It’s possible this country is suffering from an epidemic of people feeling bored, stuck and unfulfilled by the work they do. A lack of meaning seems to be causing an increasing number of employees to feel disengaged and unproductive — not just for a couple of days or weeks, but for significant chunks of time.
Never ending to do lists, pointless meetings, numerous emails, unreasonable bosses, poor relationships with co-workers, lack of recognition and an overwhelming workload can all lead to fatigue, boredom, lack of meaning and ultimately burn out.
But why is it that so many stay stuck in such situations way beyond their use by date?
There is a myriad of reasons. While some are absolutely valid, others are merely an elegant justification for lack of action and personal responsibility.
The latest Gallop Poll reported that a dismal 18% of Australians say they love their work and almost two thirds of Australian employees consider themselves to be emotionally detached from their employer, and so they just do the bare minimum. So if you are feeling bored in your job, you are clearly not alone. You can find more on employee engagement here.
If you are waiting and hoping that things will change for the better, you could be waiting for a long time. If you want to be more engaged and to enjoy you job more, it really is up to you to find some answers.
The below four points will provide a good start.
1. Do something new. Much of the boredom, misery, disengagement and apathy that we experience can be remedied by the simple step of doing something new.
We are hardwired to seek out the novel and challenging and without it we end up with a life that is somewhat bland, beige and at times unfulfilling. Recent advancements in neuroscience have found that the brain becomes activated when we are engaged in something that causes us to stretch and grow.
Novel things make your mind jump to attention with the release of dopamine. It snaps into “let’s figure this out mode” and is what motivates us to learn. When the novel is also challenging, our brain will stay engaged even longer. And an engaged brain is a happy brain!
So the answer may be to ask for new responsibilities or to take on projects and tasks that push you outside your comfort zone. Challenge is the key to staying engaged.
Look for growth opportunities, even when you’re busy. By learning new skills you are making yourself more valuable in your current role and improving your opportunities for your future career growth and success.
2. Capitalise on your unique skills and talents. Your boredom may be a sign that you are not leveraging your unique skills and talents. Are you a square peg in a round hole?
I know that I am at my best when I have a degree of autonomy, working with people and engaged in helping them to grow. So really, it was no surprise that when I was given a role some years ago that focused on developing details around policy, procedure and audit requirements, that I very quickly lost interest in the job and was watching the clock, willing the time to pass.
So what kind of work makes you feel “in the zone” where time passes with ease and you leave knowing you are contributing your best skills? We all have unique talents and activities that engage and excite us more then others. What are yours?
Explore ways you can align the work you do with what you are truly gifted at, what you are passionate about and what brings you real meaning.
You may be able to find more of these types of tasks in the role you are currently in. But if not, then it may be time to consider moving on.
3. Focus outside of you. The key to a meaningful life, at work and elsewhere, often lies in turning our focus from ourselves, to how we can help others. As a leader this means creating opportunities for your team, helping them to make a little bit of progress towards their own growth and development every day.
Who can you offer assistance, mentoring or guidance to, keeping in mind that this is one of the most powerful forms of motivation to keep boredom at bay and to live a meaningful life?
4. Take Responsibility. You may not like to hear this, but if you are bored at work it is up to you to do something about it.
If you keep doing the same things you really can’t expect a different result. Now is the time to take action and do some things differently.
You have more power and control over your situation than you may think. No one but you is responsible for your happiness, engagement and fulfilment both at work and in your personal life.