What to do when you’re excruciatingly bored with your career
These creative solutions can help you kick your blahs to the curb.
If you’re feeling bored or burned out at work, you’re not alone. According to a 2015 Gallup poll of nearly 81,000 employees, the majority (50.8%) were "not engaged" at work, while another 17.2% were "actively disengaged." And for the15 years that Gallup has been conducting the poll, less than one-third of U.S. employees have been engaged.
Workplace boredom could be the result of your brain not getting enough of a workout—particularly if you’ve become so accustom to performing your job duties that you no longer feel challenged.
The key to banishing this type of boredom partly relies on leveraging all the knowledge you’ve accrued to tackle a new and different project that can bring you satisfaction. That new opportunity may exist at your current job; or you could look outside your employer to find ways to help others, network or further your own career in a different way.
These five ideas can help you jump-start your career refresh and chase away the doldrums.
When you’ve spent years—or even decades—in a particular field, you’ve acquired knowledge and experience that you may take for granted, but that could inspire others—and sharing that knowledge might just reignite or refocus your passion for work.
Whether you want to embark on authoring a research-based book or curate content and commentary on a daily blog, writing helps you “record your thought leadership, position yourself as an expert in your field and benefit others,” says Jane Jackson, the Sydney, Australia-based author of Navigating Career Crossroads: How to Thrive When Changing Direction.
In the past couple of years, many individuals have started sending email newsletters through services like TinyLetter—curated content from sources they trust—as a way to share interesting ideas with like-minded people in their field. It’s also an excellent way to build your personal brand beyond your employer’s brand.
Speaking is a great way to meet new people in your field, share your talents and learn from others. Start by letting people inside your organization know that you’re interested and available for speaking opportunities, says Tim Ragan, a performance coach in Ottawa, Ontario, and co-author of Reboot Your Career: A Blueprint for Finding Your Calling, Marketing Yourself, and Landing Great Gigs. “If people understand you have those interests, they will reach out to you and see you as a resource,” he says. For example, let your marketing team know you’re interested in doing a presentation to attendees at the next trade show.
You might be in a career slump and feel beyond bored by what you do, but your skills could help a non-profit organization desperately in need of your particular expertise. Whether you’re a wordsmith or a number cruncher, channeling your talents for the greater good can renew your enthusiasm and make you feel good about what it is that you do for work.
Your contribution might include fundraising for a great cause, setting up an event or pulling together a team of people. “Connecting with other people for a cause is one of the best ways to feed off each other’s excitement and interests,” says Salt Lake City-based career coach Jennifer Anderson. “That energy back into your life is priceless.”
Mentoring a younger colleague can help you share your hard-earned professional skills, while reminding you why you do what you do. A great way to think critically about something is by teaching it to someone else, so you may walk away with new insights that may have otherwise passed you by.
“Find a way to enrich the life of another person,” Anderson says. “Look for someone in your organization who has a similar career path but fewer years of experience.” Some companies believe in the value of mentorship so much, they have programs in place that pair up new employees with workplace mentors.
Reach out to local schools, training centers and community colleges to see if there are any opportunities for you to teach courses related to your industry expertise. Not only will this give you a chance to work different muscles by teaching what you know, it could give your resume a boost, and allow you to meet other professionals in a different setting.
“Over the years I’ve seen people get past boredom by teaching college-level courses—online or in person,” Anderson says. “As you help someone else, you’ll be re-energized on your own career path.”
Of course, if you’re bored with your job, there’s another (more obvious) remedy: Get a better job! It’s a big world out there. There are jobs for thrill-seekers, jobs with awesome time-off perks, jobs that let you bring your pet to work and lots more non-boring options. Start your search today.