There are moments in our day where we get this strange feeling of boredom. At work, busy as we might be, there are times when this feeling of boredom just sets in. At home, even though there is a mountain of household chores to do, boredom sets in. What causes that? I have discovered that there are 3 common causes of boredom:
- Routine: The work has become routine. It is no longer challenging or exciting. You could do it with your eyes closed and one hand tied behind your back.
- Meaningless: There is a sense that all these actions or things before you is meaningless. Whether it is completed well or not, brings no real satisfaction. It does not bring about a sense of accomplishment.
- Too much or no activity: At both ends of the activity spectrum, there is a sense of too much or lack of “things” to do. Too much activities will cause burned out scenario and no activity will just make you into a slug.
What do we need to do to find a balanced and meaningful way to feel significant? What do we need to do to get out of “boredom”?
I find that there are 3 ways of going about this:
- Experiment: Try new activities. Test them out. Even in the most routine of activities, try something different. For example, if vacuuming the house is your least favourite activity, try vacuuming with your favourite dance music. Try vacuuming different section of the house first. Play a game of finders keepers. Another good option is to pick a new activity that you might like to learn. Even you don’t think you would be good at it or even like, just give it a go. For example, I never thought much of gardening. I decided that maybe I will give it go and plant some herbs and invest into an organic lifestyle. Never did I imagine that I could actually successfully grow herbs but actually quite enjoy the fruits of my labour.
- Know your purpose: Purpose drives a lot of our behaviour and motivation. Without a clear sense of purpose, it is hard to go through the drudgery of life and feel that your life is meaningful. Each of us are created to play a part for the greater good of mankind. A quick way to discover what your purpose might be:
- Write: Start by writing down a simple list:
- What do you enjoy?
- What are you good at?
- What are not good at?
- What are you passionate about?
- What do you want to accomplish?
- What would others say about you?
Identify key or common words:
- Identify some common words that you have written down. They could be values that you hold important or desires to accomplish.
- For example, you might find words like creative, travel, change, challenges etc. common and exciting to you.
- Write a sentence that would best encapsulate what you have written down. Read it out aloud. Read it out to your partner or friend and see how that resonates.
Once you have discovered what feels right and comes naturally to you, you could well be on your way to discovering what your purpose is.
3. Find enjoyment in at least one activity: Find an activity or exercise that you enjoy. Whether its walking, running, golfing, dancing etc. It does not matter what that activity is so long as its an exercise that will cause you to work those muscles and heart and as a result will cause your body to naturally produce feel good hormone, serotonin. By the way, I don’t think that Candy Crush would qualify:)
To put it all together, when you are feeling “bored” in the workplace, go for a walk, explore new ideas or ways of doing your job and you will be surprise at how new ideas will bring about a change in your mindset. There are times, for me, all I have to do is rearrange my desk and I would feel like its something new and exciting. Especially when I have rearranged it so well that I would not be playing hide and seek with my stuff. It is a change in mindset, a small change is sometimes all we need to get going again.
View boredom as a means of change and it brings about new ideas and exciting possibilities because your mind is begging you to do something different.
As another year almost comes to an end, the question that comes up is “What have I accomplished this year?”. Maybe the question to ask is one that builds upon each year and that is “What is the legacy that I am building?”.
This question causes you to think not about your present circumstances but what it would be if you could do what you dream of doing. If you could release fear and judgement, and take that step of faith, what would you do?. For a moment, just imagine, what is your legacy? what are you leaving behind? Now that you have imagined a picture of your legacy, what do you need to do to make it real?
Now, what is stopping you?
The question of “What is the legacy that I am building or leaving behind?” will require each of us to not view our accomplishments in an isolated manner but consider the impact of our actions and words to the people around us as well as the community.
This mindset shift will result in:
- Short term vs. long term. Time frame shift: The change in how we view time frame is critical in how we walk, run or sprint through life. There are many of us who go through life like we are running a sprint, a whirlwind day and by the end, we can’t even remember what we have done. We may have gotten a lot of our checklist items completed, and yet, deep down we wonder, what did we accomplish? Did we build into anything of significance? When we view our acts or contributions as building into something, then when the going gets tough, the purpose or goal that we had in mind will drive us through those tough murky days. Every small step counts.
- Personal gain or building into others: Building a legacy requires that something to be left behind for others or those to come after us. That something can be material things as well as what you will be remembered for by others. Therefore the question is “Is this for my personal gain or one that can be built upon for others as well?” In this world where it is everyone for themselves, it is easy to make the decision based on self-centered needs and wants. In fact it is expected of others to not be selfish or self-centered, but when it comes to you, does it ring true as well? How do our words and actions impact those around us? Are they encouraging or discouraging to the people around us?
- One hit wonder or continuous improvements and innovations: Legacies are not built in a day or by just one action but through continuous committed series of actions. In order to build a legacy, there is a need to never stop, never give up in making the adjustments and improvements to do better each time. In order to achieve that, the heart of why we do what we do must be clear and pure. There is no pretending to be supportive of your friend if you are not deep down. Pretense will always be found out. Never stop to be a better person as no one is perfect but to be matured and wise takes time and effort.
- Accumulating wealth or sharing blessings: Look at someone like Bill Gates. He has a lot of monetary wealth and with it he is also making a difference by sharing it to solve problems like eradicating malaria, polio, promoting education and so on. He is an example of someone sharing what he has to make a difference and leaving a powerful legacy in the process. What is your perspective? Are you simply accumulating and just enriching your personal sphere or are you sharing what you have been blessed with others? What builds upon your legacy?
As the year comes to an end, what have you built that goes into a legacy that you are leaving behind? Who have your touched? What difference have you made to the people around you? It is never too late to think about making a difference, being significant. Each of us has that desire to be significant. Don’t just “feel” it, take action. Resolve to not just let the year go by without leaving your mark on this life. Start today.
It’s almost the end of another year. Most of us would have this nagging feeling or thought “Another year and what have I accomplished?”. I do believe that everyone started the year with great hope and expectation of many great achievements and successes. However, I am also certain, that most of us are now in the category of “Where did all that time go?” and “Oh No! I have not achieved what I had set out at the start of the year.” Don’t worry, all is not lost, we have 6 more weeks to go to end the year on a high.
So let’s get cracking:
- Review or set up some goals to end the year. If you started the year with some goals in mind, look at them and remind yourself what they are and see if it’s still relevant or not. If they are, then put a 6 week plan in place to achieve it. If you did not start the year with any goals in mind for fear of not achieving any, then I would have to say well done cause you did achieve that goal. However, if you now feel that maybe I would like to end the year knowing that I achieved at least ONE thing, then write that ONE thing down.
- Create a structure and a plan to achieve the goals. Create an action plan and put structures around that to help you achieve it. Most of you would know what an action plan would be and look like, and I would like to add structure to that plan. That would mean scheduling it into your calendar, setting up alarms to get you going, putting up post-it notes to remind you and so on. Structure supports the action plan by ensuring that you are reminded as well as setting aside the time to make it happen.
- Be your own cheerleader or find someone you can be accountable to. To achieve any goal, requires not just discipline and commitment but also motivation. Set up your own mini reward system. For example, I started the year with a goal of achieving a score of 100 or below in golf. I am now at 101 and for that I rewarded myself with a mini “gift”. I have also decided that once I have achieved my goal, I have a bigger reward in place for that. Sometimes, having a reward in place can be a great motivation for you to just push that little bit harder. Better yet, be accountable to someone and you can be one another cheerleader.
The shorten time frame can be a good thing as it gives you a sense of urgency. This can spur you on and might be enough to help you meet your goals. Don’t waste time, you can still create a win for yourself. Ending the year on a high means that you start the new year on a high and you never know where that would lead you to next. Don’t end the year wishing or regretting that you did not do this or that. There is still time to make it happen. So just do it.
I am sure that watching sports of any kind is one past time that most of us do. Some of us might even take part in some form of sports. In fact it does not matter what type of sporting activities, the lessons that can be learned are immense. The top 7 lessons from participating in any sporting activities :
- Passion: there will be a certain love for the sport. That love drives a passionate response in us. One that will create a wholehearted commitment and dedication to a specific subject. Think about a sport that you are passionate about. Think about all the various information that you know about that game eg the players, the statistics, even to the point that you might be wearing the team jersey and more. Now marvel at just how much you do know when it is an area that you are passionate about. Now think about a topic that you have no interest in and marvel at just how little you know. Passion will dictate where you put your heart and mind and energy into. I believe that every one of us must have passion for something. Passion drives us to want to grow and strive for excellence.
- Commitment and Dedication aka Never Give Up Attitude: In any sporting activity, there is a sense of “Never Give Up” attitude. You could have a bad run one day, but you are out there the next day giving it another go. You could have a bad golf game today, you are certainly out there on the golf course the next day. In a team sport, you can’t give up and leave your team mates stranded, you keep on playing and keep on fighting until the game ends. This type of commitment and dedication serves each of us well not just in sports but in life.
- Team work: You will learn what team work is all about. There is no sporting activity that is isolated or where success is solely dependent on you. In any activity, there will be someone who acts as a coach, people who you will play with and so on. Take running as an example, for the most part you could be doing it by yourself but in order for you to improve or have more fun, you will probably be doing it someone else. Improvements are easier to be achieved when you are doing with other people. Learning from others, supporting one another and winning as a team are priceless. The ability to work in a team is a critical attribute in the workplace. The biggest single point of failure in working in a group or team is the lack of team spirit and the rise of individualistic goals and mindsets.
- Hard work: There is something to be said about hard work. Putting in the hours, spending time on the details and making sure that everything that could be done in preparing for a project is given its attention and due diligence. The competition is tough out there and unless the work is put into our endeavors, success will be hard to achieve.
- Focus on the goal: All athletes have their eyes on the prize. A goal that they focus all their time and energy on. Working hard and putting in the time in order to achieve a goal. Focus is required in anything that we do. Without focus, we will end up starting many projects but probably never finishing any or not finishing them well. Distractions will always present itself and if you do not have focus on what you are trying to achieve, I would say that 90% of the time, you will be derailed.
- Not winning is real life: Even with all the passion, commitment, dedication and hard work that were put in, no one wins all the time. Some days, things go our way and some days, they don’t. Success is not guaranteed no matter what we do. Not every project that is undertaken will be successful. The key is how do we learn from the not winning. What do we gain from missing the mark? How do we prevent making the same mistake? How do we handle failure is critical.
- Always aiming to improve: There is a desire to always want to be better, always to improve and to push the boundaries. In any sporting activity that you take part in, there is always that desire to want to be play better, be better and just to push yourself to see just how far can you go. To keep on wanting to improve, keeps the motivation going. It keeps the passion going and it fuels what you do.
When we put all those qualities together, the reality is that each of us are probably doing it in some form or another. My circle of friends are high achievers. I see those qualities in them every day. Those qualities do not just exist in a Roger Federer or Jordan Spieth but in all of us. To harness them is the key to unlocking your full potential.