Being idle was never something I was good at. From an early age I was compelled to stay busy. My father kept me occupied with chores when I wasn't in school or doing homework. I performed odd jobs for neighbors, and when I was old enough, I got my first paying job at 25 cents per hour working on a neighboring farm. Once I began, I wasn't able to stop. Down time was spent with my nose in a book, often finished in a day. I was just never content to be idle, to stand still, to just listen, or even reminisce. I was always looking for the next thing to do.
Following high school, a stint in the Navy, and then college, my work career was similar. I was driven by a challenge mixed with curiosity. I went from job to job, climbing the ladder, never feeling fulfilled. I worked most of my life as a consultant, which was a perfect fit. Each engagement was like a battle, and as soon as I had succeeded, I was looking for the next challenge.
But as I got older, I began to wonder if I would ever be content, would I ever be simply satisfied at doing, well, "nothing". When finding that place became my objective, I was faced with the difficult challenge of my life. I realized that doing it; the success of overcoming challenges, collecting diplomas, plaques, and testimonials had become who I was. I went through a difficult period of trying to sort out who I was, really.
Now that I am retired, somewhat, I'm finally getting the hang of it. I at least have periods where I'm no longer compelled to stay busy, where I can do something that has no challenge or even an objective attached to it. And I am slowly learning to be okay with it for the most part. I am able to sit quietly, watch the river flow by my home, listen to the sounds of the wildlife, and just relax, or take in a movie, or read a good book. All with no mission or objective to fulfill. So, slowly, I am finding contentment.
Following is a great article I read on the subject. You might find it helpful or interesting.