I'm about to graduate with my BS and begin a PhD program in statistics. However, I have some doubts about my ability to succeed just because everyone says that a PhD is a grueling, long journey and that work ethic is more important than just being smart. I think my motives for doing the degree are fine -- I don't intend on trying to join academia and I want to do the degree because I find the field powerful and because I want access to the research roles in industry that are generally more interesting. I'm young, have no debt, and my program is fully-funded so I think that helps the opportunity cost aspect, although there is always what me and my friends joke about as the "opportunity cost of not becoming a software engineer."
However, throughout college and my education thus far, I feel like I have been extremely lazy. One of the reasons why I enjoyed studying math and statistics on a structural level in terms of college major was that the courses generally had two or three grades; midterm, final, and sometimes graded homework. So pretty much since my grade depended only on those things I would just study like one day in advance of each exam and forget about the course entirely in between. I don't think I've studied for a single exam more than a day in advance in my entire four years. Also, unless a class had mandatory attendance (nearly all of the math/stats classes did not) I would ditch it. I would rather just read out of the textbook myself and I can't listen to people teach math to me because the speed of my thoughts does not match the speed of how people talk. Overall, I think I have a realistic view of my abilities though. I'm not a genius or anything, just lazy, so I calculate exactly how lazy I can be and then I be that lazy. Of course, for something like qualifying exams I recognize I would not be able to do that and would take more time.
I also enjoy smoking weed, and I am a daily smoker. I feel like I have a different view than other people in this field traditionally: I'd rather just chill, hang out with my friends, and enjoy life. However, this is not to say that I have no interest in statistics. I have an enormous appreciation for the elegance of statistical theory and I've done a lot of interdisciplinary research using applications of statistics. I love doing research thus far and always felt motivated to work on projects etc. and in fact we have a paper accepted at a conference and my PI has found funding to pay me this summer to hopefully push out one or two more papers. I go out of my way to participate in research and for the last year I've been working in two different groups at once. I just really am quite lazy with school and I see the point of it but it is simply easier and more efficient for me to read out of the textbook, especially since this field is a mathematical one.
Based on my context, I had two questions:
(1) What happens to lazy statistics PhD students like me?
(2) So far in my undergraduate curriculum we have only been learning theories and concepts that have already been developed, and not developing anything new. Probability theory classes and real analysis were probably the most difficult parts, but it was not doing anything novel. The rest of the stats electives like sampling/experimental design/regression methods at the level of the courses taught were pretty much just trivial plug-and-chug type material. Since PhD students would be creating novel ideas in statistics (maybe like new methods is what stands out to me), how do they make this jump from "plug-and-chug" to doing this type of original work? How well-defined are research problems in statistics (in the sense that there are straightforward paths to approach well-known problems vs. the necessity of having some Einstein idea and needing that fundamental creativity to even generate a research question)? Of course this depends on subfield, but I am asking more generally.