Boredom Is Power

Last updated: Jan 17, 2015

Boredom is powerful. Especially powerful for ambitious people who aim to produce.

In 2012, I decided not to go back to my university in South Korea. I was an exchange student in Finland and started over as a regular. And boy did it change everything.

Back then I was not able to articulate the reason my heart insisted I stay in Finland. Today I know why: Finland is a peaceful place that lets you feel intense boredom frequently. To me, boredom was the driving force that made possible so many projects, new work and new skills.

Boredom helped you? Ridiculous, you might say. No. Seriously. Boredom is a wonderful thing to have, so long as you resist it head-on.

The great fear is not of disease or death, but of boredom. A sense of time on our hands, a sense of nothing to do. A sense that we are not amused.

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Boredom is painful and should feel unbearable. It is a necessary evil that lets you set sailing for something ambitious and exciting. It is totally fine if you feel bored of doing what you are doing now. There is no obligation to find the job still interesting, even if it is a hard-earned thing and something others want now.

In a way, boredom is a seed. If you resist it hard, you will grow it to become a great tree. However if you avoid or get used to it, the seed may never grow.

Back then, my decision to move to Finland shocked my family and friends in Korea. After all I was attending a fairly prestigious university. Plus I have been in Finland only for four months. What would a twenty-something know about good decisions in life? Comments I heard were an euphemism to such doubt. Of course, even if I had decided not to stay, my skills and insights would have improved monotonically and I might have still achieved something remarkable.

The dealbreaker was, however, that I would be too busy in Korea. I was worried I would have too many internal and external responsibilities that drain my discretionary time and limit my rate of growth in the long term.

After all, what I desired was an exponential growth, not incremental growth. And for that, I needed a favorable environment where I can be bored enough to start thinking big and invest in skills that will prove useful for decades to come.

I thank boredom and Finland, now my second home, which allowed such amazing power.

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