6th of January – Wow, my usual gym is busy. Very busy. New faces everywhere.
We all know the story… By February it’ll go quiet again and I can relax.
On new years eve, while I was on holiday with some friends, we all went around the table to say our new years resolutions. Like reciting from an old ancient book, my peers and I spoke out the known verses: Behold, I will drink less, exercise more, meditate more, save more, and of course read more paper-bound books. So help me.
Mine in fact was to have less screen time. And so far Apple tells me that my daily average is down 72% from last week to 1hr 30m. A resounding success (6 days in).
Most of us have failed at new year resolutions. Our motivation eventually fades, the habit cycle doesn’t kick in, and we go back to same old.
You’ve probably heard of some shortcuts to help you stick to your new goals. Hot tips like get everything ready the night before (so you can wake up at 5am to earn the sunrise!), or get a buddy alongside you for that gym program, or better yet downgrade your phone to a brick to reduce your thirst for technology.
While those can help, lets look at a deeper reason why you might be falling off the motivation wagon with your shiny new goals.
The next time you see people walking up to a traffic crossing with a red man, pay attention. How many reach for their phone at the first second of of stopping? It’s like the 10 second wait is unbearable.
Perhaps those you watched were mentally strong. Able to overcome great odds and wait for the green man to appear before getting twitchy. Now watch people arrive at a bus stop who are having to wait longer. Unless they are with a friend or juggling 7 children, guaranteed you’ll see most reach in to their pocket for a phone.
We can’t be bored anymore. Kids in 2020 are watching Sesame Street with a frame rate that’s 6 times faster than when the showed aired in the 80’s. That’s because today’s producers know the usual pace can no longer keep a young viewer’s attention.
Even art doesn’t get a pass. It’s argued the average quality within fine art colleges has decreased since the 70’s. Experts have attributed this to lack of creativity. Creativity that can only come from long, stimuli-free and uninterrupted periods of time by oneself. In other words, good ol’ boredom.
What does boredom have to do with me sticking to my goals?
Well quite a lot actually. It’s the same reason why you go home and watch Netflix rather than picking up that book.
Your brain is always going to favour stimuli or whatever can give you that dopamine hit. That’s why you immediately reach for your phone when you come across a tough old boring task at work.
It’s easy to paint technology as the bad guy. It’s somewhat true, it doesn’t help you embrace boredom. But facing the problem of boredom has been around since the dinosaurs. Like a symptom, technology is just our way of dealing with it in the 21st century.
A rule of life is that most of the good things, including the usual list my friends and I dig up every year (drinking less, eating better or reading a book for once), are going to be far more boring than Netflix, junk food, or acting like you’re suddenly a millionaire on a night out.
My advice: Get used to boredom. Embrace it. Even grow to love it. That in itself is a skill you can learn. Like a domino effect, you’ll eventually be able to focus better and tackle those mundane, but important tasks. You may even be able to stick to those new year goals.
Anyway, I’m bored. See you later.