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How Do I Learn To Love Boredom?

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Andreas

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Jul 22, 2011
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Let me preface this by saying that I don't want to live a life full of boredom. I do want to feel excitement and all those other positive emotions, but I realized that in order for me to truly be fulfilled I need to be comfortable with boredom. If I spend a few days or weeks feeling excited or kicking my senses to overdrive, then I feel very tired and every little thing that is supposed to give me a small dose of joy does not do that unless I abstain from emotionally draining activities like video games, t.v shows, junk food, etc.

Lately, I started my own online business and I was working at it consistently for a few months and suddenly I stopped working on it for trivial reasons. I had a few bad days here and there, but it was no excuse to halt my progress. That being said, during the last few weeks I have been abstaining from the above vices and started making little productivity tweaks to get into a state of focus on what is important to me.

Example: I don't browse Youtube as soon as I come from work. I only eat 2-3 meals a day in an 8 hour feeding window and fast for the rest because that keeps me energized. I don't touch any video games or eat junk food unless I plan that in advance. That's all fine and great. I'm getting rid of the anchors that slow down my progress, but what I find difficult to accept is the belief that I don't have to feel like doing something in order to do it. I read it and heard it from multiple different sources and the argument makes perfect sense to me. It's not that external rewards or good feelings don't help the process go smoother, but for the most part, I have to first take action and then get into what I'm doing.

I've done it before, I know it's good for me and it makes perfect sense in every logical way, but I have not yet integrated that belief into my mind.

How can I embrace the boredom that comes from executing all the tasks necessary to succeed?

I apologize if I'm beating a dead horse here, but I feel like I'm at a tipping point in my life. I feel all these changes happening just by altering a few activities in my life is giving me more confidence and I want to take it to the next level.
 

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WhoDatBoy

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Hey Andreas, I can relate to your struggle. I'll just share some advice based on my own experiences, feel free to do whatever you want with it.

First of all I think it's very important to have some hobbies that can re-energize you. If I focus too much on being as productive as possible, I often end up working more hours but I don't necessarily get more things done. Think of some things that really energize you and realize that they can actually make you more productive in the hours that you do spend working on your business for example. For me it's very important to find a balance, because isolating myself to put in more hours mostly does not give me the results I want. In the end, I am working on myself to create a better life for me and those around me. It would be odd to neglect the small things that energize me, because that's exactly what I want more of.

I think it's also a matter of getting used to it. Boredom can just be a part of the process; it's really not as glamorous as I often imagine it and as it's often portrayed in the media. (Think of "Events vs. Process" from Unscripted.) That is as long as you are doing that at least interests you at some level. If that's not the case it will be very hard to get used to it, seeing as it can be much harder to get into the "flow".

Have you tried meditation? For me it really helps in calming my mind. I get bored pretty quickly when I have a deep understanding of how something works. When I meditate daily, I can accept the daily process much better and I'm not always looking for something to excite my brain. The grass is always greener on the other side.

Now that I'm thinking about it, one of the things that helped me even more than meditation in increasing my focus was quitting social media. I think it really changes your brain, so that you're not always looking for something more exciting when you're trying to be productive.
 

Ronak

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I do want to feel excitement and all those other positive emotions

This is natural. Our subconscious craves this feeling.

But what is causing you boredom?
I had a few bad days here and there

Lack of immediate results/gratification!

Your subconscious wants to feel good by seeing immediate results. When it doesn't get it, it starts fighting back and sabotages further activity, causing you to feel bored. All the logic and convincing in the world has not changed the fact. You understand it intellectually, but not at the deeper subconscious level, hence nothing changes.

belief that I don't have to feel like doing something in order to do it.

You can try to change that belief, which is difficult.


I have not yet integrated that belief into my mind.

But there's a hint in your response:

I feel all these changes happening just by altering a few activities in my life is giving me more confidence

Why? Because you are seeing results.

So, in summary, when you see results, there is no boredom. When there are no results, you get boredom.

Your feeling is tied to an outcome that you cannot control, leaving you at the whims of chance. But what if you changed the variable to something that you CAN control?

What is that? Your input.

If you know you have to, for example, make 100 calls over the next month to hit your milestone, split that up into 25 calls per week or 5 calls a day.

Make your 5 calls every day, and at the end of the day, look for gratification in the fact that you hit your daily goal, or maybe even exceeded it. Stop measuring achievement on whether those calls were "successful" or not. The law of numbers will naturally play out, and you will adjust and improve your process as you learn. The results will take care of themselves, but you have no control over whether the result will come from call 1 or call 100. If you never get to call 100 because you gave up, you will be stuck in a perpetual rut.

Find a system that makes you feel good -- whether it's checking stuff off at day end, crossing off a list, or telling yourself at the end of the day that you achieved what you set out to do, and over time, that will become your new metric. Your subconscious will start getting the "food" it needs in the form of daily achievement, and you will build momentum.
 

DumplingEveryDay

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Let me preface this by saying that I don't want to live a life full of boredom. I do want to feel excitement and all those other positive emotions, but I realized that in order for me to truly be fulfilled I need to be comfortable with boredom. If I spend a few days or weeks feeling excited or kicking my senses to overdrive, then I feel very tired and every little thing that is supposed to give me a small dose of joy does not do that unless I abstain from emotionally draining activities like video games, t.v shows, junk food, etc.

Lately, I started my own online business and I was working at it consistently for a few months and suddenly I stopped working on it for trivial reasons. I had a few bad days here and there, but it was no excuse to halt my progress. That being said, during the last few weeks I have been abstaining from the above vices and started making little productivity tweaks to get into a state of focus on what is important to me.

Example: I don't browse Youtube as soon as I come from work. I only eat 2-3 meals a day in an 8 hour feeding window and fast for the rest because that keeps me energized. I don't touch any video games or eat junk food unless I plan that in advance. That's all fine and great. I'm getting rid of the anchors that slow down my progress, but what I find difficult to accept is the belief that I don't have to feel like doing something in order to do it. I read it and heard it from multiple different sources and the argument makes perfect sense to me. It's not that external rewards or good feelings don't help the process go smoother, but for the most part, I have to first take action and then get into what I'm doing.

I've done it before, I know it's good for me and it makes perfect sense in every logical way, but I have not yet integrated that belief into my mind.

How can I embrace the boredom that comes from executing all the tasks necessary to succeed?

I apologize if I'm beating a dead horse here, but I feel like I'm at a tipping point in my life. I feel all these changes happening just by altering a few activities in my life is giving me more confidence and I want to take it to the next level.
Hey Andreas,
Your question is very insightful, and I thought about it a lot when I read it in unscripted. In the section about passion, MJ DeMarco said, "Don't be passionate about what needs to be done; be passionate about what you WILL BECOME." Realizing this opened many doors for me that I intentionally kept closed just because it wasn't "comfortable", or I thought it was "boring."

I don't think you need to "embrace boredom" but accept its part of the process and the price/sacrifice you pay for the Fastlane lifestyle. There is a reason most supposed "entrepreneurs" never succeed. They are not willing to sacrifice and suffer a little.

You don't need to like what you do or embrace boredom but love and want what you will become. Since elementary school, I have lied about who I am, to what I own, to what I've experienced. I am a liar, I am weak, and I don't have any pride in being me. But I know that if I do what needs to get done, whether I like doing it or not, I will BECOME someone I am proud of being. I constantly make sure I am telling the truth and now when I say something, I automatically ask myself, “is that the truth?”

It’s very uncomfortable and I know my life would be much easier if I lied but I wouldn’t love who I become.

Some Practical Advice:

Boredom is an emotion, and emotions have a lot of power in how we act, but if we become aware of our emotions, they LOSE their control over us. Therefore, if you want to control your boredom you need to become aware of it. You might be asking, "how do I develop or increase my self-awareness? ". It's simple and something you have probably tried before, Meditation. Meditation is a systematic way to develop self-awareness. It's important to understand how meditation works to gain benefits so do a little research.

Here are two scenarios:
Scenario 1:
  • You had a rough day at work, but you find some willpower to start working on your online business.
  • Five minutes go by and your mind starts drifting
  • Then you get a YouTube notification on your phone and you tell yourself, "let me check for just five minutes." and end up binging the entire night

Scenario 2:
  • You had a rough day at work but, you find some willpower to start working on your online business.
  • Five minutes go by and exactly when your mind starts drifting you notice it and bring your attention back to your work
  • You get an hour of productive work

Key points:
• You don’t have to love what you do but who you become
• develop self-awareness to control emotion​
 

Andreas

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Jul 22, 2011
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Thank you for the advice.

Just to clarify a few things. For me boredom does not necessarily mean hating the process, but rather something that is completely devoid of excitement. Example: I hate setting up payment methods and every time I see a bank statement or government papers I get sick to my stomach (I don't know why), but I did it and I spend several hours glued to my screen in order to do that. Product listing on the other hand is something I will have to do repeatedly at the beginning and I don't hate or love it.

It's a boring task and this is how the majority of the work feels and I want to be as okay with it as I am when I do other boring tasks like brushing my teeth, showering (unless it's cold), making healthy cake recipes, etc.

Find a system that makes you feel good -- whether it's checking stuff off at day end, crossing off a list, or telling yourself at the end of the day that you achieved what you set out to do, and over time, that will become your new metric.

I just started doing that a few days ago. I have an 'Achieved list' next to my goals and to do list and every night I list everything I accomplish, even if I did not keep all the promises to myself. So far that is the only way to intrinsically motivate myself and time will tell if it works.

Stop measuring achievement on whether those calls were "successful" or not.
Probably one of the biggest hurdles to overcome right now. Make the task itself the reward is more important and the sooner I get that belief into my system the better for me.

Have you tried meditation? For me it really helps in calming my mind. I get bored pretty quickly when I have a deep understanding of how something works.
Right now I meditate for 10 minutes a day. I do a sitting or cross legged meditation to strengthen my spine so I can do longer sessions. I do some breathing exercises to calm or energize myself sometimes. Working on a P.C is a bit of an emotional roller coaster for me when it comes to work. I will either stress myself into d=accomplishing what I want or be so relaxed that I distract myself too much so managing energy levels through breath is vital for me.
 

BizyDad

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Boredom used to be an excuse for me to go do unproductive things. Grab a snack, go for a walk, play a video game, just check Facebook real quick.

I've learned that I tend to get bored when the activity I'm doing is mindless.

Now I see boredom as a worthy adversary. Someone I spar against. Someone who is relentless and never gives up. Someone who wants me to go beyond productive.

So when boredom creeps up, I remember that the activity I'm doing is mindless, so I try to bring some mindfulness to the moment. I'll ask myself things like, is this really the best use of my time? Am I giving it my best? If I'm going to let boredom distract me from this, is there some higher value activity I could be doing? Should I be hiring someone to do this activity?

That last one has been really interesting to me. Because I've learned there are people who love doing the kind of work that I find mindless. And I've learned that those people often do not like doing the kinds of things that I love doing, strategy sessions, planning, etc. They just want someone to tell them what to do, tell them how to do it, and tell them they did a good job after they did it.

So now boredom is something that makes me better. Because it's either a trigger for me to refocus on what I'm doing, or find a better way to get it done.

Okay, truth be told, 25% of the time, boredom wins and I go grab a snack or go for a walk. But at least now these are conscious decisions and not Pavlovian reactions, and I get back to work pretty quick.

I'd suggest reading The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.
 

brian_petersen

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Thank you Andreas for starting this conversation. I feel like I've gained a lot from reading over everyone's suggestions and insights. I'm going to reply to a few previous posts -- hopefully some of my commentary can help.

Let me preface this by saying that I don't want to live a life full of boredom. I do want to feel excitement and all those other positive emotions, but I realized that in order for me to truly be fulfilled I need to be comfortable with boredom. If I spend a few days or weeks feeling excited or kicking my senses to overdrive, then I feel very tired and every little thing that is supposed to give me a small dose of joy does not do that unless I abstain from emotionally draining activities like video games, t.v shows, junk food, etc.

I resonate with this so strongly. I've noticed that I go through seasons of emotions. Generally I can motivate myself to work, go to the gym, eat healthy, read books, etc. But every other week or so I slip into a state of apathy. I don't keep my apartment tidy, I skip the gym, I eat out too much, etc. To go along with what other have said, becoming aware of the slump is how I combat it. I'm not perfect at it -- but it's been a big help.

I'd suggest reading The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.

I was just about to recommend this book. It's an excellent and quick read.

So, in summary, when you see results, there is no boredom. When there are no results, you get boredom.

Your feeling is tied to an outcome that you cannot control, leaving you at the whims of chance. But what if you changed the variable to something that you CAN control?

What is that? Your input.

Thank you for this insight. MJ talks about this extensively -- focus on what you can control. Setting goals on your input helps motivate you for further action, which is key to long term success.

Meditation is a systematic way to develop self-awareness. It's important to understand how meditation works to gain benefits so do a little research.

I can second this. I haven't focused so much on the meditation part, but becoming more self-aware through journaling has helped me tremendously. I'd like to try a few meditation sessions myself.
 

Andreas

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Jul 22, 2011
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A little encouragement once in a while helps a lot. Maybe having an accountability partner would be a luxury, but a nice arrangement nevertheless, because sometimes I am too hard on myself and I just need someone to say to me 'Relax, get your thoughts in order and keep going'. One thing I have to keep reminding myself is to have patience. Nothing good ever came out of rashness for me.
 

ChrisGav

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I’m going to make it really simple. This changed my life.
Everyday, I want you to do the small things you don’t want to do, when you don’t want to do them.
For example: after eating and you don’t want to take your plate to the dishwasher, get up immediately and put it in the dish washer.
Start by doing this with every small thing when you don’t feel like doing it. Before you know it, it’ll be habitual to do the things you need to do even if you don’t feel like doing them. The resistance you feel to doing them will slowly dissolve as you train this muscle more and more.
 

ygtrhos

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in order for me to truly be fulfilled I need to be comfortable with boredom.

I think you have hinted a solution: you have to be comfortable with boredom. Loving boredom is not attainable because that is not humane.

Being comfortable with boredom has a name: patience.

So when you feel bored, do you resist boredom? Do you want to be somewhere else?

Just accept the moment so, as it is. As if you wanted the moment to be so.

Easy but not simple. :)
 

axeman

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In a book Deep Work by Cal Newport, there is a chapter about "Embrace Boredom". You may find it useful. Great book!
 

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