Why Are We Afraid of Boring?

Why Are We Afraid of Boring?

Everyone lives their lives trying to not be boring. They don’t want to live like everyone else. They don’t want to seem average. People prove they’re not boring by buying nice houses, interesting cars, fashionable clothes. “I couldn’t possibly be boring. Just LOOK at me!” In this cycle of trying to prove we’re not boring, we also expect boring answers to be wrong.

The Boring Answers are the Best Ones

People want shortcuts. They want to hear the anecdotes and not the research. Everyone wants to be in shape and everyone wants to be rich. Why do you think the weight loss and financial industries are so large? We want a pill or a get-rich scheme. Do you know how to get in shape? You exercise. You actually work the muscles you want to be strong. Do you know how to get rich? You save money. You let money grow by not touching it.

We’re Backwards about what is Boring

Let me tell you the most boring story ever. There once was a couple that went to work. They saved half of their income. After ten years, they stopped working. Now let me tell you a more exciting story. There once was a couple that graduated college with tons of debt. They got good jobs, but they bought two nice cars and a fancy house. They didn’t have time for saving. They were busy paying minimum student loan payments, mortgages, and car payments. Every month was exciting. They went out to eat with friends. They had the latest clothes. And they always hoped they had enough to pay the bills when they came. Credit cards helped cover the difference, but those got pretty exciting as well. Juggling balances and staying ahead was thrilling. How could anyone ever have enough to save money?!

But guess what? People consider the second story to be the boring one! That’s how everyone lives! Tell them a story about a couple that saved their money and retired early and everyone goes bonkers! These people become millionaires in ten years? “What’s the secret?” they think. There has to be some secret they’re hiding. Inheritance? Lottery? Eating nothing but ramen for ten years? When we tell people boring answers that have awesome results, people don’t believe us: “I’ve tried saving, and I didn’t become a millionaire!” “I’ve tried exercising. I just didn’t see results.”

Be Consistently Boring

Yes, I also wish that saving money could be something you just did once. And I’m not in love with exercising either. Can’t I just knock out both in a weekend and emerge an in-shape and wealthy woman? No. That’s the problem. You have to pick the boring answers and you have to be boring about implementing them.

Next time you want to do something, think about whether it would make a crazy story or a boring story:

Should you be crazy and pull money out of your retirement funds to do something cool today? No. Would that be the boring choice? Nope. Should you eat nothing but ramen every day in order to retire early? No. That would make a crazy story! Should you incur giant amounts of debt? Nope. That wouldn’t be a boring story. Should you save money every single paycheck. Yes. Should you consistently treat your body well with both food and exercise. Yes.

If you’re doing it right, you’ll have the exciting story later. When you retire early, everyone can go crazy over your story and you can tell them exactly how you did it: by being boring.

How boring are you?

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22 Comments

  1. Super boring. Hate the Monday morning ‘what did you do this weekend’ chatter! Umm blogged, read, baked, Netflixed, napped, played with dogs!

  2. Matt @ Optimize Your Life

    I like this framework. In Deep Work, Cal Newport says that one of the keys to rebuilding our focus is to “embrace boredom.” I’m thinking now reading your article that we’ve gone too far from boredom in all aspects of our lives and a swing back in that direction could be beneficial. Like you noted, everyone is living the “more exciting” life – if everyone is doing the same thing, maybe we should try the opposite.

    • MaggieBanks

      I just read that book! I struggle with that pendulum. I’m always trying to make my life more boring, but then I sign up for more stuff and get all overwhelmed by the excitement in my life and then I have to back it off!

  3. The consistently boring life can definitely be fun in different ways. We’re really enjoying our newest frugal project – and people’s reactions. We bought a used short school bus as our new family vehicle. Everyone thinks we’re crazy for buying it, instead of going out to a dealership to take on a loan for a big van (normal and exciting).

    You make a good point about how life can be more exciting later, after you reach early retirement. That’s what we’re planning for our family – we’re going to be boring and smart with money for the next few years, so we can enjoy tons of exciting adventures together!

    • MaggieBanks

      HOW DID I MISS THIS NEWS?! I absolutely LOVE it. Creativity is a separate factor. Your story is awesome, but your reasons are boring, so that counts as well!

  4. You know, part of the divider here comes back to, are you doing it for yourself or to entertain someone else. Are you trying to be outwardly showy, or bore people outwardly but inwardly have an interesting life. But cars and out ward shows of wealth appears interesting. Financial control is interesting,

    • MaggieBanks

      Yes. I think it’s important to figure out what makes you happy and look for happiness inside yourself and not others.

  5. We’re super boring! And I like it that way 🙂

  6. My parents called me boring because we have no TV at home. Ha!

    I have no problem of being labeled as boring by other people, as long as I’m happy with my life that’s all good.

    • MaggieBanks

      Nicely done. Our boring nights involve checking movies out from the library and Trader Joe’s brownies. 🙂

  7. We are SO boring too! I love this! But we are on the verge of some amazing adventures. I couldn’t fill up social media with all of our “not boring” nights out or parties – because we don’t do that. We have fun – but low key, low expense fun. Boring totally got us to FIRE – great message!

  8. I’m amazingly boring but I always thought of it as a bad thing, not because of the spending, but because my friends are both frugal and incredibly creative and spend their time doing interesting and good for the world things. But I embrace my boring. We go to the park, we cook, we budget, I obsess over every aspect of our money. It’s a good boring.

    • MaggieBanks

      Yeah… sometimes that bugs me too. We are somewhat creative… but mostly boring. Someday maybe we’ll quit everything and try to be creative full time… but we’re doing it the boring way: Make sure we have enough money in the bank to at least cover us for several years in case we stink at making our own way.

  9. Nailed it, Maggie. Mrs. G and I are the king and queen of boring. We drive a boring old-man car (2004 Camry), our wardrobes have been completely assembled from the shelves and racks of Walmart and Kohl’s, and a rocking Saturday night for us is Blizzards at the Dairy Queen. So, yes, we’re totally lame, but we’re also totally free. Better to be boring and lame and financially independent than to be flashy and exciting and stuck in a cubicle for the rest of your life. Hail the boring, for they shall inherit their freedom long before they exit this world.

    • MaggieBanks

      That sounds like the greatest life ever! (I have a big weakness for the PB cup blizzard!)

  10. Amanda @ My Life, I Guess

    Yeah, we’re very boring people. Homebodies. Creatures of habit. Predictable. But I wouldn’t want it any other way.

  11. I love this! If only society saw it as something to aim for, rather than criticize!

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