Bored? Here’s a Cure.

bored monkey

In my last blog I praised “progress towards a goal” as equal to or better than happiness. Getting closer to a significant goal is undeniably satisfying.

However, in order to make progress, to get nearer the target, one must first have a goal. Too many times I have heard this lament: “I just don’t know what to do with myself. I’m bored.” A sure cure for boredom is commitment to one or more goals. As a way of jump-starting those without a meaningful goal, here is a list of types of goals. Clearly, some of these goal types will appeal to some kinds of individuals more than others. Scan the list and pick an area. Then formulate a goal, plan how to pursue it, and let your associates know your plans. Do not let a day go by without making progress towards the goal.

Kinds of Goals:

  • Attitude change. Identify an attitude that gets you into hot water, alienates friends, or otherwise is not working for you. Talk with associates about how to work on changing that attidude.
  • Bucket list. Create a list of things you would like to do with the time remaining in your life, then systematically accomplish each of them. I keep my bucket list on my cell phone and share it with others from time to time—you never know when you’ll meet up with someone who can help you along your way.
  • Build something. Does your grandchild need a crib or doll house? Does your partner want a patio? Do you need more shelves or cabinets?
  • Career—new role, industry, location. Consider preparing for working in a different role (sales versus R&D, e.g.), a different industry, or a different location—make a choice and then study up on how to accomplish it.
  • Change values emphasis. Have you unconsciously allowed a value that is only of moderate importance to you occupy more of your time and resources than you deem satisfying? If so, plan how to shift your energy towards a higher priority value.
  • Creating something. Similar to building something, but broader—write some music or poetry, create a digital family photo album, start an online support group.
  • Credentials/degrees/licenses. Begin a program that will provide you with a new certificate, degree, license, or other kind of credential. In my 30s, I applied for membership in the American Psychological Association, and ended up having to write a 40-page essay that described my qualifications.
  • Eliminate a bad habit. Such as, say… [Do I really need to fill in the blank here?]
  • Establish a new habit. Such as practicing (an instrument, a movement, a foreign language) on a regular basis. For example, Charlotte’s International House has “language hours” that enable one to practice a language in a safe environment.
  • Save, invest, budget, sell, reduce expenses, learn about how money works.
  • Growing something. Plants (ever had a terrarium?), animals (ever had an aquarium?), children (ever been a Big Brother/Sister?), knowledge (ever exhausted the information on a specific topic?), your voice (ever taken speech or singing lessons?),
  • Health/wellness. Make a commitment to get into better physical shape through exercise, nutrition, sleep patterns, or other means.
  • Increase happiness/well-being. Read my book about happiness (or someone else’s) and find therein goals that research has proven to increase your sense of well-being.
  • Increase mental ability. Research shows conclusively that intelligence is not a fixed quantity that you are born with and cannot increase. Make up your mind to increase your intelligence in a particular area (verbal, math, visual, kinesthetic, and so forth) and explore ways to develop in that area (crosswords, Khan Academy, Lumosity, and so forth)
  • Knowledge acquisition. Decide to become an expert in something—could be anything from Gregorian chant to flea removal and control. Begin a blog thereon.
  • Moving/change of scenery. If you go the way you’ve always gone, you’ll see the things you’ve always seen. Try taking a different route, perhaps with a notion of finding a new location or path that offers a different perspective.
  • Establish a new relationship, modify/improve an existing one, or discontinue one that is not good for you.
  • Skill/talent development. Commit to taking a specific skill to a higher level, whether it be a foreign language or your tennis game.
  • Spiritual development. Become a student of your inner self, whether through readings, visits, programs, travel, new relationships, or some other source.
  • Stress management. Identify major sources of stress in your life and develop a plan to eliminate, minimize, or offset each stressor.
  • Time management. Identify the people, practices, habits, and misplaced priorities that devour time you’d like to spend on your A list, and then set out to eliminate or minimize their effect.

 There—hopefully, one of these areas has suggested one or more goals for you. If not, sit with someone you’re close to and review the list with them over a glass of [fill in your preference here!] and let them help you identify a goal that you will have energy around.

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