Are you bored at work? Like, did you just type "bored at work" into Google again, bored?
Not just “I can’t wait for this meeting to be over, I guess I’ll just doodle in my notebook for another 15 minutes” bored, but 100% stuck in a rut-been in the same role for years-get paid too well to leave-what else would I do bored?
Let’s be honest. Ruts are comfortable. We know what to expect. The surprises are few. Especially when it comes to careers, people fear the unknown to the point of setting up housekeeping in their job fjord. Hey, you might be miserable in your rut, but you know just what that misery entails. However, humans are curious by nature - our brains crave novelty.
If you are finally frustrated enough with your rut to climb up and out, it can be done.
First things first. You’re in a rut for a reason, so how do you get motivated to get out of your rut? Go grab your beverage of choice and a pen, pencil, google doc - whatever you like and get ready to ask yourself a few questions. In order to get motivated, start with the reason you’re feeling the way you do:
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1- What is the rut I’m in? Exactly why are you bored at work? List out all the nitty gritty reasons.
You need to get down to the specifics. Not just your ‘job,’ but what exactly about your job makes you feel as if you’re lounging at the bottom of the grand canyon.
Ok now that you know what your rut is, you’re going to need to build yourself another path.
2 - Do I really want out out of this rut?
Once you identify your rut - you need to get real with yourself. Do you actually want out? OR do you just want to complain about it?
3 - How did you get in this rut?
You really want out? Great. Exactly how did you get into the one you’re in now? (History is doomed to repeat and all that jazz...)
4 - Why did you get in this rut?
Why did you let yourself get into the place you’re in now? Who do you need to ‘be’ so that it doesn’t happen again?
5- What is keeping you in this rut?
What do you think is keeping you there now? Are these real obstacles or excuses?
6- What would you do if you weren’t in this rut?
Here’s the fun stuff! If you weren’t stuck on this hamster wheel, what would you do with your days? What job would you be thriving at? What new challenges would you take on?
I’m serious when I say you should literally write down your answers - sometimes seeing things out on the page makes them more “real.” Less bat-away-able.
Take a step back, breathe, acknowledge where you are currently, but don’t beat yourself up about it. Address it and move on.
Much like those booty shorts you bought swearing you’d wear ALL THE TIME but still have the tags on - it’s now time to either strut your cheeks or goodwill those puppies.
Make a plan - make it real - write a contract with yourself if need be. You will grab yourself a donkey and make your way out of rutville, but unless you’ve just yelled “DEUCES!” and peaced out on your current gig, you’re going to be hanging out there a bit longer. So, how do you function at your best while dealing with your boredom and antsyness? Tackle it project by boring project:
1- Try looking at a single project from a new vantage point. What is the outcome of your project? How will it be used and by whom? How can you make it most useful for them? Stepping out of yourself and finding some empathy for the end user may at least give you a reason to complete the boring task.
2- Find inspiration elsewhere. Can’t imagine how making the logo bigger for the umpteenth time is helpful to anyone? Go flip through a magazine or watch crazy Japanese commercials on YouTube. Check out the new coffee shop down the block that is pure white tile. Looking at new things can make you see old things in a new light.
3- Switch up the scenery. Take a walk, find a new conference room to hide in, ride your bike at lunch, take the elevator to the 32nd floor. Just do it without any purpose but clearing your head and calming your mind for 20 minutes or so.
4 - So bored you’re angry? Do something that guarantees you a laugh. Does Gary in production do an amazing duck impression? Ask him for a command performance. Got a video on your phone of your niece in conversation with the family ficas? Watch it on repeat. Unless you’re an evil villain, you can’t laugh and be angry at the same time.
Do you see where all this is going? Mindset shift.
Once you start seeing your larger picture, acknowledging that you got to where you are by doing the things you’ve thought about (or not thought about), hopefully you’ll see a way out. The way out starts with simply believing there is one.
Up and out my friend!
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