Starting an activity for the first time is perhaps the most fun you can ever experience; it’s new, completely out of the ordinary, exciting to take part in, and is hardly ever boring. But there will ultimately come a time where that excitement begins to wear off and the shine is no longer what it used to be when you first started.
You’re now going through the motions. Perhaps reaching a competent level and no longer feeling a sense of challenge with what you’re doing. This is something I’ve experienced one too many times in my own personal journey when doing new activities.
You’ve reached a stage that Seth Godin calls “The Dip.” Things aren’t progressing, nor are they diminishing. It’s gruelling and ultimately frustrating. It’s at this stage where you’re at a crossroad, and deciding whether to push through or to give up.
So how do you overcome this?
Here are 10 techniques I’ve personally used to keep going when things were boring and frustrating.
1) Push yourself to work when the work isn’t easy or fun to do.
The most common reason I failed in the past was because I failed to “take the first step” when it came to doing what I set out to do. I underestimated the power of momentum and instead focused on the end goal, which made me realize how overwhelming it all was. Instead, focus on what you need to do in the present to get the ball rolling.
If it’s to hit the gym and do your daily workouts, focus on simply packing your gym equipment and leaving your house, then entering your car and starting the engine. Before you know it, momentum will occur and you will have no other choice but to keep moving forward.
2) Focus on the process and not the end goal.
While goals are important, focusing purely on the final outcome will always leave you feeling stressed and frustrated. Yet we simply fail to realize that getting there doesn’t require us to make a giant leap, but to simply take things one step at a time.
Break down what you need to do for that day and start working at it. A year from now, you will look back at the work you did and realize how far you’ve gone.
3) Develop rituals and commit to them daily.
We are the sum of our daily habits‒this is something I never quite understood until recently. I never realized that habits could apply to your working activities and not just to bathroom etiquette, like brushing your teeth or washing your face.
In short, your success is defined simply by what you do on a daily basis and not just how you do it. Figure out what needs to be done daily in order to move you forward and make it a daily ritual. In time, this will turn into a habit that will simply be unable for you to stop doing.
4) Set something up to make you accountable.
If you find it quite hard to push yourself, set something up that will make it inevitable.
If your goal is to wake up early, try something like parking your car in a “no parking zone,” which will force you to wake up at 6:30 in order to move it since you know that a parking attendant will give you a ticket if you fail to do so. Or try something simple, like paying a friend $100 for failing to reach your goal on a given week.
Accountability is very powerful and will help you develop motivation if you seem to be lacking it in the early stages.
5) Make a list of benefits that you will gain from doing it.
When doing our daily activities, we sometimes forget why we’re doing it in the first place, which is what drove us to develop the will and drive to pursue it.
Write down all of the benefits you will gain from doing what you’re doing and have it stuck on your wall where you see it in front of you on a daily basis.
6) Make a list of pains you will experience if you don’t do it.
If #5 doesn’t work, write a list of consequences you will face if you don’t do it. Will not doing it make you feel overweight and unhealthy? Will you still be stuck at your dead-end job for another 5-10 years? Will you still stay single and alone for a year?
Use the pain as strength to help you push through. Nothing worthwhile is easy to do, and sometimes, it can be extremely boring as well.
7) Have a higher purpose that motivates you to keep going.
Besides having goals, you need to have a higher reason to doing what you’re doing that goes above and beyond anything financial or personal.
Perhaps it’s to leave a legacy behind so that others can follow in your footsteps, or to change common misconceptions and redefine norms for the better. Or maybe it’s to end world hunger by providing a beacon of hope for others to follow in order to make it happen.
Have a reason higher than yourself that makes you come alive. A purpose that’s in true alignment to you will provide you with a defined life goal that will make you feel obliged to follow.
8) Make your goals public.
There is nothing more motivating than to tell other people about what you’re going to do. The more people you announce it to, the more powerful it will be; it will force you to take action, since you’ll know that if you don’t do it, you will be branded as a failure or someone who doesn’t stay true to their word.
Set yourself a challenge to announce your goals on all of your social media accounts and put a target date to have it all achieved.
9) Set more challenging tasks in order to push yourself further.
If you’ve been doing something for long enough. There will come a point where you will reach comfort and familiarity with what you’re doing. It will seem monotonous and robotic to the point where you’re no no longer thinking about the motions.
It’s at this crucial stage in your development where you know you need to set new challenges in order to push through and reach the next level. There is never a complete level of mastery in whatever it is you do and there is always another level.
Create a list of higher and more challenging goals for yourself that will make things more fun and interesting again. Perhaps you could try taking more advanced classes or setting higher target numbers in your sales job, for example.
10) Mix up how you do things to rekindle the fun factor.
Doing the same things over and over again is never fun and can lead to boredom and frustration. Try doing the same things in different ways in order to create variety and inspire creativity.
Mix up your training plans, work on your activities in a different way or perhaps change it up completely!
The more I’ve experienced boredom, the more I’ve realized how much of a gift it is. You have an opportunity now to try something different and to think outside the box, an opportunity to develop even bigger character and perseverance when things aren’t compelling, and a quality, which very few people have, that will serve you greatly moving forward.