Boredom is the great killer of innovation and career. It makes us stagnant and dull, ineffective and apathetic. Boredom kills our will to do much of anything. It can sneak in everywhere, whether in the office or at home. We find it often when our jobs become too routine and monotonous, or when we find ourselves unchallenged or exhausted by work.
Though we’ll all experience boredom at some point or another, none of us have to put up with it. If you let it, boredom will steal your motivation, your creativity, and your drive. It will make you weary, restless, and make you feel profoundly dissatisfied.
The good news? We can all beat boredom. No matter where you are in your career—whether you’re working a retail job or you’re at the bottom of the ladder in the office, or you’re at the top of the food chain or a budding entrepreneur, you don’t have to let boredom ruin your ambition.
Here are my top strategies for defeating boredom.
6 Steps to Defeating Boredom in a Stagnant Career
1) Look for something that inspires you.
Whether it’s an art exhibit, exploring new music in a streaming service, reading a great book, or eating great food, inspiration is everywhere. It’s also a great way to keep boredom off of your back. If you’re feeling stagnant and weary, look for something to re-energize your inspiration. It could be any number of things, but what is important is that it sparks something in you that makes you excited. If it gets you thinking creatively about whatever it is that you do and helps you engage more fully, then you’re doing something right.
2) Prioritize lifelong learning.
Sometimes success can lead to boredom. This is because once we have achieved all that we have set out to achieve, we have nothing left to do—nothing left to challenge us. This is why so many younger retirees worry that they’re going to get bored! One of the ways you can avoid this is to devote yourself to lifelong learning. The best leaders are the ones who dedicate themselves to a constant pursuit of knowledge. They’re always striving to keep their minds fresh and engaged with new ideas, concepts, and thoughts. They want to know more. It’s this desire to engage with the world, with culture, and with information that keeps boredom at bay. How can it possibly get a toehold when there’s a whole world out there waiting for you to explore?
3) Get outdoors.
If you need an energy boost, go outside. Better yet, go for a walk or a run! Combining physical activity with mental productivity is a great way to fight boredom. Even if you can’t exercise because you’re on the clock, just a change of scenery can give you a mental boost. Work from a coffee shop or park for a little while, or just take a small break for some sunshine and fresh air.
4) Search for the challenge.
Mentally, we all need something that will offer us a challenge. Many times, boredom happens not because the work we do is repetitive or uninspiring, but because it doesn’t challenge us in any way. We need to be doing things that make us feel accomplished and inspired. Maybe you’ve grown beyond your job description and you need bigger responsibilities and tasks and you need to ask for more.
Maybe you’re just too comfortable with what you’re doing and you need to be pushed. Don’t let yourself become too comfortable doing what comes easily to you. Let yourself be challenged!
5) Understand your greater purpose.
I am a huge proponent of having a greater purpose in whatever it is you do. For example, I don’t believe in investing just to invest. I believe you need a reason beyond doing something just for its own sake. When it comes to a job or career, it can often become boring if we don’t have a clear purpose or if our purpose has become skewed. Are we in it just to earn a paycheck?
That’s not going to keep you going when it gets tough and when boredom kicks in—every job offers a paycheck, and plenty will offer you a bigger one!
What you need is a purpose, and you need to think of it in the right way. If we’re not careful the pessimist in you may come out, especially if you’re bored, weary, and frustrated. You may see yourself as slogging through your job to for a less than noble cause, when, in fact, you can inspire yourself to keep pushing forward with some positive reframing of your purpose.
An employee at a startup, for example, can see himself as being part of a company that is bettering society versus someone lining his boss’ pockets. That shift in thinking makes a big difference!
6) Get out of your comfort zone.
Lastly, if we want to stop being bored, we have to get uncomfortable. Boredom happens when we’re too complacent and comfortable with where we are. We have to take some risks and be daring if we want to push forward, stay innovative, and foster creativity wherever we are. The next big thing didn’t come from people who stayed in their comfort zone. It came from people willing to take risks, and you can bet they weren’t bored!
Maybe you need to take on that extra project or start pushing yourself to learn a new skill. Whatever it is, take a chance. Push yourself beyond where you are now. Learn to be okay with risk and a certain level of discomfort. Not only will you beat boredom, but you’ll grow into a better version of yourself along the way.
What are your best strategies for beating boredom? Share them in the comments below.