Fight Boredom with Goals!

Lou Holtz“If you’re bored with life — you don’t get up every morning with a burning desire to do things — you don’t have enough goals.”

- Lou Holtz

Quote of the Day.

Are you bored with life?  That is probably not a question you have stopped to ask yourself lately.  Most of you will answer “No.”  Fair enough, but how about exploring the opposite question:  Are you excited to live your life?  On an average day, do you hop out of bed in the morning with excitement, looking forward to the day ahead?  Again, most of you will also answer “No.”

If you answered no to both of these questions, look back at the first again – are you sure that’s your final answer?

Our lives can reach varying levels of boredom – but in general, boredom sets in when our lives reach stasis – a plateau where we are no longer growing, learning or being challenged.  Another way of putting this could be to state that boredom sets in when we consistently fail to reach a condition of “flow” in our daily life (a concept proposed by researcher Mihály Csíkszentmihályi and discussed by Daniel Pink in his book Drive).  

So what is flow?  Flow can be defined as “completely focused motivation. It is a single-minded immersion and represents perhaps the ultimate experience in harnessing the emotions in the service of performing and learning. In flow, the emotions are not just contained and channeled, but positive, energized, and aligned with the task at hand.”

To reach a state of flow requires three things, the first of which is a goal.  What we see here is that years of study into motivational psychology reflect what Lou Holtz knew instinctively – to live a life with goals is to live a life free of boredom.

Revisit your goals and make sure you are properly challenging yourself.  Do they give you a sense of direction and feedback?  When you are working toward your goals, do you find yourself in a state of flow?

About Lou Holtz:  Lou Holtz is a retired football coach, whose career achievements reflect his ability to win and his ability to inspire others.  In 2008 he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Further Details:

The three conditions required to achieve a state of flow:

  1. One must be involved in an activity with a clear set of goals and progress. This adds direction and structure to the task.
  2. The task at hand must have clear and immediate feedback. This helps the person negotiate any changing demands and allows him or her to adjust his or her performance to maintain the flow state.
  3. One must have a good balance between the perceived challenges of the task at hand and his or her own perceived skills. One must have confidence that he or she is capable to do the task at hand.


Flow: via Wikipedia

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi.  (Harper Perennial Modern Classics; 1ST edition July 1, 2008)

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink.  (Riverhead Books.  April 5, 2011)

Image Credit:  Lou Holtz via Wikipedia


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