What happens when you feel like you’ve hit a plateau at work? You might have been relentlessly dedicated, passionate, and committed when you first came in, but now it’s just different.
It isn’t that you’re overworked, underpaid, or under-appreciated; as far as workplaces go, yours ticks all the right boxes. It’s just that boredom has somehow crept into the picture, and you’re struggling to stay enthusiastic about your job.
You’re not the only one. According to a 2017 survey by employment research firm Emolument, 70% of Singaporean professionals reported being bored with their work. That alone placed Singapore among the top 4 “most boring countries” to work in, behind the US, Italy, and the UAE.
Although job burnout is mostly associated with overwork, boredom can just easily be a proximate cause for it too. When you’re bored, you also tend to be less motivated and more disengaged at work. You drag your feet to the office every day because it doesn’t stimulate or challenge you anymore.
It’s one of the top causes of high employee turnover rates. Going job-hunting, though, isn’t necessarily going to solve anything.
Sometimes, it isn’t even an option when you need security in a worsening job market. So instead of treating job-seeking as a foregone conclusion to solve your workplace boredom, here are three steps to re-energising yourself.
P.S. The more you practice self-awareness, the less likely you are to be bored. Take your first step to better self-management today with SSA Academy’s WSQ course on applying emotional competence at the workplace!
Boredom afflicts even the best of us. In fact, one psychological study has reported that those with high IQs are more easily bored. The Harvard Business Review, too, previously stated that people who are smart and curious “quickly lose interest in anything” once they’ve figured it out.
The key to overcoming a propensity towards boredom is to know what it costs you. Allowing yourself to slip into the inertia of boredom can cause underperformance and become a means of career self-sabotage. Simply reframing your perspectives on boredom, on the other hand, can go a long way in curing yourself of it.
According to James Clear, author of the New York Times bestseller “Atomic Habits,” even the most successful amongst us aren’t somehow immune from boredom. The difference is that they’re able to power through that boredom and stick to their routines regardless.
To be successful, you don’t have to be in “high-key” mode 24/7; you need to keep falling in love with the process. Treat success less like a destination and more as a process of becoming. This alone can help you retain consistency whether or not you’re bored.
Ask yourself what exactly is causing your boredom. Daniel Pink’s three elements of intrinsic motivation is a useful framework to have in mind when you’re doing this.
Are you bored because you feel that your workplace stifles your autonomy? Is it that you aren’t encountering enough challenges to keep improving your skills and attain eventual mastery? It could also be that you feel disconnected from your work since you can’t find any purpose or deeper meaning to it.
Without pinpointing the root causes of your boredom, it’s impossible to devise a strategy to overcome it.
If work isn’t stimulating you enough, then redesign it for yourself. This, essentially, is what “job crafting” is all about. Yale Professor Amy Wrzesniewski describes it as “what employees do to redesign their jobs in ways that foster engagement at work, job satisfaction, resilience, and thriving.”
While the term “job crafting” is relatively new, the practice of it isn’t. People have been actively redesigning their jobs for a long time. Wrzesniewski’s research has shown that job crafting has a positive impact on job happiness and performance.
Instead of prematurely concluding that it’s time to leave your job in search of greener pastures, consider how you can create the kind of job and opportunities that you want in your current position. Wrzesniewski offers three ways of doing this:
If you don’t feel like you’re getting enough opportunities to grow, seek them out. Apart from asking for stretch assignments, you can voice out your concerns to your manager and work out a win-win strategy that provides you with more challenge and allows you to better value-add to the company.
Build up strong personal relationships with your co-workers. Don’t stop at your team members; link up with those in other departments and teams as well. Put yourself in a position to better learn from, collaborate with, and provide support to them.
Adopting a beginner’s mindset often boosts your creativity. Additionally, try changing the way you describe your work; learn from the famous story of the NASA janitor who said, “I’m helping to put a man on the moon.”