(Image: Dragan)

If you’re a doer, you should be a goal-setter.

Goal-setting is an essential; it’s a must. There’s just no other way around it if you truly want to achieve what your heart desires.

Goal-setting is exciting—especially if we’re talking about personal goals. Have you ever wondered why there’s just a lot of talk about SMART Goals … why you should even care?

Yes, setting personal goals is exciting. Knowing that you can turn your life around just by sticking to goals helps you open doors and discover things really worth looking forward to.

However, let’s face it—goal-setting takes time. It may sound easy or glorious or anything that’d make you feel like you’re the undiscovered hero of the world.

But reaching your goals could take a lot of effort, grit and even sacrifice.

Just thinking about all the hassle could be disheartening … and that’s just for achieving goals. You may also have unresolved issues at the office. You may have to arrange for your wedding anniversary surprise. You may just not be in the mood, why not.

The world could be too big and busy for you, especially if you’re an advocate for taking action.

Personally, I get a bit discouraged when I fall behind schedule. A lot of lessons can be learned, but the problem is that whenever I have to do something that’s going to be pretty much the same thing all over again—a part of me gets bored.

Why wouldn’t I get bored? I’ve already done that particular task, countless times now. Even though I know I’ll finish it, it doesn’t matter—everything is just a cycle.

Association for Psychological Science talks about why we become bored:

Specifically, we’re bored when:

  • We have difficulty paying attention to the internal information (e.g., thoughts or feelings) or external information (e.g., environmental stimuli) required for participating in satisfying activity
  • We’re aware of the fact that we’re having difficulty paying attention
  • We believe that the environment is responsible for our aversive state (e.g., “this task is boring,” “there is nothing to do”).

We get bored when we’re frustrated.

You know what it’s like. You don’t want to fall in line … but you have to. You don’t want to read the whole material but it’s the only way to learn. You simply want to skip the research phase altogether.

You have the end in mind. You think you’re willing to do the work. But there are just boring stuff, and the worst part—they’re real.

Below are some backed-by-research things you need to know about boredom. Stay put, get pumped up (about boredom)!

Boredom allows for self-reflection and better (academic) performance.

A study shows that imposing a fixed and restricting schedule upon children for their responsibilities, such as homework, could make those responsibilities boring.

This is especially true if you’re living life in the fast lane. Drudgery could become a bore, because it leaves you with little, suffocating room to think.

When you feel bored, consider it a call for taking a break or absorbing things a bit slower, so you can reflect on yourself or somebody else or anything else, and take the time to assess your performance—whether academically or not.

Boredom makes you more creative.

Don’t mind doing the boring tasks, for this kind of tasks, according to this study, promotes daydreaming, and helps you generate new ideas. When your mind wanders, it simply tends to be creative. Researchers found that participants who were bored in this study outdid those who were basically not on creative tests.

You may even come up with more uses of plastic cups after copying numbers from a phonebook than if you didn’t copy at all. Odd study? Not if it delivers a point.

Do you need to squeeze those creative juices out? Bore yourself.

Boredom is not depression.

Boredom may sound like a mental issue, which is in a remote sense true, but boredom has no universally accepted definition, and a series of studies shows that boredom is not just another facet of depression. The two are quite distinct from each other.

People who are bored think the problem is their environment or world, while people who experience depression think the problem is themselves.

Think you’re depressed? Don’t jump into conclusions just yet. Maybe you’re just bored—if you find out you indeed are, celebrate … you deserve it.

Boredom: It’s either you’re not interested anymore, or you simply don’t want to leave your comfort zone.

There are two kinds of bored people.

The first is of people who are now looking for a different path, or at least a different way of doing business, that would excite them. They think they’ve already done it all. They’ve reached a point where even further developments are already boring; there’s not much of a difference anymore.

Remember I talked about doing something over and over again? It’s just like that.

The second kind is of people who simply allow fear to take control over their life. It’s before and after the spectrum of paralysis because they’re simply bored. These people suffer a common consequence: losing heart to even start.

Boredom becomes the effect of fear.

Which kind do you want to fall under? Take note, they’re completely different from each other.

Suddenly, it’s setting personal goals that’s boring already.

At this point, you know that boredom is essential even if you think it’s the universe’s fault. Boredom makes you think. It helps you decide which path may advance every aspect of your life. It could also serve as your warning device. Something’s got to be wrong when you’re bored, right?

Most important, feeling bored is alright. And you’re definitely not alone.

However, how do you deal with boredom?

Imagine you have the best job in the world, you wouldn’t trade it for anything else, you were born for it—you love it. But of course, life isn’t a fairy tale, at least for most of us. At some point, you’ll ask, “What am I doing?” or, “Is this necessary?” or, “Why the heck am I not out with friends?”

yawning girl forest

Yawning is contagious, isn’t it? (Image: Lee)

Below are seven ways you can playfully deal with boredom.

1. Pursue a hobby, or exercise.

As you get older, your interests change. Last year you might be into mountain climbing, and then today it’s playing the violin.

Hobbies benefit you twofold right off the bat. You become interested in something that might even develop into a lifelong love, and you hone the skills for it. Ah, isn’t it great to excel at something you only do as pastime, and not everybody’s able to do?


No equipment? No excuses. (Image: Victor)

When you get bored with your routine and (hopefully) have some energy left, spend some time doing what you like … other than the routine, of course. Life is damn short, after all.

Or you could set some time for exercise instead. You can work out anywhere—especially at home, even without equipment.

Exercise, as you know, is good not only for the body, but also for the mind and soul. You can always aim at toning your body up, but a nice workout will always make your mood and focus better before getting back to work.

2. Mix things up!

Are you a stickler for schedules? Like daily or hourly schedules? Cut yourself some slack.

Monotony gives boredom. Monotony’s probably what makes you feel tired in the first place.

Examine your schedule, and the time of the day you’re most productive, and not. Then try switching the blocks of activities to make it more fun.

For example, move your morning activities into the afternoon slots and vice versa. Or switch all of your Monday and Wednesday activities.

Try to be creative. You can even incorporate what you do during your break. If it helps, you can even rearrange your stuff, literally, in your work area.

Boredom could be a good thing. It could only be challenging to keep up when you’re actually in that state. Breaking the sameness in your day or week should help you carry on.

3. Be realistic.

Let’s get something straight here.

Do you expect to be the next Ayn Rand in a month even if you’ve never written and published anything? Do you think you’re going to get ripped if you show up at the gym only when you feel like it? Will you learn to get along with people if you won’t find time to get out of the house in the first place?

These sorts of attitude are precisely why you shouldn’t set goals. Remember, goals must be SMART … yes, it sounds like a fancy name, it’s famous—it works.

While R is for realistic, SMART is also a set of guidelines that qualify goals as realistic in general. SMART is, for the most part, about being realistic. R stands above the rest.

So you probably won’t turn into a nerd-level programmer from scratch in a week. It may take one year or a few.

Review your goals. If they’re not realistic enough, break them down into smaller, more achievable ones. After you break the “impossible” down to “possible,” reflect on how you feel about the calling you’re pursuing, on the whole. Remind yourself of your love and respect for it.

4. Work your mental focus.

Cognitive psychologist John Eastwood contends that all sorts of boredom result from only one thing: disruption of attention. The sources and amount of distractions don’t matter much—we get bored when our engagement on something is disrupted.

Do you think you’re the easily-bored type? Perhaps you’re just not paying attention. And there are ways to improve attention—you can sharpen your mind easier than you think.

5. Seek feedback.

Put your work out there for critique!

If we’re talking about setting personal goals and boredom here, need I say more?

Kidding aside, though, logic would show that if you’ve seriously set your personal goals (meaning they’re important to you, they make you happy, they make life more fulfilling), but you’re getting bored, receiving feedback would be a way to fix problems you didn’t know exist … and rekindle the young and strong desire you had when you started out.

This study shows that students who receive feedback do better, twice as much as those who don’t. Although seeking feedback isn’t generally easy (why would you risk being hurt?), you could prepare yourself. You could be in control even in situations like this.

If you think you’re heading towards a dead end, set your ego aside for a while and look for someone you trust to help you. Make sure that that person has been where you are. You’re going to need it … unless you’re willing to put the effort, spend time or fail—twice as much.

6. Take a day or two off … more than you would.

Remember how boredom sparks self-reflection? Well, take advantage of it.

Let your mind and body take a break from the whole routine. Stay away from monotony once in a while. And enjoy the creativity that would follow.

Monotony and creativity—they’re opposites now.

yelling man

Needs a break. Like, right now. (Image: Paul Cross)

I take two days off whenever I can. I don’t think it’s being lazy. Sometimes I don’t get to take them.

For example, aside from setting Saturdays and especially Sundays and holidays as Totally-Forget-About-Work days, I randomly pick two weekdays I just go out to meet friends or watch a movie. Sometimes weekends don’t feel like weekends at all.

It’s not always doing something else that would shoo boredom away. Sometimes rest is all you need. A break. And most of the time, it’s an underrated option.

7. Ask yourself, “What would I rather be doing and not doing?”

Here’s the thing. You might be frustrated at your current situation. You might not understand a lot of things to it. You might even blame yourself for deciding to take that solitary mission you’re on.

It could be a mess, especially if you’re just starting out.

But you’re continuously learning. Heck, I even bet you already knew the day—in which you’d feel like giving up—would come.

There are a lot to learn, but even after you learn them all, it’s still going to be about you in the end. So apply what you learn—and focus on what works for you. It’s consistently throwing all those things onto the wall, and paying attention to the few that stick.

When you feel bored pursuing your goals, ask yourself that powerful question. You’ll discover time and again—and it only gets truer—that there’s no other way around success but to learn the skills you need and follow the master plan. The plan may change a bit as you go along, but there must be a plan.

Some parts of your work may be “menial,” but they’re actually essential to reaching your goals. You may choose not to do them now, but think of the consequences of avoiding them, say, imagine a dreadful task you’d perpetually be doing if you don’t acquire the right skills.

It’s about happiness and looking for meaning. What would you rather be doing for the rest of your only one life?

Get bored.

So what do you do when setting personal goals becomes oh-so-freaking-boring?

Fall in love with boredom.

There are infinite ways to channel boredom to something else. But whatever you do, you’ll always have to face that same boredom to get things done.

It’s about learning the right skills yourself. It’s about learning them before you delegate them to others. It’s about knowing the fundamentals.

If you love what you do, you’ll realize you should also get used to the boredom that comes with it. Because you have to be comfortable feeling uncomfortable. You have to stop your emotions from deciding whether you’ll move on. You have to build momentum.

Here’s a little-known fact: Everybody will do the most difficult task when they are highly motivated. But achievers will continue anyway regardless of the situation, especially when emotional obstacles come into play, especially when they’re bored.

And that’s what separates achievers from dreamers, from everybody else.

If you think boredom keeps you from reaching your goals, it might only mean you’re avoiding the things essential to your growth and development. There could only be a lot of techniques and tactics, but ultimately you’ll have to embrace boredom.

Boredom may not be the key, but you can’t just eliminate it. Live with it. Listen to what it has to tell you. It always has something to tell you.

So enjoy the path you’ve chosen. Savor every step. Get bored to death.

“Success is steady progress toward one’s personal goals.” – Jim Rohn

Speak Your Mind

How do you deal with boredom? I’d love to hear it in the comments!

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