We all like to be good at things. I’ve written before about the importance of doing things we’re bad at but the part I really didn’t get into was the juice of is boredom.
I know: juicy boredom – isn’t that an oxymoron?
What I mean by that is that with mastery comes ease and with ease comes boredom. Having a formula for doing things is a good efficiency tactic, but is comes at a cost; unless you ramp up your game, eventually you will likely slip into autopilot.
Autopilot is great. Autopilot is effective, but it isn’t learning. Autopilot is useful, but it’s aging you. It isn’t expanding the neurons of your brain into new territory; it is keeping you stuck. Autopilot is not the stuff of knock-your-socks-off dream realization. It is not the stuff of wild abandon.
And I don’t know about you, but sometimes the reason I am repeating the stuff I know how to do is because it takes less time and energy than making the hard decision. (Shh, here’s the secret – it’s easier than risking being seen.) Yeah, it streamlines things to stick to the routines I know, but some of those aren’t serving me. Some of them need to be eliminated or modified for me to take it to the next level, and I resist because it’s easier to stick with what I know.
It’s easier not to look too closely.
(It’s easier not to be noticed.)
But will it lead me to unbridled passion?
And let’s face it, autopilot is kind of boring. Think of the formulaic blockbusting movies. They truly do follow one basic script (called Save the Cat by Blake Snyder) and the reason it feels like Hollywood is just making the same movie over and over again is, well, because they are. Yes, those films make money. Yes, they create tension and relief in all the right places. They are designed to. There’s a formula. They found a system that makes money and they now use it ad nauseam. It works. It’s not especially riveting (particularly after you know the formula) because it’s predictable, but it works.
It’s not that there is anything wrong with using a formula. It’s the reason people develop systems in the first place. You can go all brain-dead and just do as the recipe directs and voilà! – Excellence! Which rocks if that is catapulting you towards your goals, but is it?
Is it you?
I, for one, want to push myself beyond what I know I can do. I want to take it to the next level and I know that I can’t keep doing what I have been doing and get there. I may coast well. I may even get some semi-reasonable results, but I will also grow bored.
The other piece of that, is that I’m not super-great at following anybody else’s systems so even if they did yield amazing results, there’s a really good chance I wouldn’t have the opportunity to replicate them.
I like to forge my own path. I like to sway my hips to my own secret tune.
(I may hide a lot, but the truth is I don’t giving a flying frijole who sees me.)
So, to help myself (and you if you are interested), here are my top tips for getting out of the boredom and onto the next level.
- Go with it so relentlessly that acute boredom sets in. I know, I know. I promised you escape from boredom, but sometimes the easiest way out is to go further in. When you feel like you just can’t take it anymore, when it feels the same way you feel when the kids/grandkids are watching Frozen (or that same episode of SpongeBob, SquarePants or whatever kid repetition drives you over the edge) for the ten-billionth time, behold, the moment of power has arrived. It can be just the push you need to let go and move on. Over=saturation should not be discounted as a wormhole out of ennui hell.
- Focus on the endgame. This is a good strategy if your logical brain is good at browbeating your inner sloth. It provides the opportunity for brutal honesty as to how serious you are about getting where you say you want to go. It’s okay if you don’t really want look Tracy Anderson or Tony Little (Jane Fonda or Jack Lalanne for us older folks). And it’s okay if you do. But you need to be able to be able to be honest with yourself about what that endgame is or you won’t be able to gauge the bang for your buck. If you exercise just so you can (without lying) get your doctor off your back about your sedentary lifestyle, then just own that you don’t give a crap about how you look. It’s an honest goal. It’s okay. But if your goal is to look buff in that bathing suit, then doing the same 20-minute cardio routine everyday isn’t going to land you on a calendar of next year’s hotties. You need to be realistic about what it is you are looking to achieve and then honestly size up the path you’re on. Where is it headed?
(This is my big downfall – I like to lie to myself because it feels like cruising towards success. Except that when expenditures exceed income the outcome is rarely pretty – except with calories. Calories are the exception. Warning, warning! Adjustments are needed! Sigh. Double sigh.)
- Find an accountability Nazi. It helps when you are not the only person you are reporting to. Believe it or not, sociology experiments indicate that most of us are better behaved when we think we are being watched. Just putting a picture of a set of eyes up over the tip jar, increases the amount it pulls in. Erecting a camera in a store, decreases shoplifting. Red light cameras cut down on the number of speed demons whizzing through an intersection illegally. Sad but true, we tend to cut ourselves more slack when we think we aren’t being witnessed. So it helps to have a fitness buddy, or a sponsor for your 12-step program, or a life coach for your goals. Just having a Fitbit or logging your expenses or your food intake helps more than casually keeping track. Most of us are incredibly good at slacking. If you want to change behavior, you need to be looking at it.
Okay, that’s all the practical stuff, the boring stuff. Lists are boring. Now the passion.
Passion doesn’t use lists.
Sometimes, the best thing I can do for myself is not know. Be silly. Dance a dance that’s never been before. Act like no one is watching me and I am free to be as moronic as I please. I love systems, but fuck the systems. I love structure, but tear it down.
The anti-boredom juice is freedom. Be yourself. Be the self you didn’t even know you were. Dare a little. Dare a lot. Dance your heart out. Feel your soul.
Because the best anti-dote I know for boredom is reckless abandon. Step it up. Step out. Release your inner fool.
Freefall into juicy.