do Anything


I just can't be bothered... ‘I just can’t be bothered!’ This can be a problem when  you’re self-employed.  And I’ve been experiencing it lately,  perhaps not surprisingly. But these moments or phases  come at all kinds of different times in the world of self-  employment, and it’s one of those perennial questions:  how to stay self-motivated?


There are plenty of articles on how to motivate yourself, or stay motivated, on the internet if you look for them.  But there is one thing that spiritual business people need to do before any of these, and that is not ‘do’ anything.Yes.  Just stay in the place you are at, that place of ‘can’t be bothered.’  It’s possible this might be a bit frightening; after all, you might go into that place and never get out of it. But it’s that fear that is causing some of the problem in the first place. This conscious ‘not doing’ is the first step of four that allows you to become inspired, rather than motivated, and then allows you to take steps forward that feel entirely natural, rather than forced in any way.

Step One: Stop

Take your courage in both hands and simply stop – wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, even if it’s just lolling around feeling guilty that you’re not doing anything. Stay with the feeling of lethargy, or apathy or whatever you have labelled it. By ‘doing’ this, you give your heart a chance to speak, your soul a chance to say ‘hallo,’ and your connection to universal energy to therefore be felt.

Step Two: Be Still

Be still for long enough to have a sense of what your heart and soul have to say to you. Being still is often a challenge in our society, particularly in our working world, where constant activity is applauded and recognised. I heard the other day of someone who expected his volunteer labour force to work from 9-3pm without a break.  OK, they then received a great lunch, and a long rest, but those six hours of constant physical work was too much. Not surprisingly, the volunteers didn’t last very long, causing high turnover of people with all the attendant problems that brings. Being still doesn’t necessarily mean your physical body, although that is often the case. It is really referring to stilling the activity of the mind, and this sometimes happens through physical exercise, or as a result of that.  So just see which kind of ‘being still’ appeals to you.

Step Three: Listen

Make sure you listen out for the messages from your heart. These may come in many different ways, and it’s helpful to know how they may present, so you can identify that this is a communication from your heart or soul. You might notice that a thought, seemingly unconnected to anything, pops into your head. Or maybe your eyes will get attracted by something particular that suddenly has meaning for you.  This happened for me recently, when I was eating with some friends and took some time out from the conversation; in that moment, my eyes travelled to my bookcase where I was drawn to a particular book which I haven’t looked at for at least 15 years.  Later, reading it, I found the perfect passage to help me with what I was feeling at that time.

Perhaps you’ll ‘hear’ words, as if spoken inside your head.  Some people find communication happens when they start writing; others use the power of images to help them hear their heart. If you haven’t done this ever, then you can ask your unconscious to give you an image of where you are at in your business, and see what that represents for you. Maybe you’ll just feel an inner nudge, or an impulse, or a good feeling about something.  And it’s possible that none of these will happen, in which case wait longer, if you can.

I have sometimes played with this idea of waiting at a weekend, deliberately setting up a day without any commitments, and then waiting to see what happens when I wake up.  How long does it take to get out of bed when you don’t have to (I don’t count the need for bathroom or food, these are simply survival needs)?  What exactly is it that motivates or inspires you to get out of bed at all?  It’s an interesting exercise to do, just to watch with curiosity, and no judgment.

Step Four: Act

This is where many people fall down. Having stopped, been still, listened, then it is time for action. But how many times have you had an idea, been inspired to carry it out, but then got distracted?  It’s the taking of the action that is required for that original heart inspiration to become manifest in the physical world.  So watch out for falling at this final fence. If you have been courageous enough to take the previous three, then follow through and take even just the first step necessary to have your inspiration become reality.

And there you are – that ‘can’t be bothered’ feeling has been given breathing space, and then metamorphosed into something else. Remember that the next time you’re overcome with lethargy, and see what action wants to emerge from you, rather than you trying hard to motivate yourself.

31 thoughts on “What to Do When You Can’t Be Bothered to Do Anything

  1. Great post – I so agree that doing, doing, doing is hugely overvalued in our society and that it is vital to listen to those inner signals that may be telling you to do something different, or to just be. If I have a work day where I find that I don’t feel like working, I try much more nowadays to go with it, asking myself ‘So if you don’t feel like doing this, what do you feel like doing?’ And then I try to let myself do that instead, even if it’s NOT working. It might be for instance doing some simple mundane task that doesn’t require me to think, or to be ‘out there’ marketing myself. I am discovering that if I let myself go with the flow, then the desire to do the more ‘out there’ challenging stuff naturally comes back when it’s ready.

    Of course, it’s not always possible to do what you really want to do when you want to do it, but when you work for yourself, it’s I am finding that it’s often more possible than I think it is.

    • Liz, I think your reply is great. You have described how I feel right now, I mean right now. I am unemployed, looking for a job that will make the best use of my skills and be satisfying some of the time. I’ve also got a 30-year-old VW van sitting on the drive defying me to fix it. I don’t want to do either of these things today. I know I probably will tomorrow – and I shouldn’t worry because the world probably won’t come crashing around my ears!

  2. Perfect Timing !

    I feel lighter already after reading your wise words. I´ve been taking steps 1, 2 and 3 and got scared at step 4 ! Now I have given myself the permission to take action – whatever that maybe ! In gratitude Jane, your a wise women, thank you for being part of my life, warmly Maggie

  3. Thanks for sharing this, Jane. I found it very timely and a great reminder to those of us who are self-employed. I’ll be following your Stop-Be Still-Listen-Act more often. I enjoy your reflections very much and look forward to hearing from you again.

  4. Thank you for reminding me of the great value in stopping and being still. I had a chronic illness for many years and one of the things that I learned to do was to sit and be. Of course during this sitting and being I encountered some challenging emotions and my impulse was to do something, anything rather than sit with it, however because I had ‘chronic fatigue’, the doing wasn’t so easy. I gradually cultivated a time for stillness every day and used that time to be with myself. I journaled and practised being mindful and eventually I began to love it. Now that I am on the path to wellness and have begun to work again, even if for just a few hours a week, I still practise this ‘quiet time’.

    Your post has affirmed something in me today as I woke up feeling like I couldn’t be bothered to do anything, however now I am writing this and will write in my blog soon.

    All best wishes

  5. Just what I need to be reminded about Jane. Thanks. There’s something about the void of late Jan. early Feb that often lays a grey pall over my mood and energy.
    My answer has been to have a laugh, by setting up my new blog The Procrastinator’s Daily Delight. http://janemillercoaching.wordpress.com
    I’d love it if anyone wanted to visit and add any of their own contribution. But of course, I understand if no one gets round to it.

    • Very funny Jane – I will of course have a look at your new blog, it sounds great. Hope I won’t procrastinate on this too long though; and of course I’ll have to wait until I ‘can be bothered’ 🙂

  6. Hi Liz,
    I totally agree with your article. This is especially true for peole who are in the creative sector. I am about to venture into self employment, with an innovative idea. The problem I have, is that I get so excited about my venture coming to fruition, that I actually fear the success! and this builds my barriers to that success!. Weird eh? Your words have helped me to calm down & take it all in, listening to what my heart is telling me, instead of my mind. Thanks for your wisdom. With love, Marcie x

    • Great Marcie, your new venture sounds exciting. Fear of success is actually one of the main things that can get in the way, especially when either setting out in self-employment (it’s a great way to keep yourself stuck) or when moving from a self-employed ‘job’ to running a small business. Fortunately there’s lots of ways to let go of that fear and move forward anyway.

  7. Hello I just googled ” I cant be bothered to do anything ” and got you lot – which is good because – I have some great ideas for books but am afraid of failure and success and some of you are saying it happens to them too.
    I work as well but which can get tough and overwhelming. So at the moment I have no work lined up yet am frozen creatively, I am writing my blog though and this cheers me up. I suppose I feel I have so much talent but no one ever notices this so I feel depressed. As an artist though – I know that you must keep on looking for inspiration and just keep on pushing through this helps to move the negative vibes. Also you have to do the creations for yourself at times – Its therapy for your soul. So much better being out than in, Thanks for listening…

  8. Thanks Guys,
    nice to know I’m not the only one feeling this way. I also google searched Can’t be bothered… wasn’t expecting to find exactly what I needed. Jane, big thank you for the reminder to be still. And to use the creative tools we have to get back to our center.
    Your post also helped relieve the guilt of not doing.
    Have a week before returning to work. Have some guilt free, still time, me time to put in.

    All the best everyone.

  9. Great article found through a search and so nice to hear we are all human and not alone in these feelings. I like the Winnie The Pooh quotes “even a stopped clock is right twice a day” and “it’s fine to sit on the fence for a while, as long as you know which side to come down on”. Not WtP but also good, “it’s a marathon and not a race”. Take care peeps and don’t sweat the small things, it’s all gravy, it’s just a ride ! Enjoy the breaks !

  10. Wow! Releasing my guilt of `cant be bothered` has given me instant inspiration, thank you. Discovering I have permission to realx and `just be` is liberating after working a 1000 mile an hour 60hr week plus managing my home, my family and all the financial matters. If I had more time I would start a website to try and help all the millions of people like myself who should be embracing our `down time` instead of berating ourselves and losing such precious moments to negative thoughts. Thank you for changing my life.

    • Thanks Lisa. The value of ‘just being’ has indeed been completely lost in the Western World. May you enjoy your lovely lovely down time!

  11. I to googled ‘I just can’t be bothered’, hoping to force-motivate myself. I work from home but not for myself but my partner works for himself and we are both making steps to expand his business. I do have the motivation to do it when the red tape is sorted out. That’s not the problem. The problem is life now, the last few weeks I have struggled every day. I have been working but it’s been forced. I have been ‘out there’ but it has been forced.

    Again today I woke up not wanting to even get up but feeling I have to. Feeling I have to fill my time all of the time. Planning things for the weekend but not wanting to but I can’t live with the guilt of not wanting to fill my time It seems crazy now I have read your post. I am going to be still, I’m going to listen to the messages today. Thank you! On Saturday, Sunday and Monday I am not at work. Instead of thinking I have to do the overtime offered, I have to sort out the garden, I have to take our parents for a meal etc etc and feeling guilty because I ‘just can’t be bothered’ I am going to be still each day and see what happens. I thank you for making me listen to myself!

    • Wonderful Andrea. This post is turning out to be a very popular one – it seems lots of people identify with not being bothered! I’m so glad you found it helpful.

  12. Great timing! Like….doing….absolutely….nothing……was how I felt yesterday afternoon. And I did listen to my inner wisdom. And in just pootling around I found this, which confirmed my insight. Thanks.

  13. This is advice I have come across before – slightly differently put but the same ideas. I am now in my second year of doing nothing but beginning to find a few thoughts that might turn into ideas one day. It might be an afternoon or it might be five years – listen to your body and relax into a more productive (eventually) way of life.

  14. Well this is interesting, I have had the cant be bothered feeling for a couple of months now, feeling like I have to force myself to do it. I am now working for myself at something I was great at in the corporate world, had some early success and now can’t be bothered anymore… worried I was depressed, over the hill, not capable any more or just lost my mojo.

    Just spent an hour chilling out, relaxing and not feeling guilty about it, asking myself why I feel like this and it’s fine to be this way…Can’t say I have all the answers yet but I can feel they are coming… need to enjoy what I am doing more, so now pondering how I can do that and the answers are coming…

    Not being bothered could be the most positive thing that has happened to me, am feeling like I might need to completely change my approach and also how I feel about failure and success. Deep awakenings I feel.

    A powerful lesson…

    Thank you.

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