Use Boredom To Set New Goals

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As fall rolls in and winter comes into view, it’s possible that we might find ourselves being a little bored. Maybe the projects that once fired us up now leave us with little motivation or the increasingly dark days are making us want to hibernate. But we don’t need to panic! Instead of distracting ourselves from boredom, we can use it to our advantage. Researchers now say being bored can help with creativity and serve as a sign that it’s time to make new goals.

Why Boredom Isn’t Bad

Traditionally, we’ve been taught that boredom is a bad thing and is often the result of idleness. The truth of the matter is boredom can get the best of anyone — even go-getters who are always active and involved. Boredom is simply a sign that we need a change of pace, a new direction, a new focus. In short, boredom is a way of identifying when we need new goals because our previous goals are no longer beneficial.

Research has found that boredom is a springboard for creativity. Two test groups were tasked with coming up with ways to use a polystyrene foam cup. One group was told to go right into the task, while the other group was told they first had to copy numbers from the phone book for fifteen minutes. The phone book group was thoroughly bored before moving on to the polystyrene cup. Interestingly, those bored participants came up with more ways to use the cup than the non-bored group.

Boredom can also help to filter out the non-essentials in our lives. It’s an indicator of the things that we aren’t gaining anything from and things that shouldn’t be a high priority for us. It’s our brain’s way of telling us there’s nothing useful to be learned from a person, place, or experience.

How To Get Reengaged If You're Bored

Boredom can be a slippery slope. If we let it go on for extended periods of time, it can lead to adverse effects like depression and anxiety. But if we catch it early on and strategically reengage, boredom can be a motivator for the pursuit of new goals or experiences. It can help us achieve goals that we might have missed if we hadn’t reengaged using the three steps below:

1. Acknowledge The Boredom: Don’t Fight It Or Ignore It

Our brains want to find relief from boredom, that much is a known. Instead of pushing it aside, ignoring it, or trying to fight through the boredom, we should acknowledge what we’re feeling so we can formulate a constructive response. If we consider what exactly is causing us boredom, we can identify the trigger and avoid it in the future.

2. Give Yourself An Opportunity To Daydream

Instead of immediately throwing finding a task to complete or move to make when we are bored, it’s important we take our time to explore our boredom. In other words, daydreaming is good for us!

According to a follow-up study, the freedom to contemplate during boredom is when creativity can shine its brightest. One group was given the task of writing out numbers from the phone book while the other group simply had to read the phone book for fifteen minutes. The passive activity of reading provided more potential for daydreaming and that group was ultimately more creative. By taking the time to daydream, we can come up with creative solutions for our boredom and consider ideas that might have been overlooked had we not been daydreaming.

3. Set Goals That Ignite Your Passion

Since boredom is an indicator that our goals aren’t giving us a return on investment, it’s time to focus on the things that we’re truly passionate about. This is where we find purpose — the big picture of what matters most to us. Our purpose will serve as a driving force that shapes priorities and goals.

Like Gary and Jay say in The ONE Thing, living with purpose leads to living by priority and in turn living for productivity. If you’re bored, it can be a signal to you that you need to adjust your goals so they are more in line with your priorities — and this will end up making you more productive.

What do you daydream about? How do you use white space to find inspiration for new directions? Let us know on the KellerINK Facebook page. And don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter for more research and tools.

— Courtesy of The ONE Thing Blog archives

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