Ep. 203 Feeling bored at work

In this week’s podcast, Anna looks at feeling bored at work.

As much as it can be nice to have a bit of a break in a high-pressure environment, feeling bored at work can be demotivating and unfulfilling.

*Resources mentioned during the episode*

The Outsiders Business Incubator – A year-long business incubator for experienced corporate professionals who want to translate their skills and passions into a profitable and fulfilling business. onestepoutside.com/9to5

Feeling bored at work

So my daughter started saying a few weeks ago that things were boring, and I’m bored. And I really don’t think she understood what that word meant. Unfortunately, she picked it up I imagined at nursery. And thankfully, that phase has already disappeared, although I’m sure it can come back later on when she will understand what it means. My grandfather, my maternal grandfather always used to say, how could you be bored, you have the whole world library of books to read, and my mum used to charge us 50 P. Every time we said bored or boring growing up. So I have a bit of an aversion that I’ve inherited to boredom, I am so personally interested in everything. I can’t imagine ever being bored, I have so many things I want to do so many things I want to read and write and learn and do and experience. I cannot imagine ever being bored. And yet, this is something I’ve heard from a number of clients recently, and I thought it was an interesting one to explore in a bit of a parallel or a different perspective of talking about I had another colleague talk about how good is the enemy of the best. So it’s not quite the same thing. But it’s in the same territory. Sometimes this idea of coasting, and being in your comfort zone, I talk a lot about being in your comfort zone is a good thing. It gives you a break, it gives you space to focus on your family, or your health, or your hobbies and just to have a breather, right?

We’ve all worked so hard, that actually give yourself permission to just enjoy, hey, you’ve worked hard for your career so far, right?

Now you have the respect the credibility, the reputation, you’re allowed to rest a little bit on your laurels, enjoy the fruits of your labor, head off to the golf course, or to you know, to spend more time with your partner now and travel perhaps as travel becomes possible. See, your friends will read write a book, do something that has been on your list of things for a long time, right? In fact, all of those things, or some of those things, at least, are actually doing quite active things. What about not doing anything at all, and just allowing yourself to do the bare minimum now I hesitate to use the phrase quiet quitting, because that’s not what we’re talking about here. And it’s of course, a controversial trend that’s appearing now as we near the end of 2022. But there is an element of hey, just doing what you need to do, getting by knowing how to do your job, because you’ve been doing it for a long time. Again, you have your team that knows how things are working. Everything’s kind of a well oiled machine, you have your routine, you have the respect, you’re established in your career, and just enjoy that right, get on with it.

However, when you’re feeling, and this is the negative side of this equation, when you’re feeling bored, when you’re feeling disengaged, when you’re not particularly excited to get going in the morning, it’s not so much about feeling guilty, it’s more there’s something missing, right, you’re lacking. And we’ll talk about this next week, you’re lacking a deeper meaning you want to make a difference. Let’s face it, we all want to do interesting things. And as much as it sounds really dreamy, just to enjoy time off, and hey, still get a pretty decent salary for it more than decent. Ultimately, if you experience that, I think you’ll find that it won’t be and certainly that’s what I’m hearing from people in this position. It’s not quite as enjoyable as you think certainly, if you’re not yet at you know, proper retirement age, if you’ve got several decades still to go, can you actually take this level of boredom and feeling not superfluous as such, but certainly not quite as indispensable. You’ve got that sort of exciting, challenging, oh, my goodness, solving problems, working on new projects and, and getting to that next level and so on. Right, that’s a really tough place to be.

So I am just referring back to I created a resource which is no longer available. And some years ago, which is seven signs, it’s time to rethink your career. I say it’s no longer available, you can still read the blog post and I think I’m sure I did a podcast episode on it too. But it’s one of my most downloaded resources ever, and I just thought I’d reflect back on there. So it’s seven signs. The first one is you’ve stopped learning and growing. So if every aspect of your role starts to feel routine, if you’re constantly bored, you feel 50 be no longer have any opportunities to grow. Then you might want to seek a new challenge. Sometimes you just need to change to shake up your existence and get yourself onto that steeper learning curve again, Now, if you’re self aware, as I’m sure you are, you will recognize that simply changing role changing to a different industry might not be enough. When I was looking to make a change back in 2013, I went to interviews for jobs in chocolate and coffee and film industry. And I thought that would be amazing. And of course it would, there was a statue of Dolby on the way into one of my interviews, and that seems dreaming. But the reality is, the role would still have been similar, it would still be the same corporate environment, there’d still be PowerPoint presentations, and so on, right? So it might not be enough simply to go somewhere else, it’s more of the same basically. The positives no longer outweigh the negatives. Now this one is not what we’re talking about today, right? Because that’s when the salary no longer makes up for the stress. And overtime, I had another client in fact saying, you know, what, if I had a really amazing salary, then I wouldn’t mind that I was working too much, right? Likewise, if you aren’t earning so much, then you could use that that’s okay.

As long as you have the benefits of the work life balance and so on. What we’re talking about today actually is a funny situation, which is sounds like something quite aspirational, which is you’re earning a lot but and you’re having a work life balance, right, but it’s not fulfilling and so on. Everything is fine. You know, things aren’t terrible, right? They’re okay, they’re fine. You’re kind of plodding along. But is that really what you want your life to be like? With no passion? No excitement, no ups and downs. Really, it’s it’s strange, but those ups and downs and in fact, the downs are what makes the ops more specialized to it. It’s not about having a major crisis, but feeling like there’s something more it’s, it’s having. Yeah, having that excitement, having the challenge having the highs, the lows, the feeling like you’re pulling through pushing through to hit a deadline or, or get this amazing project overline not quite knowing there’s a bit of risk and so on, right.

Also, if you’re, you know, if you’re counting the days to the weekend, you’re counting the hours until the end of the day, or you’re just like, okay, yeah, clocking in clocking out, is that how you want to live to again, there’s a there’s a phase of your life, perhaps where you quite enjoy that. Ultimately, though, and in fact, what I found interesting was one of the articles I read about quiet quitting, they were sharing examples of people who’ve done so they ended up quitting their jobs, right. The whole point of quiet quitting is that you’re not quitting your job is that you’re, you’re continuing in the job. But all the examples they shared in that article, at least I think, was in The Guardian, where people who then ultimately did quit. So it is sort of just postponing the inevitable. The fifth sign is you’re getting dangerously close to burnout. Of course, that’s pretty clear. But that’s not something that we’re talking about today. Sixth sign as your values are misaligned with the company’s again, maybe that’s not the case here, you’re pretty much in line and aligned in line, whatever you want to call it with what the company does, or, but for whatever reason, it doesn’t quite give you the same drive, right? Some industries are really, as they say, a young man’s game, really exciting getting wined and dined and traveling internationally and meeting all these people, less fulfilling, perhaps later on, I remember the first time when I went on a work trip to a luxury hotel, pre economic crisis, pre all these things. My, my boss had organized a really nice hotel, and we were in the sauna and the pool, and we were going to parties and things that was pretty amazing. I call my mom said, I can’t believe they’re paying me to do this, that becomes less appealing and necessary when you’re older. And you can afford to do that yourself. It’s sort of become the norm.

And then finally, if the seventh sign is you have a burning desire to do something else.

Maybe your gut just tells you it’s time to move on or you have a passion that that you’ve been dreaming of following for years, you haven’t had time, you just haven’t made the choice to turn that into reality, right? It could be trying to go out on your own having a business idea or, or doing something more creative. The situation was we weren’t now being bored having a really generous salary, a really strong safety net, I suppose really having the comfort having, of course, no financial advice from Eve speak to a financial advisor to understand what your situation is about. So called retirement and so on. But there’s this really exciting opportunity to reimagine success. You’re not burning out, you’re not necessarily misaligned with the values of the organization. There’s no toxic work culture. In fact, the opposite it’s a pretty cushy place to be. But there is something more missing. So there’s no pressure in this environment. There’s no urgency in the sense that if you’re burning out if you’ve got an awful boss who’s making you cry every day, there’s clearly an urge to leave to do something else.

Right now enjoy, by all means the fruits of your labor, but take the time. And this is of course, where I can help you take the time to explore. Have your values shifted? What is your definition of success? Now? What does it look like for the next perhaps final couple of decades of your career? What do you want to do more of what kind of legacy do you want to Lead. Do you want to get more involved on on boards? Do you want to do more volunteering? Or do you want to try a totally different career? Do you want to branch out and do something on your own? I don’t know about you. But coming back to the beginning, being bored is one of the most soul destroying things. Now, again, I hear a lot of talk, obviously, having young children myself have the value of being bored. Because kids, of course, are often given iPads, and they’ve got TV, and there’s activities going on. And these days are so focused on children give them so much attention that they rarely get the chance to be bored.

But why is there value in being bored?

Well, it’s because you can then explore, you can rely on your imagination to create something better, something fun, and exciting and imaginative. And that’s what’s exciting here, too. We can use this platform of boredom as an opportunity to reimagine what you could do remember, Good is the enemy of the best, you’re in a pretty good situation. Yes. But what more could you bring to your industry? What more could you do for your family? What could you do? What long, long existing ambition could you fulfill may be at the end of this work, you’ll discover you know what, actually, I don’t have any burning urge to do something else I want to continue like this for for you know, the foreseeable future, now’s not the right time to make a change with has really tough few years. And now I really do just want to enjoy this. And I’ll see within my current role, how I can make more of a contribution. But actually, I don’t want to make any bigger change. Again, sometimes there is a role for coasting, right? You don’t always have to be pushing us up. I think a challenge with high achievers is that we’re wanting to always or somebody put it be that corporate hero, and you want to and it’s so hard not to come to this, to have the accolades and the awards and really push yourself and that might not be the right thing for you right now.

So, you know, I recognize that as a high achiever who’s always pushed yourself and so and actually, it could be a much needed moment in your life when you are a little bit bored, and you’re coasting, and you’re enjoying that and the work life balance, and so on. However, if you’re at the point where that comfort zone is becoming uncomfortable, where you’re feeling, oh, I’m a little bit trapped. I’m just I just don’t think this is good for my mental health to continue like this. I don’t feel so needed, it’s too easy for me. If that resonates, then then do get in touch, I can help we can work on clarifying what might be next for you getting you that clarity, right on what’s important, what could that next stage look like? A bit of a different episode today. But something that has come up quite a bit again, 50 P, every time you say bored it gives, you can take that lesson and use it with your partner use it with your children as needed. I’m not sure if it helped. But certainly it’s pushed me in life to always find ways to stay busy.

I think and, and of course, that can be dangerous in itself. But here we’re talking about really turning this opportunity into something better, right, something exciting. It’ll take time to build something new. But that’s what is so exciting, right? That’s what will bring you the fulfillment of beginning on something new, whether there’s a little bit of risk and the reward is not completely guaranteed. And you’re going to be meeting new people and you’re going to be starting something different and, and uncovering perhaps discovering a different part of you that perhaps has been dormant for some time because you’ve been at the peak of your game for so long right in your career. So food for thought do get in touch. If you want to have a chat as ever, you can go to one step si.com forward slash call, one step outside.com Ford slash call or you can message me on your chosen social platform. LinkedIn in particular, I’m very active there at the moment. And it’s probably the most relevant platform for this conversation as well. And get in touch, we can have a conversation and see what that could look like working together. Thanks so much for listening. No more boredom. Or if you are being bored, then enjoy it, be intentional about it and recognize that it’s there’s value in this moment as well. There is value in having a bit of a breather, having that space, having a break, when it starts getting uncomfortable, or perhaps before then as well. Let’s get some structures in place.

Let’s get a plan in place for getting you out of that funk. And into jumping out of bed in the morning again to do something that’s really meaningful to you. Thanks so much for listening, and I’ll see you next week. I know that point where you’re asking yourself, Is this really what I wanted to be doing the rest of my life? And the answer is a resounding no. But you’re not yet sure what you want to do and says, I guess it I was in your shoes back in 2013. When I took a good hard look at myself and my CV and up until then I’d followed the conventional path. Good school good university. Good job. I was also single while more and more friends around me were settling down with partners and babies. Now fast forward to today and I built a coaching and consulting business. I published two books with more on the way I’ve launched the podcast, but more than I’ve been able to travel the world I’ve made more time for friends and family. And I’ve designed and shaped a location and business and a lifestyle that’s 100% tailored to my own personal definition of success. And I’ve also moved countries I’ve fallen in love and I’ve had two beautiful little children. So if you want to redefine what success looks like for you, then get in touch to book a call onestepoutside.com and I would like to help you do just that.

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