"Boredom, I think, protects the individual, makes tolerable for him the impossible experience of waiting for something without knowing what it could be."
Here's the deal: you will get bored.
We all love that new-car smell and sense of novelty when we start something new. The first couple of weeks on a new program or routine usually feels like you're really making progress, but then the honeymoon ends, and you find yourself knee-deep in The Grind.
The Grind is the inevitably boring middle part of a training plan when things stop feeling exciting and fun, and you might even wonder whether you're making any progress at all. And that's why most people quit or program hop sometime in the third or fourth week of a program.
Unfortunately, the grind is super-important. It's where you cement your learnings and really start making headway. Without the grind, you don't build to the eventual results you want.
The Grind can suck, but we'll show you how you can learn to love it.
Andy: [00:00:00] All right. All right. All right. Welcome to the Grind is Massively Boring podcast, where we will talk about grinding and getting bored with grinding. I think Weezer wrote a song about that.
Ryan: [00:00:13] They did. Yeah.
Andy: [00:00:14] Pinkerton, their only good album.
Ryan: [00:00:16] How are you doing, Andy?
Andy: [00:00:17] I feel bad for Weezer because they're a really talented band and a hundred percent of their fans are just really wishing they would make their second album again, 20 years later.
Ryan: [00:00:27] I got to say every time I do hear Weezer, I think of our video editor, Andy Foggerty Fogarty Foggerty. I don't know why. He just seems like the Weezer kind of guy, you know what I mean?
Andy: [00:00:39] And for everyone listening now you know we have a very close relationship with all of our coworkers at GMB.
Ryan: [00:00:44] I'm so bad.
Andy: [00:00:46] You're a horrible person.
The Importance of Boredom & The Grind
Ryan: [00:00:46] I'm a horrible person. Speaking of, yeah horrible people. Um, no we won't get into politics. So we're talking about boredom today, actually. And ...
Andy: [00:00:58] It's a thing, it's a real thing.
Ryan: [00:00:59] It's a thing. It is.
Andy: [00:01:00] I think it's important because we talk about the importance of having a plan, of sticking to a plan, of knowing what you want to be focused on and putting most of your energy into the things that really important to you. But the fact is, is that a lot of life is not, it's what happens after the honeymoon phase, right? It's
Ryan: [00:01:21] Yeah exactly.
Andy: [00:01:22] Progress happens during the grind phase, during the plateau, and that is going to be a big part of your training life. So let's talk about how to manage that and how to deal with boredom and how to make sure that we're still progressing through that phase that feels the least gratifying.
Ryan: [00:01:44] Yeah, exactly. And so it's typically when we start off with whether it be a program or even just looking at a single skill. In the beginning, it's, "Oh, that looks great. I want to get that skill and want to do that program," but you're not thinking about the thousands of repetitions that it might take and it probably will take to get X skill or work through a program. It's, you just want that skill and we're all, we've all been there and still, we will still continue to do this, but it's unfortunately we don't take into consideration that it's going to take a really long time.
We're going to actually get bored with what's going on, but that's actually the most important point in terms of sticking with it and seeing results because it's that grind that you were just talking about. And the grind phase is where the magic happens because it's really where you simply just put in the work. And by putting in the work and showing up and continuing to do it, you are going to make progress with that skill.
That's why the grind phase is so, so important. You're always going to hit this grind phase. It doesn't matter what you're doing. I really don't think there's a period. I can't personally think of a period in my skill work, if you will, where there hasn't been a grind period.
I mean, of course there are skills where I was surprised that I actually hit that skill before I thought I was going to hit it. But again, it was I think really thanks to the fact that I just continued with the grind at a certain level of that skill, making sure that I put in the work, the diligent work. You know, in boxing, as they say, you just put your chin down, just get into the ring, you just do your work.
And really that's what we're going to be talking about today and actually about building the capacity for boredom, which is something not a whole lot of people talk about.
Andy: [00:03:41] Does not sound very sexy.
Ryan: [00:03:43] No, it does not.
Andy: [00:03:45] No, but I think it really is important. And the fact is, we give a lot of attention to starting because that's the first thing you have to do. You can't do anything until you start. And we also talk about results of course, because that's why we do a lot of things, but in the middle is the work.
You have to do the work and that's the grind. You get past the learn, the new phase. Then you work through kind of the learning phase and you get comfortable with stuff. And then you, what happens is people say, "Well, I've already learned these things. I've gotten to the point where I can now do X exercise. And I don't feel like I'm progressing anymore."
And that's where people give up a lot of times, but that's the worst time to give up. That's, I sometimes talk about the Muhammad Ali thing is he talked about how many crunches he did. And he only started counting once it started to hurt. And I'm not saying it should hurt, but maybe similarly, the real practice starts once you begin getting bored with it. When the novelty wears off might be the place where you start to really be getting more value out of the practice, then you can obviously see.
Ryan: [00:05:00] I agree, 100%. And the thing is, is you're looking at talking about right now, the macro side of thing, but you can look at this macro in terms of years. Years of doing something. And a great example to me is actually getting your black belt in a particular martial art. You put in that work and Japanese Shodan, which is black belt, is literally translated, if you translate it, "first step."
So it's just the first step to show that you're actually serious about really practicing that particular art that you're doing. And the capacity for boredom, to be able to continue to focus on a single technique or a series of single techniques for not just a couple of months, but for years.
I was reading this article recently when we were doing some research for this podcast.
Andy: [00:05:50] When you were avoiding work.
Ryan: [00:05:51] When I was avoiding my work and not actually doing the work cause I was bored.
Andy: [00:05:56] Right.
The Capacity for Boredom
Ryan: [00:05:56] So I was looking at the internet. So there's a psychoanalyst, Adam Phillips and he wrote this, I think it's pretty good. This isn't the full quote of course, and a lot more to it, but it's a little snippet of it, but he wrote, "Boredom, I think protects the individual, makes tolerable for him the impossible experience, waiting for something without knowing what it could be."
And looking at this, I thought it was great because we have this expectation of where we want to go. We have that skill, we have this particular program. We want to look a particular way. We want to be able to move a particular way, feel a particular way, but it's not one of those things where we can really just jump and do that, unfortunately.
And by having the capacity to understand that we are going to be bored. How do we deal with it? And the capacity to be able to deal with it is protecting us from doing something like, for example, quitting midway through and not achieving that particular goal that we're after. And so that's what I really liked this quote cause I was like, wow, that's really good because looking at it as a way as protection in order to help to keep you moving forward.
And so getting comfortable with that with that boredom, I think is a really good thing. If any of you have meditated before, this is a big theme of meditation as well. You sit there and you're just like, "Okay, I'm going to meditate for 15 minutes today."
And you start meditating. And then at the five minute point, you're like, "Okay, I think this is about 15 minutes." And then you realize you open your eyes a little bit and realize, "Oh, it's only five minutes." So, gradually increasing that capacity for the boredom, if you will, in terms of meditation is a great way to actually use that to be able to apply it to other places in your life, especially when you're looking at exercise skills and doing things that are going to take quite a while to do. So increasing that capacity for that.
Andy: [00:07:46] Right. And so you've mentioned a few times "capacity." And I think that this is important point because we talk about capacity a lot at GMB. We teach people how to increase their capacity for in various capacities, capacity for exerting strength or creating force or moving in different ways.
So this is something that's really important. This capacity for boredom. Don't mistake this as something that you're born with or you don't have. This, like every other capacity that we've ever discussed is something that you can develop. And we're going to talk from here, I think on some strategies for doing that.
But that's the important thing is to understand, again, this is, this comes back to growth mindset, is the acceptance of the fact that you are not done, you are not fixed. You are not in your completed perfected state. And what that means is it means that you can change and you can learn and you can continue to grow. So if this, if you don't possess and most people do not possess a huge capacity for boredom.
And this is one of the things that sets natural, what we think of as natural athletes, apart from the rest of us is some of them just do have an amazing capacity for boredom that they developed very young. And so they spend this time working on the basic skills and that's what makes them so good.
But if you do not have this capacity for boredom, it is a thing that you can develop. And I think that's very important to really recognize and believe is that just because you get bored with things now does not mean that things are boring. And it does not mean that you cannot continue to benefit from them.
It means that you are currently feeling boredom, that's it. And you can develop the capacity to deal with that effectively.
Ryan: [00:09:41] This is good. I want to say too, that this can also be, it gives you a sense of freedom. If you can look at it in terms of, okay, this is just what I need to do. And I love that, to be honest, because there's so many different things in your life that are coming at you, from work from your family and from whatever.
And sometimes just being able to step on the mat and know that okay, "Today for my particular skill work, all I need to do is this." And you just put in the work and that's it. And you just be consistent with that. To me, that's very freeing and I like that. I mean, and so that's why I kinda like the grind for me lets me know that I'm in the middle of it. I'm on my way.
And if I can just stick with it, then I know that I'm going to get there. So for me, I enjoy that, but you know, I'm a little bit of a weirdo, so.
Andy: [00:10:32] Yeah. And I mean, we are a little weird and this is the thing that this topic is something that Ryan and Jarlo and I have discussed, off and on for years. And it really is because part of it due to our martial arts practice is we spend an awful lot of time repeating the same movements again and again again until they're perfect. And then you come back to them a month later and you realize that the bar for perfect has changed and you repeat the same moves a thousand more times again.
And you do that. You repeat that for years and years, and this is a thing, this is how we develop this capacity for really repeating boring things. So if somebody looks at Ryan and like, "Oh man, how did you learn to do this move?" And the fact is is that Ryan can just suck it up and stay with practicing something with his full attention for a lot longer than most people can, because -
Ryan: [00:11:25] That's really it. Yeah, yeah. For me , I'm not gifted or whatever you want to say. Literally like from when I was a child and I did gymnastics, I would just, I just kept doing it and I just kept doing it. So I think that is my super power to be perfectly honest. It's just the ability for me to just get on the mat and just freaking do it.
Where other people are just like, "I think I'm good. And I'm just really bored with doing the bear again," whereas I can just keep doing it. And actually sometimes it's not a good thing for me because as Andy and Jarlo know, I kinda tend to overdo some things.
And so finding that balance though I think is a good thing too, but let's move this though and talk a little bit about what happens when you're in the grind and you're having trouble and you're like, "Oh God, this is really getting boring." Or thinking, "Gah, did I make the right decision in order to choose this particular skill? Or maybe I should move on to the next program." But first of all, I want to say --
Andy: [00:12:19] This happens a lot, after three weeks or so is where this.
Ryan: [00:12:21] The honeymoon period. Yeah. Yeah. We see this a lot. And so this is why we're talking about this.
Finding & Remembering Your Why
Ryan: [00:12:27] First off, is when you do hit that grind really take a step back and say, "Okay, Why am I doing this?"
So remind yourself why you're doing it and this Why is the most important thing. And hopefully before you started that skill, before you started that program, you really figured out what that Why is for you. And so the thing about this is that the program can be the same for every single person.
What's going to be different is that Why. Why are you doing this? Are you doing it for your kids? Are you doing it for X? Whatever. Really doesn't matter to me. It's what matters to you. That's your Why. You're going to be able to fall back on that Why when things get tough when things get boring. And so that's why this Why is so important.
And anytime I go into anything that I'm going to do, I don't just haphazardly jump into it and just go, "Uh, I think I'm just going to do this for the next three months." No, if I'm going to look at a program, if I'm going to look at even if it's just like a four week or a two month program, you better believe I got a Why for doing it.
And the reason is that that Why needs to be strong enough in order to help keep me going, because there are other things that I'm going to have to put to the side and not do while I'm working on that program. And so while I'm in the middle of that program in the very beginning, it can be like, "Oh yeah, this is really fun the first two or three weeks."
The other stuff that I put aside can start thinking, " Well, maybe I should have done that" or something, but if you have that Why, and you're very clear and say, "Okay, for the next X weeks or however long it is, this is what I'm going to focus on. And this is why." Then you can come back to that and remind yourself, and it's going to help you to get on the mat and just keep going and grinding through it.
This is why that Why is so important, and this is what I've had to do every single time that we've done anything, whether it be for example, me shooting a program for GMB. Okay. Me creating a program for GMB. That was actually pretty easy in terms of the Why is because I had a certain amount of time and I was like, "Okay, I got to do this program. And I got to train for this program because I got to shoot it because hopefully thousands and thousands of people are gonna look at this."
Okay. So that was easy for me. But for the majority of you listening out there, you probably don't have that pressure on you for skill work.
Andy: [00:14:58] Right.
Ryan: [00:14:58] So you need to change this and you need to look okay. What is the real reason that I'm doing this? And you might actually find that you didn't do that in the current workout you're in right now. And if you haven't, if you're midway through this workout right now, I do suggest that you take the time to really sit down and figure out that Why.
Andy: [00:15:17] Yeah. And so this is something that, I want to be clear too, that this doesn't have to be like some big, world changing deep motivation thing. Ryan example of, preparing to film a GMB program. Athletes, this is really easy because you have your game, you have your tournament or whatever. But if you are just a grown adult doing fitnessing to stay healthy it might feel like, 'Well, I don't have a big goal. I don't have a huge motivation. I don't have a huge why."
And that's okay. I think that you can find a reason that is pretty simple. Like for example, I've started taking stretching more seriously lately, and it's odd because like I've been very flexible in the past. Both as a child and as an adult at 30, I could do splits.
And now at 43, I can not anymore, but I will be able to again, probably within a month. But the fact is is why am I doing this is not to be able to do splits because what I really want isn't necessarily to be flexible is I've noticed that when I am practicing my martial art, I feel heavier than I want to.
And not in terms of weight, I don't, I just don't have that lightness that I like to feel. And that the thing is I need to be more flexible. And so you might have something like that. Maybe the reason you want to learn a handstand is not so you can get a handstand, but just, it symbolizes that you want to be that cool dad at the playground.
Or maybe your Why is just you just know that you need to be more flexible because you spend a lot of time sitting down at a chair and you don't want to be stiff all the time. If that is it, that's it, it doesn't have to be like, curing cancer or solving world hunger. So don't feel like when Ryan talks about this big Why in three capital letters, it has to be a massive deal.
It's just whatever, it's just, whatever is going to be your reason that you can remember, why are you doing this?
Ryan: [00:17:10] And a great point of what you just said is everything you just said back comes back to feeling how you want to feel. And I think that's huge. And so right now, for me, that's what it is.
I'm past the point in terms of this for my job and having to shoot videos for me right now, I get to do whatever the hell I want to do right now. And so for me, it's really about that feeling, that's it. I want to feel better when I'm going and doing my hiking. I want to feel better, not feel like crap the next day basically is what I'm saying.
And so that's really, for me what it is and I don't suggest you actually try and think of some grandiose idea of changing the world. No, keep it super simple, like very simple. And then I think that is for your Why at least is going to make it really easy for you to get on the mat the next days.
"I just want to feel this way when I do X" and that can be enough. That's for me right now, too. That's what it is. It's just a certain feeling that I want to have, and that's why I'm doing a particular skill.
Trusting the Process & How to Reassess
Ryan: [00:18:15] So the next thing up is also very important and that is trusting in the process. So it's going to be tough. When you go into a program, you can have doubts and think, "Oh, I'm doing this right now. And I'm looking at the programming and, GMB is saying, I should do this, but maybe I should add in this and this and this as well to the mix, because maybe that's going to get me there faster" or, something like that.
But what I'm here to say is trust in the process. We've done this a lot. And the thing is, is simply just putting in the work. Step on the mat, do the work, give it enough time. It's going to happen. The thing is too, the stuff we're doing here is tough.
Skill work is not easy. And so there's also going to come to that point where you might be thinking, not in terms of, "should I be adding more to it," but "maybe I'm not good enough for this right now, or maybe I shouldn't be doing this because X" and those are just doubts creeping into your mind.
But the thing is, again, we've helped a lot of people. We've got your back, please trust in the process and really we're not out there to try and break you down. What we're trying to do is help to build you up. And so again, believe us, when we tell you that, just stepping on the mat each day, listening to your body and putting in the work is going to get you there.
Andy: [00:19:37] Yeah, absolutely. It really is a lot of these things where you find yourself seeking novelty or comparing yourself to other people, these are just your subconscious ways to try to get out of that uncomfortable grind. A lot of these behaviors that we might chalk up to self-sabotage are really just the fear of that boredom, the fear of the grind.
And so you'll start looking for different things to add different changes, " Oh, it's Week 4 of Elements and we haven't changed exercises in three weeks now." Yeah. That's right. Cause you still need to do them. They're still the things that you need to do. Sorry, but yeah.
Ryan: [00:20:18] Sorry, but not really. Exactly. No, that's it. Well, I'll just say it. Unfortunately we live in a world now where it's this immediate gratification and there's new things coming at you from every angle. But really put in the work, keep it simple and trust in the process. That's it.
The thing is, if you're always searching for something better, then you're not focusing on what's right in front of you, therefore you're actually not going to get better. And so you're just spending all your time looking for something else instead of actually doing the work. And that's not what happens.
So you really just need to just put your chin down and do it. The next thing though, really completely different and that is if you are just absolutely bored to shit. And you're just like, "Okay, I've been doing this and I just can't do this again today."
There's a couple ways to look at this. So one thing is to do something else that day. Do something completely different for that session. Okay. Just that day, just that one day. And that's it just say -
Andy: [00:21:17] This is super important. It doesn't mean you need to stop your program and do a bunch of random shit.
Ryan: [00:21:22] Exactly.
Andy: [00:21:23] Write yourself a fucking hall pass for one day.
Ryan: [00:21:25] Yeah. Yes. For that one session and just do it. Okay, great. You just did it. Okay. Now once you've done it, then maybe take a day off the next day. Okay. Just give yourself a chance to just kind of chill a bit. Then, I want you for your next session that you do after that, to go back to the program that you were doing, that you were bored of, and then do the session and just see how it goes.
Chances are you're going to find that by just giving yourself a hall pass, like Andy said, and just doing something else that day, and then taking another day off. When you come back, you're going to say, "You know what? I just kinda needed a breath or to take a breather. I'm actually good. And I'm going to continue with the session."
And so what I'm saying is to really give yourself a chance to step back. Evaluate the situation, reflect on it, and see if it's truly a matter of you just needed a small break for that day. Or if this is something where you're just absolutely sick of it, maybe you made the wrong decision. You need to do something different.
The thing is you do need that time to reflect. Don't make these rash decisions just on the fly saying, "Screw this. I'm just going to do something else. I'm done." Really look at it by giving yourself the opportunity to try something different. Come back to that program to do that session to make sure if it really is something that you want to step away from, or you can continue to do it.
Just remember no matter what you do, there is going to be a grind in it. So just take that in consideration, right? Yes.
Andy: [00:22:57] Yeah, so it may be that you do just need to move on. That is a thing that does sometimes happen. But also just remember that there's an opportunity cost when you switch from that grind phase to start something new, because the grind is where most of the progress happens.
If you're always hopping from new thing to new thing, you spend all of your time in that learning and getting comfortable phase which feels like you're doing something, but it's not as productive. And that's the thing to understand is though it might feel like you're doing something, you will find that most of the people that program hop make slower progress.
And so this is a thing that you need to understand. It may be that after a few weeks of very consistent grind and maybe taking a couple of days off and coming back to things you do find that you do just need to move on to something. That is, that's real. And that's true. And that's cool, but really seriously evaluate whether or not that is the case for you.
Ryan: [00:23:59] Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. I, again if you're not used to being in that grind, it's going to be tough. Even if you're already used to being in the grind it's still gonna be tough. It's just, again, it's just one of those things is you just do it. And just like Andy said, I want to say this again.
If you program hop, if you just jump from one thing to the next, you're actually not going to be making progress. If you really want to make progress, stick with that one thing. Keep working on it and do what you need to do in order to continue with it. That's really what this comes down to.
And we talked about quite a few things in here, but again, the grind really is where, I hate saying, but where the magic kind of happens. Because that's really where putting the work in there and doing it is going to get you towards your goals. Do that.
If you do find that you're just getting sick of it, do something different that day. Give yourself a break, but then come back to the program again to do it, to evaluate. Make sure that you can make a good rational decision rather than something that is just rash and moving onward. But if you do need to move on, then move on. There is that time. Yeah, so really that this is it.
Andy: [00:25:16] Yeah.
Ryan: [00:25:16] And so appreciate the grind. And again if you do ever have any questions, if you need some encouragement, if you're in the middle of the grind and you're just going crazy, hit us up, we'll help you.
Andy: [00:25:28] Cool.
Ryan: [00:25:28] All right. Thanks for listening.
Andy: [00:25:29] Yeah, I think Prince said it best. Thank you for a funky time. Call me up whenever you want to grind.
Ryan: [00:25:35] Hell yeah.