Setting goals is not a new concept. We have all set goals for ourselves at one point or another. If you have spent time in the collegiate system, you likely had a few classes on setting goals.
Like many people, I found myself with some extra time in my home lately. That free time (alright, maybe it was actually the boredom) got me wondering; does everyone need goals? What are some of the best techniques for goal setting? Lastly, is there a way to channel this boredom and newfound time into something great?
Why are goals important?
Goals are essential because they keep us moving forward in our life.
Goals don’t have to be about our careers. They can be about our education, our family, and our dreams. If life is about chasing our dreams, then our goals are the running shoes we lace up every morning. They help us focus on the purpose behind the task.
Goals provide a benchmark of our progress, which can keep us from getting discouraged. Motivation and excitement are also the bi-products of goals.
Goals will also keep you on the path of continual improvement. Kathryn Sanford, a Career Resilience Coach, explains that continual improvement is “perpetual, and so to maintain gains and improvement, you need to work on them continuously.”
Being bored at home offers the perfect chance to use the opportunity and achieve those 1% gains over and over. The best way to do that is to start with small goals.
Don’t let boredom distract you; use it to your advantage instead
It feels like since the beginning of time, people have seen boredom as a negative trait. Likely, you have heard the saying that, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” It implies that when humans are bored, we get into mischief or find unhealthy ways to distract ourselves. However, what if you used this emotion to craft some killer goals?
I’m a firm believer that being bored is a good thing and I actively encourage my children to be bored. Being bored helps us tap into our minds and increases creativity. Sandi Mann is a senior psychology lecturer and author of The Upside of Downtime: Why Boredom Is Good. Mann states that boredom is “a search for neural stimulation that isn’t satisfied. If we can’t find that, our mind will create it.”
Just the other day, my youngest was whining about being bored because he had used all his video game time for the day. I sent him on his way to create something. My standard response to “I’m bored,” was:
Find a book to read, draw a picture, write a story, or clean something. There are plenty of other things to do.
I have recently begun to add “or come up with a goal you want to achieve.” He ended up creating an entire Dungeons and Dragons type of game, using sheets of paper and a dice. The characters have health, give damage, and heals, and he even drew a picture for each one.
Maybe someday he will have a goal to sell a board game. Coming up with a plan while your mind is seeking stimulation is a perfect time to flex your brain.
What are some of the best ways to set goals
Goals should be SMART. Aligning your plans with this acronym will help set you up for success. For a goal to be SMART, it should be:
- Specific – It should be explicit, detailed, and have meaning to you
- Measurable – The goal should have quantifiable benchmarks, so you track your progress
- Attainable – Is it realistic? Do you have, or can you get the resources you need?
- Relevant – Keep your set goals aligned with your values and mission statement
- Time-Based – How much time will the goal take to complete? When is the deadline?
Remember the power of the process
By setting up your goals this way, you can focus on the process and not the goal itself. The measurable aspect of a SMART goal breaks the whole thing into pieces that are much more manageable and focus on the process.
For instance, if your goal is to lose weight, specifically say 50 pounds. Your benchmarks might be 2-4 pounds a week. That sounds much more doable than 50, and you will learn what gets you there.
If you realize you need to drink more water, then track your water intake. You can track your meals and count your steps each day for a week. Did you make your benchmark?
Hitting the small goals by focusing on the process will help you develop new behaviors to help you grow, as you work toward the ultimate goal. Maybe you go to school and get a college degree. Sure the plan is a 4-year degree, but how do you get there?
The answer is one class at a time. You get good grades in those classes by being organized, productive, and practicing good study habits. Rest and proper nutrition will also help and are part of the process.
Create a daily routine
Looking at the process required to achieve your goals will help you create a daily routine. Having a routine enables you to focus on what you do every day. Daily meditation, exercise, or journaling will contribute to your success; each can also healthily help combat boredom.
Having a daily routine can help you find yourself, which plays a massive role in how successful you will be at reaching your destination. Part of the reasons goals fail is because we don’t know who we truly are or what we need, and we set the wrong ones.
Mix it up every once in a while, so there is some excitement
Sure, boredom can help us conceive excellent ideas and turn them into worthwhile goals. Daily routines have so many benefits, but you can’t just do the same thing every day. That could quickly turn into the kind of boredom that has you staring at the walls of your house, wondering what they would like if you started randomly smashing your head into them.
One thing that makes up my daily routine is walking around the lake near my house. Sometimes I go early in the morning when the fox is out, and I can catch a glimpse of her. Other times, I go in the evening when the deer are lying cautiously in the field.
My favorite time, though, is when it is almost pitch black, and the moon is high. I have walked it so many times, but each trip around is an entirely unique experience. Varying the order, or time, that you do the things on your routine can keep it fresh and exciting.
You might not be bored
If you don’t have a goal or a routine, what you feel might not be boredom at all. It might be something called acedia. Learning about this term from Benjamin Sledge changed my life. It took a while, but looking back, this was the start of setting my personal goal of becoming a writer.
I wasn’t depressed or even bored with my life. I was living one that didn’t align with my passions or values. I was chasing the wrong goals. The time to be bored allowed me to search for myself. You need specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely goals. However, if they are the wrong ones, they will not bring you the fulfillment that you deserve.
Do you have a set goal you are working toward?
Have you been able to turn your boredom into a force of motivation? We would love to hear from you in the comment section below!