The Office Space Guide to Giving a ****

Please tell me you’ve seen Office Space.

I used to watch this incredibly under-appreciated movie on a WEEKLY basis with my high school friends. To this day, we could probably still have an entire conversation only using quotes from Peter Gibbons, Samir Nagheenanajar, Michael Bolton, Milton Waddams, and their soul-sucking boss Bill Lumbergh.  I loved this movie so much, I quoted it in my high school graduation speech – that’s how big of an impact it’s had on my life.

If you haven’t seen this comedy before, here’s a quick plot summary:

Peter Gibbons works at a desk job that he truly hates for a company he despises but doesn’t have the guts to do anything about. He’s so depressed, that “every day is worse than the day before, which means that every day you see [him], that is the worst day of [his] life.” Yikes.

His girlfriend convinces him to see a hypnotist, who suddenly dies after putting Peter under, leaving him in a permanent state of “I don’t give a ****.”  He takes this new attitude to work and immediately improves virtually every single aspect of his life.

Considering you’re probably reading this while at a desk job, I have a hunch that you can relate to Peter’s life and the challenges that he faces.  Today, Peter is going to teach you the importance of giving a ****, and how doing so can vastly level up your work, health, and life.

Feel free to listen to “Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta” from the Office Space soundtrack while reading today’s post.

It’s not that I’m lazy…

In one of the greatest scenes in cubical-based comedic cinema history (yes that’s a category), Peter is brought before two outside consultants at work who decide who to fire and who not to fire. When they ask Peter about his typical work day, with brutal honesty he explains how he shows up late every morning, uses the side door so his boss doesn’t notice, and then spaces out for hours at a time. In a given week, he does “about fifteen minutes of real, actual work.”

Absolutely dumbfounded, these consultants question Peter’s work ethic, clearly confused as to why this man would spend all day spacing out and not working harder. Fortunately, our boy Peter here continues to explain his side of the story:

He explains that it’s a lack of motivation. If he ships a few extra units, he doesn’t see another dime.  In fact, his real only motivation is to do just enough not to get fired.

He delivers the best line of the movie:

“It’s not that I’m lazy, it’s that I just don’t care.”

“It’s not that I’m lazy, it’s that I just don’t care” Video

Do you care?

Why do you do the things that you do? Why do you exercise?  Why do you make a decision to eat better? What drives you to work harder?

Every day, I get emails from people saying “Steve I want to get in shape but I don’t have any motivation to do so, can you help?” And my response is always the same: “I can provide you with plenty of inspiration and education, but the motivation to succeed has to come from within you.”

The folks that haven’t found their reasons yet are the people that half-ass it in the gym, stop their runs early, and justify unhealthy meal after unhealthy meal with excuses like “I had a rough day” or “eh, I’ll start tomorrow.”

I don’t think they’re lazy, I just think they don’t care.

There’s no motivation to succeed, there’s no motivation or inner drive to work harder, to eat healthier.

My buddy Saint spent two years in “I don’t give a **** mode.” I never thought he was lazy, I just think he didn’t have a reason to succeed. Back in January – he finally found his reason: his wedding, a honeymoon, and a $500 bet to prove everybody wrong. Since then, Saint has become one of the most driven people I know when it comes to his health and fitness. He found a reason to give a **** and his life was radically transformed.

How to give a ****

If you are early in your journey for weight loss or a healthier lifestyle, everything is working against you: bad habits, inertia, and probably a busy lifestyle where you don’t think you have time to exercise.

“I want to get in shape” is not enough for you to make positive lasting changes. It’s time to give yourself a specific reason for why you’re improving your life:

Your children: Do you have kids? Do you want them to grow up with the same health problems that you currently have? Do you want to be around for their high school graduation? Do you want to live long enough to hold your grandkids?

Your family: Don’t you want to be the best possible husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend/son/daughter that you can be? That involves being strong of mind and body, healthy and active, loyal and supportive.  Become a shining example for those around you.

Your friends: Maybe you’re not married and you don’t have kids. Why not challenge your friends to a weight loss competition or a push up contest? We run contests all the time on the Nerd Fitness message boards, where people challenge each other to be better.

Yourself: Let’s say you live in your parents’ basement, you’re single, overweight, and working a crappy job.  It’s okay to demand a better life for yourself, but nobody’s going to hand one to you.  Every super hero has an origin story and epic destiny – why not start yours today?

Applying the ****

Once you’ve found your reason for giving a ****, it’s time to apply it. Get incredibly specific with your goals so that you have something to work towards – and then it’s time to put on your hard hat and go to work:

  • A race: Want to be a better runner? Sign up and prepay for a race 10 weeks from now. Sign up with a friend and have a competition to see who can run it faster. Make a public declaration and raise money for charity.  All of a sudden skipping workouts seems like a horrible idea.
  • A contest: “I will be able to do 10 pull ups by May 2012 or I will pay you $500″ – sounds kind of crazy, right? However, you’re crazy if you think it won’t motivate you to start training towards those pull ups.
  • An event: “I want to fit into a smaller dress for my wedding next summer” or “I will have 15% body fat by the time I show up to my 10-year high school reunion.”  Great – you now have a date and time: better get started.
  • A job: “I want to become a personal trainer,” or “I want to get hired as a ___________ which requires a healthier version of me.”

As soon as things become specific, life suddenly becomes easier: every single decision you make takes you one step closer or one step further away from your goal. If you have a legitimate reason, and you have a specific goal to work towards, emotion and excuses get removed from the equation.  Think about it:

  • Do you REALLY need seven slices of pizza?
  • Does getting obliterated at the bar on Tuesday help you out in any way?
  • Is sleeping in and avoiding your workout going to take you closer to a life worth living?

Let’s make it simple: people who don’t give a **** make excuses.  People who give a **** will do anything and everything possible to achieve their goal – They will do whatever it takes, because “they want to succeed as bad as they want to breathe.”

My goal with Nerd Fitness is to get as many people out of the “don’t give a ****” group and into the “I do give a ****!” group.

How can I help you get there?

Why are you trying to live a better life?

What is your reason for giving a ****?




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23 thoughts on “The Office Space Guide to Giving a ****

  1. AWESOME post, Steve!  You had me at Peter Gibbons. 😉

    I completely agree- it’s when we decide to stop making excuses for our bad habits that enables us to take responsibility for them and CHANGE.

    I used to not give a ****.  Or, I used to really give a **** and act like I didn’t give a ****.  In the end, I felt horrible, and every single day I didn’t do anything about it made it worse.  When I finally started giving a ****, I pulled a 180 and now I help people realize that they are the **** and that happiness can be theirs if they just stop ****ting on their lives and start acting like the person they want to be.

    And once you start giving a ****, you’ll be surprised how contagious that **** is.

  2. Steve – Why this movies was passed over for Best Picture is honesty beyond my comprehension. As usual flat out epic and accurate.

    Also got my “Rebel Running Guide – you have done it AGAIN. You are utterly rocking the discotheque!

  3. I like this post. I like to turn to Nerd Fitness when i need a pep talk as you could say. I am figuring out my “self sabotage” habits. One “cheat meal” leads to 3. going out and having a beer or two leads to 5, 6, 7. Then i feel like shit.

    I’d like to hear your thoughts on self sabotaging.

  4. Yeah, a lot of out-of-shape people are not lazy. These people are very hard working in their career and other ways. But sometimes they just don’t care enough about their personal fitness. Like you said, they need a strong reason to give a shit!

    David, it’s amazing what one cheat meal can do to us eh? Like you said, one can lead to five, lol. It’s for this reason that I don’t believe in having a cheat day once a week. At least for me, that’s not a good idea.

  5. Not to be a downer, but if YOUR goal is to “get people to give a ****,” then how come you tell them all it’s not your job to motivate them?  Perhaps you should help them to find (and remember daily) their own reasons to give a ****.

    Also, while we’re being critical (sorry): do you know that your site really chokes the life out of my wi-fi?  It’s motivating to read, but it loads very slow on the computer, and my smartphone (a Droid X, less than six months old) can’t handle it at all.  Perhaps you could streamline the front page, so all the pictures are behind cut tags, or make the blog only show one entry at a time (instead of the last 5 or so).  Anything to cut down the massive gob of data bits.

  6. I agree with Ninja, on both points. It’s really easy to say, “Hey, give a crap!” when your fire is raging. This entry feels like a post-and-ditch… a disservice to an awesome movie.

    The reason Peter is so accidentally successful in the movie is because he is in a state of complete acceptance. He knows and pursues his priorities – Kung Fu movies on the couch with his lady and other things that bring him joy – is comfortable in his skin and he speaks his mind. People respond to his integrity and he is rewarded.For anyone who needs help finding their fire, there are two great strategies. First, you can focus exclusively on the basics and build from there. This is hard because society does not wire us for focus, and scary because we might have to give something up. It is precious, though, as it removes the din of all the things we don’t care about that sap our energy and time. Getting real on this is a battle in and of itself but it lays the sturdiest foundation. Knowing what is priority for you inspires confidence to fight for it.Another strategy is to just try out everything, a la the movie Yes, Man. It’s wildly inefficient but it keeps things interesting and leaves you with a degree of certainty you might not have previously known possible. In this way, failure breeds success.

    If all else fails, at least remember to savor those french fries 😉

  7. “Not to be a downer, but if YOUR goal is to “get people to give a ****,”
    then how come you tell them all it’s not your job to motivate them? 
    Perhaps you should help them to find (and remember daily) their own
    reasons to give a ****.”

    Not to be a downer, but did you somehow miss the entire section in his post titled “How to Give a ****”?

  8. Haha I love that movie so much, and you guessed it I’m reading this while sitting in my cubicle, at my desk job. It took me a long time to realize that I had to give a **** or I’d plateau for the rest of my life. I’ve made a change and I hope that others who read this will also be inspired to do so!

  9. that second motivational video with the black dude trainin is in Virginia Beach!!!! I love it there. 

  10. that second motivational video with the black dude trainin is in Virginia Beach!!!! I love it there. 

  11. Oh my. Office Space is a must for any true nerd. My goal is to have 12% body fat by my 21st birthday. Bring it :))

  12. I have an older Droid incredible and it works fine. I wonder what the difference is.. weird. 

    I think you make an interesting point in your first statement.  Imo, Nerd Fitness *is* helping people give a ****. And for many people it is a daily reminder.  No fitness guru can sit down with each and every person they meet, comb over their life and figure out what will motivate that person.  Inspiration and motivation are different things.  Steve and other NF folks are really inspiring but they aren’t motivating.  Motivation has to come from inside the individual.  Every article he writes, every epic quest he goes on, every meet up he creates and attends all serve the purpose of forming an educated, inspired community. Each member of this community has a different motivator or is searching for their motivator.  Have you checked out the forums? If not, you should. Talking with hundreds of people, reading stories, challenges, etc may inspire you or it may help you find your motivation. And once you figure that out all those people are there to cheer you on and remind you that you’re on your own journey.  So, really.. Steve has done the job you think he should be doing…just..more efficiently. 

  13. Thanks for this! I’m putting this into practice by setting up a Facebook page ( to track my efforts to lose some weight. The incentive: if I haven’t met my goal (25lbs by May 2012) I’ll give everyone who likes the page $1.

    My wife will be super-mad if I have to pay out; she’ll make sure I make my goal!

  14. I don’t care about any of that crap. My husband loves me how I am, my kids seem vital and motivated, and I don’t think being fat is inherently unhealthy (though I believe I will live a longer, better life if I get some exercise). My energy is low and sometimes I just don’t give a f***. But I’ve only got one shot at this “life” thing, and I don’t want to die thinking I just sat around and took up space. What I need to do is make a list of accomplishments, things I can look back on my death bed and say, “I did that.” That can be my motivation.

  15. I know I’m late to the game but I’d like to share my reason to give a $#!t.

    It’s been my dream for my entire adult life to own/run/live on a homestead/market garden/subsistance style farm. I can now see the light at the end of the financial tunnel and realized…. I’m not fit enough to run a farm.

    I’ve just this week started body weight training and I look forward to progress so that in 3 years when we’re ready to buy the land, I’m ready to work it.

  16. What if you passed the point of no return for what ever phase of life you are in? For instance birth-30 is life. 36(about)-45 is middle age and 48-65 would be half life (my terms). Fact, if you accomplish nothing in your life, you can not go back in time to make friends and all future friends will have no bearing on your child hood. There is no reason to care about them that deeply. In fact it may be impossible. If you don’t have a good relationship you cant get married before 30 and if you get married after 30, it speaks volumes.

    Or say you could never win a fight but in your middle age you finally can afford the training to box and succed in your 30s. Is that gonna help you escape poverty and join the military or a gang in your early life with your sheer dangerous qualities? No. It makes you an old person with personal issues and zero accomplishments socially.

    And if you enter into middle age with an awful life. Then you enter into it with an awful middle age. Everything that constitutes a healthy sense of self would be gone from your life. Things that produce critical key momentum you need decades to compound the interest on those investments can never happen.

    I mean you can’t even get a job over 30 without experience.

    So maybe this is true. You can avoid this trap if you are starting out and someone lets you know. Buy by 25, if you lost too much. Your life is SOL. You mine as well take improv classes because you will spend the rest of your life lying to people to hide your failures.

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