Motivation

Boredom is the One Thing Standing Between You and Your Ultimate Self

This curated column is authored by Moneer Rifai, Support Engineer, MetaCommunications

There is a famous quote by George Addair that reads: “Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear”. I would like to challenge that notion and tell you this instead: everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of boredom. Yes, boredom, and not fear.

The George Addair quote was later popularized by Jack Canfield and it became a popular mantra for many who were held back by their fear. The thinking was: if you are afraid of something, then you have to conquer it to get where you want to be in life. Fortunately for us, that thinking no longer applies today.

Let me explain.

It used to be the case that making a change in your life had major consequences.

  • Thinking of quitting your secure job to explore another career? You might face long-term (or permanent) unemployment
  • Thinking of starting your dream business? You need large capital in advance and you could lose it all if your business fails
  • Going back to school? You have to put every other aspect of your life on-hold

That is no longer the case. In this age of abundance and access to information, those drastic consequences are almost obsolete. Now, you can start a side-hustle with almost $0 cost while keeping your day job, you could also get excellent education online (often for free) or part-time without putting your life on hold, and switching careers has never been more feasible. Many of the fears that shaped the lives and careers of the Baby Boomers are no longer relevant today.


How Boredom is Holding You Back

We are living in a time that is unique in so many ways, but one disadvantageous aspect of our time is the amount of stimulation we are being subjected to on a daily basis. The more stimulation we are exposed to, the more our brains crave it (due to the release of dopamine) and the more aversion our brains have to less stimulating activities.

Unfortunately for us, almost any positive change requires being comfortable with boredom.

How many times have you been excited to start down a new path, only to give up soon after? Maybe you started learning a new skill, or started working on improving your fitness, or made the decision to switch careers and started taking online classes, only to quit a couple of weeks later?

If this sounds familiar, then rest assured, you are not alone. There are ways to conquer your boredom.


Conquering Boredom: 4 Simple Tricks

1. Ditch the Hyped Imagery

Everything seems to be overhyped these days. Let’s look at a popular example: being a software developer.

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A quick Google Images search will convince you that being a software developer is nothing less than pure bliss. Look at all these smart people sitting in this hip downtown office, exposed brick walls and all, typing away on their Macbooks as they sip on their lattés! You can almost see their creative ideas in these images. Becoming a software developer is surely as fun and magical.

The reality is a little different. Learning how to become a developer could be fun but it could also be very frustrating and boring. Most people start with a lot of enthusiasm but after a few days of fighting with CSS properties or trying to understand the JavaScript keyword this, most people give up.

The same can be said for almost any other path you want to follow. Understanding the difference between the popular image of what entrepreneurship or management or academia (or: insert your dream vision of your future here) looks like as opposed to what actually getting there entails, is crucial.

2. Have Realistic Expectations

Going back to the software developer example, it is important to have the correct expectations of what it takes to get there. Getting there takes a long time, and is fraught with boring tutorials and reading about abstract ideas. Will you be able to handle the boredom? Will you be able to slog through the dry code and technical documentation?

Boredom is inevitable on your path to success. Can you embrace it?

You dream of being an entrepreneur? Then be ready to spend day after day managing the most minute and annoying aspects of your business. Are you ready to deal with difficult vendors and employees? Are you going to put up with looking at spreadsheet after spreadsheet of expenses, balances and orders?

You want to go back to graduate school? Then you’d better love reading dry and arcane books that no one has ever heard of. You’d better love writing about topics that don’t interest you in the least, and that can only be appreciated by a handful of people.

You dream of running a marathon? The image of you crossing the finish line with your fists in the air makes you want to put on your running shoes right now? Well I hope you like spending hours every week training and going on long lonely runs, as you keep listening to the same music and seeing the same scenery.

Once you understand the minutiae entailed in pursuing your dreams, getting there will be much easier.

3. Chunk Your Journey Down to Smaller Steps

One reason people often fail at achieving their goals is this thought: “I am bored out of my mind already, I cannot do this for X length of time”.

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For example, if your goal is to learn software development and you know that it might take you a year of learning but you are bored in the first week, then you might be inclined to call it quits.

The idea here is to chunk your big goal into smaller achievable steps and start making small wins.

Instead of conquering software development, think about the smaller subset of web development, and specifically front-end development, and more specifically HTML and CSS to begin with. Master this first, and then you can move on. This is a much more realistic goal to accomplish, and doing so will motivate you to keep going.

If your goal is to complete a marathon, think about completing a 5k first, then a 10k, then a half marathon.

“Gamify” your goal. By turning your goal into a game with levels to complete, it becomes more enjoyable and you are more likely to stick with it. That is why popular programs like FreeCodeCamp and Codecademy break up the curriculum into individual mini lessons and even show you your streak, which encourages learners to keep up their learning streak.

4. Be Part of a Community

Let’s face it: the only people who can understand the struggle you are going through are you, and others on the same path as you. You might have the most amazing and supportive spouse or friend, but that does not mean that they will be able to relate to your struggle and boredom. Those in the same boat as you will be able to share experiences and provide support in practical ways that well-meaning family and friends cannot.

Chances are that no matter what your goal is, there are others out there pursuing the same (or similar) goal. Find that community and get involved. Communities built around a common personal journey are often some of the best ways to find support and make meaningful friendships. This might be a local group that meets in person (sites like meetup.com or Facebook are a good place to start) or an online group. Some places to find communities online are Facebook, Reddit, Slack, and various discussion forums and message boards.

Do not let boredom and the lack of stimulation stop you from achieving your ultimate self. Realize that accomplishing that dream of yours, whatever it might be, requires that you conquer not only your fear, but also your boredom, loneliness and frustration.


Disclaimer: This is a curated post. The statements, opinions and data contained in these publications are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of iamwire or its editor(s). The article in its original form was published by the author here.


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