There are few things as exhilarating as when you decide to begin to work on something new. The raw energy and emotion that flood your mind and body is a mighty force that will drive you to start working at full speed. Whether you're starting a new hobby, building a side project, or decided to kick-start a new exercise routine to get in shape, there will be a fire burning in you to get yourself moving forward.
Doing something new will always reinvigorate you, which is why so many people often look to find new avenues to spend their time. That's why there's so much momentum in the beginning stages of starting. It's a good thing because that initial burst of strength is critical to overcoming the inertia of trying to get something off the ground.
However, there will come a time where that enthusiasm will wane, and that energy that was pushing you forward will begin to dissipate. You'll find what was once comfortable and enjoyable just a few days or weeks ago becoming a dull, lifeless chore that you don't want to do. Despite your best intentions, you'll work less and less, and before you know it, you stall entirely with your new venture.
If I were to provide a guess, I would say that this slow descent from seemingly infinite energy to no desire is what kills most new initiatives for people. Looking back at all the projects I started but never finished, this would be my personal experience. The substantial amount of directories I have in my main projects folder on my computer are signs of new ideas and projects that were started with high hopes and ended in a graveyard of neglection.
Sadly, it's common for people to take on new endeavors and have them fade away into obscurity. It happens with long-term goals, where studies show that over 90% of people don't achieve their New Year's goals. Something similar happens with day-to-day tasks, with 89 percent of professionals never regularly finishing their to-do lists. Even playing video games, which is not even a difficult chore for the most part, has a significant chunk of gamers never playing a game to its completion.
Nowadays, it's far too easy to quit something that's not going as well as you hoped. There are so many avenues to choose from to find something new instantly to replace whatever you were doing before. Every day we're bombarded with so much information that, unless you learn to filter what comes your way, can easily sway you to think that something new is better, or even that what you're doing now is terrible and you should quit as soon as possible despite any evidence.
Another common mistake made is relying on energy and enthusiasm alone. As mentioned earlier, that will help you get started and moving forward. But no long-term task can be sustained on personal power alone. There will always be a point where you'll merely be bored out of your mind. Feeling unchallenged while doing the same thing over and over again will make you lose that spark that was guiding you through the process.
Because of these factors, new projects are often not given the time needed to mature enough because we get bored of them. Once this weariness kicks in, there will be a million other things you want to do. In other words, procrastination will rear its ugly head. That's why to find success, you need to get comfortable with the idea of boredom.
Real success comes when you get comfortable with the mundane repetition of putting in the work every single day. The most successful people in the world are where they at today because they spent an inordinate amount of time working on the things they were passionate about, regardless of their mood. There must have been periods of time where the thought of another day of toiling away was nauseating, but they still went through it. Without slogging away through the less-sexy parts of the work, I guarantee they wouldn't have been as successful as they are now.
Author James Clear had an anecdote about meeting a successful trainer. This coach had trained top-ranked athletes and Olympians, so he has an up-close view of what makes someone successful. When James Clear asked what's the difference between the top athletes in the world compared to the rest, the coach mentioned "At some point, it comes down to who can handle the boredom of training every day and doing the same lifts over and over and over again." Of course, other factors such as talent even luck come into play. But despite having the best genes and a ton of lucky breaks come your way, you won't get far if you don't put in the work day in and day out.
Most people will tell you that as long as you have a strong enough reason as to why you're taking on something new, you will be able to see a goal through to its completion. While there is some truth to that, having a solid "why" is often not enough. When our brains are under-stimulated during the periods of unexciting work, it will tempt you to do something else - anything else - to get out of that state of mind.
Here are a few tactics you can employ to battle through those monotonous periods of work:
- Make up a challenge to yourself: If you're doing something for the 100th time, spice things up by adding some artificial difficulty to vary your work while getting the same result. For example, if you have to write five pages of sales copy and it usually takes you five hours to do, challenge yourself to finish the whole thing in four hours. You can even find something smaller like using ten words you would not usually use in your writing. As long as it gives a bit of variety to your performance, you won't feel like it's the same thing over and over again.
- Do the same thing at the same time every day: By setting time to do a repetitive task at the same time every single day you're able to, your brain will offer less resistance to completing your mission. If you set an hour every morning at 8:00 AM to work on your goals, you'll find yourself in a few short days or weeks automatically putting in the work at that same time out of pure habit. Having a set schedule will prime your mind and body to do the job instead of relying on sheer willpower or inspiration, both which are unsustainable.
- Make it hurt when you don't do the work: Tony Robbins has mentioned that one of the ways to tap into your power is by understanding how pleasure and pain work in your life. By default, most people seek as much pleasure as possible while avoiding pain at all costs. Using this concept, one way to make sure that you will make yourself do the tedious work is to find ways to ensure "pain" if you don't succeed in your tasks. For example, if you know someone will give you a tough time if you don't do what you say you will, then you should let them know what you're doing and ask them to check in with you at a predetermined time. There are also websites like stickK where you can set lose money if you don't follow through on your commitments. The concept behind these ideas is that if there's enough pain to be had by not doing your work, you'll find ways to make it happen.
Small steps for your Practical Good
If you're figuring out whether boredom is one of the issues causing you to have a stack of incomplete goals and dreams, there are a few ways to deal with it for your current objectives:
- Determine if what you're putting off is because of boredom or a more profound issue: Although this article talks mostly about how apathy prevents you from completing something, it very well might be that you have something other than boredom holding you back. Dig deep into your mind by taking a few minutes by yourself to think about the reasons for wanting to achieve your current intentions and if you're willing to put up the necessary resources to accomplish them. Doing this thinking is essential early in the process, because if you find that reasons to not do something, you'll save yourself a lot of time and frustration in the future.
- Be creative and find new ways to spice up your daily work: Doing the same thing day in and day out can be a grind, and can quickly put you off of moving forward. Before this happens, find ways to do the work you have to complete more interesting by setting challenges or being creative in how to achieve them. Not only will it make the task less annoying, but the process is also fun and will re-energize you during the times you need it the most.
- Go F*cking Do It: Sometimes you'll need external motives to get you to do the work you continue to put off. The aptly named site Go F*ucking Do It allows you to enter a goal you want to complete, set a deadline for it, let an accountability partner know, and wager real money on whether you finish it or not. If you place a period and your partner sees you didn't do it, your money will be gone. No one wants to lose money, so it's a surprising motivator for getting things done on time.