Have you ever felt as though you were living the same day over and over again? It’s frustrating when the job you once loved starts to feel like Groundhog Day. It’s easy to blame yourself. Why can’t I stick with anything longer than 12 months? Why do I get bored so easily? Before you do anything rash it’s worth taking a closer look at the reason why you’re feeling this way.
In my experience, the number one reason people get bored is because the job is no longer a challenge. How often have you played it safe when it comes to taking on a job? If you’re bored it could be because you’re playing small and not doing all that you’re capable of.
This happened to one of my favourite characters in a recent episode of Million Dollar Listing New York. If you don’t watch the show, here’s the overview. Ryan had a career crisis because he was feeling bored with his business. He consulted a psychologist, took some time off and tried to reconnect with the work he was doing in the early days when everything was new and exciting. After a lot of soul searching he realised that he was bored because he’d stopped taking risks in his business (spoiler alert: he went out and bought a Brooklyn real estate agency!).
You know what I’m going to say next.
1) Figure out how you can take more risks
What can you do that would be a stretch for you now? What bold moves can you take to achieve your version of a Brooklyn real estate brokerage?
If leaving your current job is not an option, can you develop a side hustle? This could be giving talks at conferences and events, hosting your own event or taking on some consulting work. I have done this myself in the past. When I wanted to improve my public speaking skills (and get over my nerves), I spoke at events and took on additional projects like teaching workshops. All of these tasks pushed me outside of my comfort zone where I could grow and develop my skills.
If you want to take on more responsibility at work start with how you can make life easier for your manager. What could you offer to take off of her plate that would be make your role more challenging? This brings me to my next point.
2) Ask for what you want
You would be surprised by how many people I see unhappy at work but unwilling to ask for a change in their role. It’s funny how we resist taking the simplest action to change our careers. Go and ask for what you want. Most managers want to have happy staff so if you want to have more responsibility or reduce your hours to take a course or start a business, your manager may be more open to it than you think.
The key to doing this successfully is to make it clear what you want and then be willing to negotiate to make it happen. Don’t give up if he says no to your first request. It’s important to work together to come up with a solution that works for everyone.
But what if you’re not sure what you want?
3) Become an observer
Start by becoming an observer of what you do right now. You will find valuable clues about what could be next for you. When you don’t know who you’re becoming, you can begin by articulating the 5 per cent that you can see (a fabulous post by Tara Mohr on this here).
Here’s how to do this. Set an intention to observe your day to gain insight about your situation. Then switch into observer mode at work. Watch yourself as you perform your daily tasks, interact with people and go about your business. What do you notice about how you conduct yourself? The impact you have? How you feel? Notice where you feel the most joy, the most resentment and keep an eye out for situations that bring out the best in you and make you feel good at the same time. It’s as though you are sitting on your shoulder watching everything play out. You will naturally switch back and forth between observer and doer which is fine. I always discover something new when I do this.
4) Share your feelings with your colleagues
In Million Dollar Listing, Ryan consulted with a psychologist and his wife. But if you can, I believe talking things through with a colleague can be helpful. If you have a good relationship with your co-workers they can give you valuable insights into why you might be feeling less than enthused about your job. Maybe burnout is an issue in your industry and your colleagues have been through similar challenges. They can also give you helpful feedback about what they see as your strengths. Remember that the people you work with, including your manager, might have advice on how you could vary your role or switch to another job altogether. It’s ok to admit that you’re not fully enjoying your work and ask for help.
5) Clear the clutter
I’m talking about the mental clutter that often weighs us down when it comes to work. Whether it’s the thousand emails sitting in your inbox, the number of meetings you attend, or the colleague who consistently asks you for time-consuming favours. Whatever it is, ask yourself: What do I need to let go of here? What’s getting in the way of me doing my best work? Some of the issues that have come up for me in the past include: people pleasing, the desire to do everything perfectly and the need to do everything myself. Trust me, the world won’t fall apart if you don’t respond to every email or explain to a colleague that you can’t respond to every request. How can you help them in a way that’s less time consuming for you? Can you delegate this aspect of your job?
When you decide to let go of the things that are getting in the way you’ll open up more space for the work you need to focus on. Be warned, letting go can make you feel a bit wobbly at first because you’re breaking new ground. If this is bringing up a few objections for you, start with something small. Once you see results, it will give you the courage to tackle bigger issues.
6) Review your goals
What do you want to achieve in the next 12 months? Write down your top three goals and think about how your job will help you to achieve them, whether it’s continuously developing your skills, gaining experience or buying a new home. Reframe your current role as a positive addition to your life. Instead of constantly thinking: I don’t want to go to work today, a new affirmation might be: My job supports my personal and professional growth.
If it turns out that this job is not going to help you achieve that goal, then of course it’s time to look for a new opportunity. The advantage of doing these exercises is that you will gain so much clarity on whether your current role is still right for you, or whether you’ve outgrown it and it’s time to move on.
I would love to hear how these tips work out for you in the comments. In the meantime I wish you an amazing and inspiring day 🙂