We talk today about powering through pain, fatigue, and exhaustion to reach our entrepreneurial goals, but sometimes stopping is exactly what we need to do to understand what we should be doing next. And stopping, sometimes, requires being bored.
We waste time being afraid of wasting time.
Boredom is considered a bad thing today, as we associate it with unproductivity. We always want to feel like we are busy by being on social media, going on business trips, or doing all-nighters for the business. However, our most insightful strategies and ideas happen when we are walking somewhere, taking a moment to think or actually resting for a moment.
In fact, a recent study cited by the Harvard Business Review found that we are more productive when we take time to look at nature. Having been raised in the city, I associated nature with boredom well into adulthood, as perhaps you did, too. As the study shows, though, nature is really a catalyst for us to pause and access the moment. It gives our brains a chance to process and strategize--and avoid potentially time-wasting moves in the future.
We worry that inaction will make things fall apart.
The entrepreneurial world seems to operate on two gears: Stop or Run. You are either running towards profitability or paddling to stay afloat. It is extreme thinking, and it is what keeps us willingly sacrificing our health and our relationships to reach another business milestone.
Crunch time is real, but insane hours, emotional stress, and ridiculous malnutrition are meant for significant stretches, not as the default. Is every moment crucial? Probably not, or your definition of crucial isn't really valid. The truth is that our ego wants to believe that we are sacrificing everything at this moment because it is what is required of us to succeed. Working without pause also helps us avoid boredom, and that very silence that would make us face the truth about the decisions we've made and the ones we keep on making.
We tinker when we shouldn't.
The fear of boredom also means that we will mess with things when we really should let them flow naturally. Picture the nervous artist fussing over a painting that is already done or a businessperson aggressively addressing a harmless contractual point at the last minute. We have the ability to destroy all our hard work simply because we can't just sit still and shut up.
Mounting scientific evidence says that creatives--the risk takers and the entrepreneurs--are more likely to overthink their ideas and strategies to the point of neurosis. The deck is already stacked against us. Don't be your own worst enemy.
When was the last time you let yourself be bored?