Bored with your job? Follow these 3 steps to get unstuck.

Listen on:

We all get bored with our job at times. It usually happens once you’ve reached a few big goals and learned so much about your job that it’s no longer challenging. You’re bored because your brain loves a problem to solve, and you’ve solved all the big hard ones. So now what? Listen in this week and learn the 3 steps to take to feel motivated and excited about work again. And spoiler alert, you don’t have to change jobs if you don’t want to. Listen and learn. Mentioned in the show: Want to get help with your specific situation? Let’s schedule a coffee chat. I offer a limited number of 1:1 coffee chats each week. There is no charge for this call so spots fill up fast.  Grab time on my calendar at https://lindsaylymancoaching.com/call and let’s get you feeling unstuck today.

How’s everybody holding up out there? Hopefully, things are about to calm down, and you’re able to step away and enjoy a few days around the holidays with your friends, family, and loved ones. Hopefully, some of those people are people you choose to be around, not people you have to be around. It’s coming up on my favorite week of the year, that week in between Christmas and New Year’s. Someone once termed it the Bermuda Triangle week, and I was like, “Yes, that is what it is!” It’s this weird in-between week where I have zero motivation, I struggle to know what day it is, and I’m just kind of lazy but also thinking big ideas, ready for the new year to start. It’s the weirdest week, and I love it. When I was in a corporate setting, it was my favorite week to work, actually, because it was dead silent. Like, hardly anyone was in the office, there would not be any emergencies, no one was pinging me, and I would get through performance reviews, goal setting, some document writing. Like, I was so productive during that week. And then I’d go home and be weird and not do anything, but it’s kind of my favorite week. So, it’s coming up, get excited with me.

 

Today, I want to talk about what to do if you find yourself in a place where you’re really feeling bored with your job or your career. And I want to kind of give you three steps to take to figure out, how do you get out of that? What do you do? This is a pretty common thing most of us go through, and I’m kind of seeing it in a lot of my clients where they’ve had some amazing things, they’re successful, they’re in a good spot, but they’re just kind of like, now what?

 

It was the funniest thing. I was getting on a client call earlier this week, and I was just kind of chit-chatting with them, giving a status update, and telling them, you know, nothing too new and exciting to report in my life, which I was excited about because I love a boring life update when there’s not hard challenges and crazy things going on. I love kind of the status quo at times. And my client was like, “That’s so funny because what I wanted to talk to you about today was that I’m not okay being bored. I’m not okay when I’m not being challenged.” And I laughed because I was like, “Oh, totally. Like, in a work setting, if I’m bored, it’s terrible. It feels like I’ve got to drag myself out of bed and, like, I don’t like just going through the motions at work. With my home life, my kids, things that are going on in that world, I love boring because that means we haven’t made any trips to the ER, I haven’t been called into kids’ schools. Like, I love boring in that world selfishly.”

 

The reason why we feel so bored when we’re not growing and learning is because your brain is constantly trying to solve problems. It loves a challenge. In fact, it’s always problem-solving to the point where if you don’t give your brain a real problem to solve, it’s going to make it up. It’s why we worry so much about hypothetical things because your brain is obsessed with solving problems. And when you start to wander into that hypothetical, “Well, what if?” and worry about imaginary things, what that’s telling us is we haven’t given your brain enough real problems to go to work and try to solve. But another topic for another day. What I want to talk about is what do you do when you find yourself in that place where you really are just bored at work?

 

Typical growth in any scenario is like a bell curve. So, if on the bottom x-axis is time, and on the y-axis is learning, that bell curve is going to have a really steep incline at the beginning, and then you’re going to cruise along the top, and then you’re going to come crashing down the longer you’ve been doing it, and the learning decreases. So, I kind of see this, typically we go through four phases with learning and growing at work.

 

We usually start out in that very high learning phase. It’s the beginning. We’re new to it. We just started a new job, a new company, a new career, a new challenge. It’s really high learning. This phase one, it is exhausting, sometimes really overwhelming. This is the phase where you don’t even know what you don’t know. Being in this first phase looks like attending meetings where you sometimes feel like they’re speaking a completely different language, or you leave with more questions than you even had going in. Being in this phase looks like being exhausted at the end of the day, yet you haven’t actually done anything. It’s not being able to do those normal things after work because you’re so tired. Your brain is working so hard, it’s exhausted, and it’s just done. Done. I think of it like once you get out of this phase, your brain still wants challenges, it still wants to learn and grow, but when it has to do it at such a high rate, it has a certain capacity.

 

I kind of think of it like when my local grocery store reorganizes everything. It drives me insane because now I can’t just run into the grocery store really fast and run out. I’ve got to, like, pay attention to the signs and where they put things and really look for it because it’s not autopilot. I have to relearn everything. I can’t be on the phone talking to someone when that’s the case. I need my brain power to focus. Even though I’m still just going into the grocery store to get a few things, it’s actually harder to do because I have to learn and pay attention to what I’m doing. In this phase, you’re usually thinking a lot about your job, about your scope of work, about what you could do, and you’re coming up with plans.

 

Okay, so we start off in this phase one, a very high learning curve that’s exhausting. Then we move into phase two, typically, and we go from the exhausting part to kind of the painful part. Because this is the part where we’re not as mentally exhausted, but it’s painful because now we’ve got to go do some things, and we’ve got to screw up enough to learn it. We’ve got to go fail forward. Okay, so in phase one, you don’t even know what you don’t know. Phase two, it’s also painful because you now know what you don’t know, and you still have a lot of learning you need to go through. Phase two looks like making sure you have a solid, detailed plan before you actually start doing the work. It looks like having people double and triple-check your work before you get started and jump into it. It looks like talking to people after the meeting to get their feedback, not necessarily in the meeting. It’s making those mistakes. It’s doing it wrong and redoing it and doing it wrong and redoing it and doing it wrong and redoing it and learning through experience. Okay, again, this is high growth, high learning. We have to go out there and do some things and screw it up enough for our brains to be like, “Ah, I get it. This is how I do it right.” So, in the beginning phase, you’re kind of just soaking it all in mentally. Now we’re going to go out and do some things. And I’m not saying all of it’s going to be a screw-up, but it’s really painful.

 

Okay, so phase one, we’re exhausted. Phase two, it’s a little painful. Stick with me. It gets better here. Okay, once we’ve moved through phase two, now we’re in phase three, right? So, we want to think of the top of that bell curve. We’ve done enough things, we’ve been here long enough, now we know enough to go and do our job and be successful at it because we also know how to figure out the rest. This is what I think of as the fun, euphoric, best part of any job or project. This is where you’re coming up with new ideas, you’re launching things, you’re creating a strategy, and you’re executing it. You’re leading things, you’re participating in meetings, you’re speaking up confidently, you’re probably helping other people that are in phase one or phase two figure things out. This is fun. This is where we go and do it. It’s really rewarding. We are still learning, but we’re not learning at that same rapid pace. It’s like it’s kind of the payoff for all of that pain and exhaustion we went through. Now comes the good part. Okay, and that’s a really fun phase to be in.

 

But then what happens is once we’ve been in that phase long enough, like I said, we’re not learning as much as we were initially in the beginning. And that’s when we tend to slide into phase four, which I kind of think of is like the comedown. And this is the part where we get really bored. You know you’re in phase four if it feels like you could do your job in your sleep, or it feels like you’re working on the same problems and you’re doing them over and over and over again, and you start to not care as much. Your work usually isn’t as good as it was even in phase two or phase three because you’re just like, “Yeah, yeah, we get it done.”

 

I kind of think of this as like Groundhog’s Day, if you saw that movie where he lives the same day over and over and over again. That’s what it starts to feel like when I’m in stage four. This is where I can usually step back and predict things pretty accurately. Like, I remember one of my jobs when I definitely was in stage four, we were getting ready to launch a new service, and I could step back and be like, “I’m pretty sure somewhere along this launch, some executive somewhere is not going to be happy and be annoyed that we’re doing this, and we’re going to have to roll it back for their group.” And sure enough, that’s kind of what happened. Because we’ve been doing it so often, we can see things more clearly. And why that’s helpful? Because we can do things to set ourselves up for success, to plan for those alternative issues that might come up.

 

It’s not fun. We’re not learning. We’re like, “Yep, here’s what’s going to happen. Yep, here’s what’s going to happen.” We’re kind of just dialing in. This is what people refer to as, like, rest invest. You’re doing your job, but it’s not fun. It’s not motivating. You’re not pushing and growing. I also think of these four different phases as seasons, right? And you will continue to cycle through these seasons, just like in real life, we go from spring to summer to fall to winter. You will continue to cycle through them. You cannot stay in one season forever. We are always moving in that cycle.

 

So, as I think about this in seasons, for me, spring is where things are new and they’re starting to grow. But where I live in the United States, spring is also really cold and rainy. It’s kind of exhausting and tiring, and I’m like, “We just came out of winter. It’s dark. It’s cold. Like, I want to be done with it.” Spring, there’s a little bit of hope. I’m starting to see the seeds pop up, things are starting to move, but it’s still really hard, right? Spring is that phase one where it’s exhausting.

 

Summer is that phase two where you’re learning and you’re growing fast, but it’s a little bit hot, and you’re going to get burned a little, and you’re going to make mistakes. But it’s working. You’re chugging forward, you’re going in the right direction.

 

Fall is like that phase three where it’s amazing. Things are working, your hard work’s paying off, you’re able to deliver, you’re reaching goals. You kind of reap the reward for that hard work. And I think of fall as like, I love fall. I love the sound of the leaves, I love watching the colors change, being outside. I love the shift and the change in the season. I notice things, and I’m grateful for things in ways. But the leaves are also starting to die on the trees, and winter’s coming.

 

Right. And after fall, we slip into winter, which is that phase four. And in winter, I just want to sleep and wait for it to pass. It’s cold, it’s dark, I don’t love it. So, I want you to ask yourself, what phase are you in? And be honest. It’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with it. You will never live in one phase, and the goal is not to just live in one phase. We need all of them together to work and to continue to cycle through for us to keep growing and learning and not get stuck.

 

The thing is, as you think about these phases, it’s true for so many things in your life. For product launches, for team org structures, for different leaders, for reaching goals, for different relationships, you have these seasons, and these four cycles are always kind of fluctuating. So, the number one question I get asked is, “Okay, well, that makes sense, but how do I go from winter back into spring?”

 

So, that’s why I want to tell you three things to do if you find yourself in this winter face where you’re just not motivated anymore, you’re not learning and growing. Again, it doesn’t mean it’s this horrible, bad thing, and you don’t appreciate your job, and there aren’t things you still like about it. But if you’re not feeling that pull, that challenge, that growth, we want to do some things to get ourselves through winter and into spring.

 

So, where I live right now, I struggle with winter. The sun sets here at 3:57. Today, I looked it up, 3:57, y’all. My kids aren’t even always home from school from the bus by that point, and it is dark before 4 p.m. It is just dark and cold here. So, there are three things I’d recommend we do to deal with this winter season.

 

The first, I always tell people around where I live, I’m like, “Oh yeah, in February, everyone just needs to have a trip planned, someplace warm.” I love to go to the beach. I love to be out in the sun. Like, you just need to get away from it for a minute to come back and get through the next couple of months of winter before we get to spring. And I think of it the same thing in your job, in your career. If you’re in winter, give yourself a break to go someplace warm. What does that mean? What does that look like?

 

You can take a literal break and a vacation from work. That’s one way. But go someplace warm. Go someplace that’s like that summer, that’s like that phase two for you where you’re learning and growing and trying new things in a way that’s kind of hard and challenging, but also starting to work and progress, press you forward. Go learn something new. Go learn a hobby. Go learn to hone a talent or a skill you have, or learn a particular skill for something in your career field that you’re interested in or something not in your career field that you’re interested in. I’ve had friends that have taken courses on AI and machine learning because they’re my favorite engineers, and they want to learn more about this. And I’m like, “Yes, go do that. Go take a cooking class. Go learn how to play pickleball. Go learn something artistic. Go take a Toastmasters class. A storytelling. Go watch all the YouTube videos and practice your carpentry. Go read books. Go take courses. Go do those things you’ve been telling yourself you want to do and have been putting off. Go do those.”

 

Again, I think it’s helpful if it’s separated from your job and your responsibilities and needing to hit goals. It’s okay if it’s helping your job. I don’t think that’s bad. But give your brain a real problem and some dopamine and some reward and some growth from learning something hard that’s actually working and you have some traction on.

 

Okay, so I call this “take a trip someplace warm.” Go give your brain permission to be in summer, learning some other skill or hobby or tool.

 

The second thing I would suggest if you find yourself in winter to get to spring is to think about spring cleaning. Okay, when we get to spring, we start getting rid of stuff. We de-junk stuff. We clean stuff out from the winter. How can you start doing that now? Make space for new growth. This usually entails giving up some good things for some even better things. Go listen to my podcast episode “10x is Easier Than 2x.” I talk a lot about this, but at a high level, think about what’s that spring cleaning you want to do in your job, in your current job, your current career, so that you can make space for those new things that are going to help grow and motivate you.

 

Stop spending so much time on status updates. We spend so much time with status updates. Just give yourself a time limit, do your best, and move on. My favorite, cancel all reoccurring meetings. And unless half of the people ask for it back, don’t reschedule it. You have permission. Stop working to chase that promotion and trying to make up that next big project that you can lead and use as your big promotion project. Let it go. Let it go. Don’t give up on your promotion, but stop chasing and being obsessed with trying to create that big project. We’re spring cleaning. We’re letting things go. We’re getting rid of things. Okay, get rid of those bad habits. Stop working late. Stop checking your email first thing in the morning, last thing at night. Stop social doom scrolling, whatever those bad habits are. Stop. We’re spring cleaning. We’re in winter. It’s low. It’s dark. It’s cold. It’s okay. We’re just going to stop doing some of those things. I think of this too as like as we transition the seasons, I like put away my winter clothes and bring out my spring and summer clothes. What things are you going to put away for a season, right? Going back to that promotion, we’re not going to stop wanting a promotion, but maybe we’re going to put away chasing it that way we thought we were going to for a little bit and pick it up at another face.

 

I think of as your spring cleaning, Marie Kondo always talks about like pick it up and hold it and ask yourself, does it spark joy? And if not, to get rid of it. It’s the same thing, different aspects of your job and your career and your work environment and your social settings. We’re spring cleaning. Do these things spark joy? And be honest about it. And we want to clean and get rid of those things that aren’t bringing us joy because we got to make space for those new things that are coming.

 

Number three, get clear on what you want to grow in next, right? In spring, we plant all the seeds. We start to see those little seeds come up and start to work. Now that you have space, now that you’ve gotten rid of some of those things that are taking up your time or your mental or emotional capacity, what do we want to fill it with? Choose it on purpose. Your brain is going to tell you to go and plant seeds on things we’ve traditionally been taught, and there’re things around more money and more status and more scope. That’s okay if that’s what you want, but I want you to be honest of what do you really want, like really.

 

Going back to this client I was talking to that said they didn’t like being bored, we were kind of working through these steps and talking about it, and they’re explaining to me they’ve been with this team for a while, and they have a really great um, reputation, and they’re starting to get FaceTime with leaders, and they think they’re on a good path for promotion. And these are all great, wonderful things. I’m like, “Yeah, totally.” But what they really wanted, and what they very hesitantly admitted to me, was something totally different. Entirely different career path, entirely different company to go and do that entirely different next thing they wanted to grow in.

 

And what was fascinating was to watch this client. They were so hesitant and a little nervous to tell me it because saying it out loud makes it a little more real, and they were nervous to do that. Makes total sense. They’re fine. It was a great idea. I was like, “Yes.” But what was amazing is you could immediately see the excitement, the motivation, the drive, this person moving out of winter and into spring as they talked about this thing that they really wanted. And this thing may one day give them all the money and the status and the scope they want.

 

But the way we’ve been taught in Corporate America to keep growing logically, your brain would tell you, “No, stay where you’re currently at and keep growing.” And they could. But that’s, that’s the longer route to get back to summer and fall, to move out, out of winter and into spring. The longer route was to go the way we’ve all been, quote unquote, taught is the right way.

 

What do you really want? Maybe you want to gain some experience in a specific industry or field or work in a specific space. Go get that. Maybe you want to change careers. Maybe you want to work less. Maybe you want a lower stress environment. Maybe you do want to make double the amount of money. Maybe you want to become a manager. Maybe you want to move back to an individual contributor. Maybe you want to to work for yourself. Maybe you want a job where you’re not on call. Maybe you want to work with fun people or work for a cause that you actually believe in and you care about. Maybe you want to enjoy what you have already created. These are just a few ideas, but get really clear on what you want and go plant those seeds.

 

Here’s my head’s up to you. Okay, so we’re moving out of winter. We want to keep going through these cycles. Remember, you’re going into spring next. Okay, we’re moving from winter into spring. It’s exhausting. Don’t forget that. And it feels like it’s not working. Don’t slip back into winter. This is what most of us do. “Well, that feels hard. Where I applied for these five jobs and they said no. Or I tried to switch to this industry and people told me that wasn’t a good idea, that I need to go get this schooling or I’m not qualified, or it’s too hard, or I can’t afford to take the pay cut. Or I’m dumb to give up this promotion that I’m so close to getting.” Whatever it is, you get to do you. But remember where you’re going. It’s exhausting. That means it’s working. Keep going. Push through to summer. The exhausting part means you’re changing and moving forward. Be honest what season you find yourself in. And if you find yourself in this winter season, remember, go take a vacation to someplace warm. Go all in on learning something new. Do some spring cleaning. Make space for new growth.

 

And third, now that you have space, get really clear on what seeds you want to start planting right now so that they start coming into fruition in the next couple of months. We’re not in a rush. We’ve got to plant the seeds and wait for them to grow. But go start planting them right now.

 

All right, y’all. You’re amazing. I hope you have a fabulous week. We’ll talk soon.

 

Hey, wait, real quick before you go. If you’re struggling with bad managers or leaders, listen up. I recently did a workshop talking about the three steps to deal with a bad manager, and it’s gotten so much response and engagement, I’m having a hard time keeping up on replying to people about it. And I want to make sure you get it as well. It’s totally free. There’s zero obligation. Click the link in the show notes or go to lindsaylymanCoaching.com/badmanager and access this workshop to know the three steps to take if you are stuck with a bad manager. You got this. We’ll talk soon.

3 Steps to Deal with a Bad Manager - Free Workshop

Bad leaders cause a lot of churn, constant changes in priorities kill your timelines, and the anxiety from the next unknown escalation is not sustainable.

Learn the proven 3 steps to deal with a bad manager. 

Share this post

Hey, I’m Lindsay Lyman

I spent the last ~12 years growing my career at Amazon. I’ve built teams, launched new products, and created my own jobs. As a certified coach, I teach people how to manage the noise in their head to feel motivated and valued at work again.

Enter your info to get the 3 Steps to Deal With A Bad Manager free workshop

Please read my privacy policy to see I take your privacy seriously.