How To Set Goals With Boredom
Updated: Jul 6
I wrote a haiku for the first task in the Social Distancing Toolkit:
Which brings up a very important point... Do you even know what your life goal is?
If you're feeling thrown off or upset by the recent world climate then chances are you don't have a very well-defined life goal. Think about it. If you have a very clear goal, one that is close and true to your heart and your purpose then these distractions will have no impact on you forging forward on your path.
If anything, this pandemic should disrupt your regularly scheduled, habitual, mindless existence. Take that minor disruption and one of these socially responsible yet socially distant afternoons and to do some deep internal reflection. Social distancing shouldn't upset you at all, you should relish at the opportunity to get a little bit of alone time to work undistracted towards your biggest goals and dreams!
Sit down. Shut up. Be bored.
But [insert goal race, exhibition, concert, activity, etc. here] was cancelled!! My goal is gone.
Dumbest thing I've ever heard. If what you were working towards is impacted by Covid-19 then your goal is based in ego and isn't big and audacious enough anyway. For example, if you were training for an event, or practicing to put on a concert, and you feel like those goals are gone, then you are obviously working for the wrong reasons and have no clue. Even if you work helping others in person, you mean to tell me there isn't any research or reading you could do in this down time to become better at what you do to help people? We use these "recitals" to mingle with like minded people, check our skills when under pressure, and derive new targets for further improvement. That is ALL. What you should really be working on day after day when no one is watching is becoming the best possible version of yourself. You're reading because there are things you want to learn, not as a distraction or something to impress others. You're training because you want to be fit and healthy, not to win anything. You're practicing art or yoga because it's an expression of you and it activates your brain and keeps it healthy. Keep doing what you do to be a better you. Who cares if there is anyone to show it to with a race finish line or a picture on social media? That's your Ego talking, and you need to put that kind of thinking to rest.
YOUR CALL TO ACTION:
So, during this Social Distancing, take a day (at the very least an afternoon) to carve out a comfy sitting area and put your phone in another room. Sit there and get very, very bored. See what comes out of your head. Have a pen and paper handy. (Even if this is something you already do, its a good excuse to check in with yourself!) What kind of things do you want to accomplish in life? You don't have to go that big right away. What kind of things do you want to accomplish this week? It's so much easier to feel less derailed when you write out what you would like to do!
Note: This is fun to do with kids! (To make it more engaging for children, have them write a letter to their future selves describing their lives, what is currently important to them, things they are grateful for and excited about, and what their biggest goals are at this time of their young lives. Put it in an envelope and date it for 5-10 years from now. Maybe they'll write another one then!)
THE FIRST THING I DID WITH MY FIRST UNPLANNED AFTERNOON OFF
I took the entire afternoon to revisit my notebook where I write out my goals and dreams. From here I checked my schedule for the next few weeks (and made modifications in the face of social distancing and many cancelled events) to ensure it was still on track to get me to my BIGGEST dreams and goals. There were some events on my calendar that didn't really fit with my big goals, they were going to interrupt my training. Now they're gone. With the new event calendar, I got more serious about my big goals and drafted a general schedule for the weeks and months to come.
ROLL WITH THE PUNCHES
This is about as good a time as any to mention that you have to learn how to roll with the punches. I love having a schedule that keeps me focused and working towards my big goals. But, being too attached to your schedule is also a crutch that something like novel coronavirus can kick out from under you. Always remember why you're working on your goals in the first place. Out of self-improvement and joy, not ego. In that same vein, use small disruptions in your daily life and schedule to practice for big ones.
For example: Your goal is to be a healthy athlete with impeccable nutrition and a clean butt. You go to the store and there isn't any healthy food or toilet paper. Do you freak out and become very negative? I would say that if you're only focused on a short-term ego-oriented goal you would be upset. However, if you realize that a healthy athlete is one that remains calm in the face of adversity and has a sharp mind that can improvise on the fly then you'll be much better off. And when something happens one day during a race where you have to remain calm and call on a quick wit - you'll have practiced.
Use these small nuisances like when small group training, a big meeting, or a product launch gets cancelled or doesn't go as planned to practice rolling on to the next thing. By practicing on a daily or weekly micro scale we won't be as phased by the "big problems"
The best way to roll with the punches is to set up an "IF-THEN" routine. Take a few of your biggest road blocks that you commonly encounter when working towards your goals and write what you're going to do when you encounter them.
This is a useful activity for Social Distancing and times of scarcity. It can also help reduce anxiety for those in your family by doing If-Then routines together! For example:
IF the store is out of toilet paper, THEN I'm going to use my garden hose as a bidet.
Your GOALS don't DEFINE who you are. The PURSUIT of your GOALS does.
Some people like the If-Then routines. I like to say I'm developing the right balance of hustle and non-attachment. In times like these I don't think you can be an extremist. Each day I wake up and hustle. I try to do my morning routine. Write out what I'm grateful for, what I'm excited about. I do some hygiene, which when I'm crushing it, includes a 15min yoga practice. Then I read for about an hour before filling out my planner to schedule the day - this is how my ideal day unfolds.
Unfortunately, it rarely does. But I don't let that get me down. I'm non-attached. I do my best!
Working towards my ideal day every day is just another practice.
I see all of life as practice. Which is why I want more days and more time. I want more time to practice. I love all of my practices.
Yoga, cooking, paddling, gardening, writing, coaching. It is all just practice. And I do all of these every day, and every day I get a little bit better at them. I try to not fill my life with any activities that aren't working towards my goals.
The Take-Home/ Wrap-Up
Take a day or afternoon to get bored and quiet.
Write down your life goals, and work backwards to fill in your years, months, and weeks with the activities and pursuits needed to reach those goals.
Don't freak out when you aren't able to stick to the schedule perfectly. Roll with the punches and develop an "IF-THEN" routine!
Be gentle with yourself, life is practice. Be brave in the pursuit.
Don't let your emotions distract you from doing what needs to be done.
I use the Panda Planner , but I'm not affiliated with them in any way. I just like it. It has sections for goal setting, if/then routines, and planning your days and weeks to stay focused on your goals.