Most of us set off on the pursuit of our goals with lot of enthusiasm, excited to work on them and they seem to be hardly ever boring when they are new. But we all experience times where that enthusiasm wears off and reach a point where we no longer feel inspired by the very goals we have set for ourselves. This is something with which we can all relate to a lot more now as the pandemic stretches on with many restrictions in place and with little to do. Not being able to do what you want, when you want is often a perfect recipe for boredom and even the goals that once inspired you now leave you with little motivation.
Even though boredom and feelings of weariness we experience these days are pandemic-induced, boredom need not be always the result of idleness or because there is little or nothing to do. The truth is that boredom can get to anyone even those who are always actively involved in their work. No matter age or gender, there are times where we all feel less enthusiastic at some point in pursuit of our goals where we feel stuck between wanting to do something and not being able to find something motivating to do. You then avoid or procrastinate working on the goals you have set whether that’s your most cherished goal, work, or a hobby.
So, what exactly is boredom?
Boredom is an emotional state of being disinterested. According to science, our brain produces dopamine, a chemical messenger that triggers responses whenever we experience a new and exciting situation. When we engage ourselves in continuous repetition of a certain activity, there is less dopamine and as a result, we start craving for a heightened sense of excitement, but struggle to provide it with our present activities. That’s where the feeling of boredom normally unfold where we are no longer stimulated by the known activities and struggle to find new alternatives.
According to research, apparently, there isn’t one way to be bored, there are five types of boredom. Identifying which type of boredom you feel, you can work towards better responding to it.
- Indifferent boredom. The indifferently bored are calm and withdrawn. They feel relaxed and fatigued-but-cheerful.
- Calibrating boredom refers to wandering thoughts, want to do something, but they don’t know what to do. They aren’t searching for alternatives to the boredom either.
- Searching boredom is a sense of unpleasant restlessness where one is really fed up with being bored. They search for ways to alleviate their boredom by turning to hobbies, learning or other interests.
- Reactant boredom is the desire to escape boring situations and avoid those responsible for it. This is commonly experienced at work or in academia.
- Apathetic boredom is a more deeper and more negative state of mind with no emotions at all. This type is commonly felt where one has relatively little control over their own situation.
What causes boredom
As we are living in the age of information, many of us have grown dependent on technology and become so used to constantly doing something. The state of not doing something or constant need of something new makes us vulnerable to boredom. Here are some more reasons as to why we get bored with our goals.
- Procrastination. At times, most of us falsely assume that we are bored, when in reality, we are simply procrastinating on our goals. This might be when we don’t find a task compelling enough to engage ourselves in.
- Lack of energy/direction/focus. Imbalanced energy levels, or lack of focus or direction can be one of the main reason for boredom. Sometimes, you might be mentally fatigued and physically not tired and vice versa.
- Lack of motivation. When you are stuck in monotonous repetitive cycle of tasks, activities or routines, boredom is simply because of lack of mental stimulation or motivation.
- Pattern interruption. Another reason of boredom is when your regular patterns or schedule is suddenly changed.
- Becoming too attached to your performance. When you don’t achieve your earlier milestones, you also become weighted down or uninspired.
- Unrealistic goals. Your goals might have become irrelevant as your priorities or interests have changed and you are no longer inspired by your set goals.
Not all the boredom you feel is bad
Boredom need not always be a negative or limiting emotion. No doubt that unresolved issues of boredom often lead to anxiety, depression and unproductive or unhelpful behaviours and often interfere with our ability to do our immediate tasks, but it can also push you towards positive behaviours.
It can also serve you as a sign to renew and rediscover your goals because your old, previous goals are no longer beneficial. It also helps you to remove non-essentials, change your pace, find new direction, improve your creativity and focus. It can be an opportunity for introspection and self-awareness. It is how we respond that makes all the difference.
How to get back on track when you are bored with your goals
Whether your goals revolve around your finance, career, relationship, health or business or to improve any other area of life, lack of enthusiasm for extended periods of time can lead to unproductive and risk-taking behaviours. Your level of enthusiasm always plays an important role in getting your goals to fruition. Here are some strategies to get back on track when you get bored with your goals.
Identify your triggers for boredom
It is important to reason why exactly you are feeling bored. In reality there could be more than one reason why you are uninspired to work on your goals. Knowing what to do when you are bored is less about looking toward a list of ideas for inspiration and more about getting down to root cause of it. Think of what exactly is triggering your boredom.
Ask yourself, Am I focusing too much on final outcome rather than short-term goals? Am I lacking proper perspective/focus/direction? Is it my daily routine /to-do lists getting too repetitive? Or Am I missing my bigger vision? Or Am I simply procrastinating? Having a clear understanding of what is the specific reason for your boredom will help you identify the trigger and formulate a constructive approach to avoid it in the future.
Focus on the process
One way to combat the boredom is to focus on the process itself. We often underestimate the power of momentum and instead get preoccupied with doing the right thing that prevents us from even getting started. Focusing purely on the final outcome will leave you overwhelmed, stressed and frustrated. Once you have goal in mind, whether big or small try to focus on the process of doing it.
If it’s a bigger goal, focus on one step at a time and what to do in present by focusing on the process. Plan effectively, start working on them to follow through the process. Set something up to make yourself accountable if you find it hard to work on them.
Ask yourself, Why is completing this task important to me? How will I benefit from this in long-term? What losses I incur if I don’t do it? What is the next important thing must I accomplish? The more you explore the pros and cons of not doing something, the more possibilities you can come up with to engage in the process of achieving your goals.
We are the sum of our daily habits. Ou habits determine how actively we pursue something. Even though to-do lists and developing rituals might sound like a boring thing to do, but they do work. Create a to-do list of things that you believe you should do or any tasks you need to complete and make it a daily ritual.
If you find yourself procrastinating on the most important tasks on your to-do lists, replace it with other work that doesn’t need to be worked on at the moment, but that does need to get done. If you still find yourself procrastinating or feel stuck doing highly repetitive work, try and find ways to make your tasks more fun, engaging and mentally stimulating.
Ask yourself, How can I make this task more interesting and creative? What if I turned this task into a problem that need to be solved? What is the very next goal I can work on that needs to get done? Is the task challenging enough? While it is preferable to overcome procrastination of your most important work, working on the next important thing can help you not to let procrastination become a habit.
Related read: Overcome your habit of procrastination
Readjust your focus
Boredom is an indicator that your goals aren’t passionate enough. Those who are productive are rarely bored because they are working towards a fulfilling purpose. Finding out why you do what you do can help you readjust your focus. Identify your purpose that can get you in touch with what you are truly passionate about. Making a mental picture of where you want to be can help you ‘zone-in’ your focus.
Ask yourself, What inspires me the most? What is my purpose? What activities allow me to be creative? What am I currently focusing on that is affecting my enthusiasm? How can I regain my focus? Establishing a set of concrete goals based on your passions and purpose can prevent you from drifting you off course.
Renew your goals
The very reason why you set your goals is to reach your desired outcome. Focusing on your ultimate goals or objectives could motivate you to try harder. Yet, if your daily goals are making you bored, then either you lost touch with your bigger vision or your end goals aren’t that inspiring you to work towards. If you find your goals aren’t inspiring enough and are weighing you down, that means that goal isn’t going to work. If you are negatively pressured, chances are you will avoid working on that particular task after a period of time. Review your goals and clear out all your past goals and set new ones or reconnect with your original goals or vision.
Ask yourself, what new goals I can set for myself that inspire me the most? What am I trying to achieve? Is what I am trying to do is what I truly want? What is my next action? Once you know what to achieve, you begin to be in the zone and will do your task automatically. Rediscover goals that positively influence and are challenging enough to work on them.
Identify your sources of motivation
Identify your sources of motivation or factors that influence your enthusiasm for pursuing what you want. For instance, is it a person or the people you admire, or are you driven by your needs or by external rewards. Sometimes, boredom can be because the task is either too easy for you or difficult. If it is too easy, break away from boring old routines and find ways to make the task more challenging that match your current abilities. Similarly, if you find a task boring because it is difficult, start working on tasks with optimal difficulty and add incremental challenges.
Ask yourself, Am I motivated by a challenge in a particular task? Am I more driven by immediate rewards or long-term outcomes? Is my source of motivation-extrinsic, people, rewards, fame or recognition or is it intrinsic, passion, meaning or purpose? Finding your source of motivation helps you maintain your goal-oriented behaviours.
Related read: How to build lasting motivation
Manage your stress
Stress can be another factor that can often make you disinterested in your goals. Being exposed to stress over long periods of time without proper coping mechanisms can result in physical and mental exhaustion that eventually lead to energy imbalance. Sometimes stress is the result of lack of direction.
Multitasking also leads to stress and inefficiency. Instead mono-tasking helps you overcome boredom as more time and thoughtful effort you put into something, the more you enjoy and achieve your flow state. Check your present direction with what you truly want. This can help you distinguish between those things that dissipate your energies and those that strengthen you.
Questions for self-reflection
How often do you get unmotivated to pursue goals you have set for yourself?
Are you procrastinating on your goals because of boredom?
Do the goals that once inspired you now leave you with little or no motivation?
Is your boredom is because of irrelevant or unrealistic goals you have set or is it because of monotony, laziness or lack of energy ?
Do you get bored when your routines get disturbed?
How inspiring and challenging are the goals you have set for yourself?
When you are demotivated, do you stop pursuing your goals or do you push them through?
It is normal to feel demotivated in pursuit of our goals. But if you strategise and reengage, boredom can be a motivation for setting new goals, finding alternatives to old approaches and discovering new passions and possibilities. Letting go of resistance to boredom can often give you the space you need to generate insightful ideas to make better decisions and to take purposeful action. Knowing what to do when you are uninspired by your goals is easy when you know the reasons of your boredom in pursuing them. Next time if you find yourself bored with your goals, acknowledge your boredom so you can make your boring situation into an engaging one.