Doing Just The Minimum

I had planned to write a blog today about people who find themselves not giving their all in life or skimping out in certain areas…and then I saw on Facebook a post by one of my favorites pages, Humans of New York (www.humansofnewyork.com) The idea behind HONY is the photographer takes pictures of strangers around New York City and includes a quote of  what the person said during the interaction with the photographer. I absolutely love the art that is created; including two of my most adored things: New York City and people.

Here is the picture that HONY posted today and the quote:

individual counseling

“I don’t know why I’m not able to throw myself 100% into things.”

That’s a really powerful and authentic statement. Now I have to say that I don’t know this man so I have absolutely no idea why he in particular feels that he can’t throw himself 100% into things, but the reason it was on my heart today to write about this topic is because many people feel this way.

I think there are several reasons that people can find themselves doing just the minimum in life or areas of their lives. The major undercurrent is usually some level of depression. The stereotype is that people with depression act and look like the folks in the pharmaceutical commercials. Yes, there are many who are struggling even today with major depressive symptoms that greatly affect the quality of their lives. This post though is about a different segment of the population.  It’s about those people who feel that they don’t throw themselves fully into life but who are out functioning “normally,” so their depression might be hidden.

Another possibility of why some people do just the minimum required, whether it be in their jobs, physical health, relationships or parenting is maybe they feel defeated even before they start. Someone who has tried to lose weight, only to face the fact that they can’t maintain weight loss will not feel as inclined to throw themselves back into a different season of exercise and eating healthy. The last attempt or attempts have not worked so why give 100% this time? Try at say 40% and when it doesn’t work out the built in excuse is readily available and not a lot of effort was given to a failing task. It’s a really defeated way of thinking but probably keeps many people stuck right where they are in life.

Another form of doing the minimum is in relationships. Some people can get incredibly lazy and do just the minimum needed to keep outright conflict from happening but they don’t consistently do enough to turn the direction of the ship to something vibrant and engaging in the relationship. Just enough and not an ounce more of effort is how these folks participate in a couplehood.  Relational laziness is often recreated from what people saw growing up and/or someone disengaged from the relationship but won’t bother doing anything dramatic; so they do the minimum needed.

Careers rise and fall based on effort put in and if someone gives just the minimum in the workplace, people start to notice and not in a positive way. Most of us have worked with people who are “that guy” or “that woman” who stays under the radar just enough to not get fired but they really are not pulling their weight nor showing initiative on projects.

What’s the solution for people who find themselves wondering about why they don’t give 100% of themselves to things in life? The best starting place is to recognize that it’s happening. Then ask why have the feelings of giving just the minimum to life become a pattern or habit. Then, if LASTING change (and yes I made lasting in big letters to make a point) can’t occur, that is a super time to find a counselor that you connect with and start working to become free of the heavy chains minimal living have you trapped in. Minimum living is the opposite of living vibrantly and we were made for so much more than drudging through each day, just squeaking out only what’s required of us. It’s hard for the person who feels defeated and it’s hard on the people not getting 100%  from someone in their life.