Do you love someone who has been afflicted with a condition known as “slug syndrome”? This is a common disorder that can occur in humans during certain periods of their life, or it can be a life-long condition. It can be characterized by four common features:
• An inability to follow through with activities that are common tasks.
• An unwillingness to get off a conventional piece of furniture (e.g. the couch) or detach from a common household piece of equipment or appliance (e.g. a computer or TV).
• A reluctance to pursue an ambition, goal or dream because it either seems unachievable or it is too much work.
• Procrastination. This is when putting things off interferes with a well-meaning plan to the point that nothing ever gets done and unfinished activities accumulate. It can cause great stress and discontent to the significant others in the procrastinator’s life.
If this pattern sounds familiar, you may be asking, “what can I do to get my partner motivated or get my teenager to regularly assume their daily chores?”
The bad news is that if the condition is long-term or chronic, the prognosis is poor. Your loved one likely has this ingrained in their personality and may not be bothered by the condition—despite your nagging. If you ask yourself who owns the problem and your answer is that you do, it will require that you either set a consequence that clearly does not enable the condition, or change your own attitude so as not to cause undue mental stress.
It’s as simple as:
• Your teenager won’t take out the trash? Don’t allow car privileges.
• Your partner won’t contribute to the family? This is harder. You can’t withhold sex—or can you? No, I don’t advocate that!
These consequences won’t change the behavior, but it will reinforce that there is a consequence when you live the life of a slacker.
To avoid overcompensating or enabling this condition, I suggest that you look at ways to make your life more comfortable.
• Let the leaves decompose instead of raking.
• Start using paper plates instead of washing the dishes.
• No need to bust your butt to do their laundry.
I am not telling you to go on strike, but I am suggesting that you take care of yourself first and let them experience the inconvenience caused by you not taking up the slack.
If it is you that suffers from “slug syndrome”, I would ask that you:
• Prioritize what you want to change.
• Write down small steps to attaining that change. Remember, keep them small and simple.
• Create a time to do one thing daily or weekly to get you motivated and closer to your goals.
• Create a regular time to work on it.
For instance, when I need to clean my closet, I tell myself that I am going to grab a cup of coffee and straighten my closet until that first cup of coffee is gone. When I deal with a bigger goal, like seeking a new job, I address 20 envelopes so that I am more likely to send that resume out immediately instead of letting it sit on my desk.
If you have a predisposition to being a slug, you must look for strategies that will assist you in getting the job done despite yourself. Look at ways in 2010 to break old habits!