Olivia (*) is a highly talented legal and compliance executive who lacked a sense of belonging in her job. When she entered this firm a little under a year ago, she was fully fired up to bring their compliance files from a dark cellar into the 21st century. However… all her efforts proved in vain. Her talents were neglected, her advice ignored and a sense of boredom hit her like a brick.
Surely there was more to (corporate) life than this?
A feeling of “it is them or is it me” kept lurking in her head. Day in day out. At times she wanted to respond to that little voice whispering ‘get out’. But could she really walk out of this office after just a year?
Blast From the Burn-Out Past
Olivia had once fallen victim to a burn-out. As many A-types, her sense of commitment drove her to always say Yes. To always start early, stay late, push through. Until one day she broke down completely. During her recovery she had learned a lot about not loading up too much work anymore. Olivia however still had a very strong sense of not complaining and pushing through no matter what. But what was this feeling that caused her not wanting to to go work? Could it possibly be a… bore-out?
She had read about it once or twice. Underused, underwhelmed – surely that was not as dangerous as being overstretched? It seemed a lot less bad than burnout. Yeah. Less bad. If she would just sit still… but her head was virtually hitting a wall every time her colleagues looked at her with disbelief. Unwilling to follow her advice. Unable to meet her at her level of competence. Olivia found herself gasping. Yawning. Getting more tired and irritable every day. She called me – would I be able to help?
Name It to Claim It
As a first step, I helped Olivia name and thus claim traits that indicate she had fallen into a boredom hole. She was continuously tired, dreaded the mere thought of going to work, did not know how to make it through her office-days without feeling useless at least once every 10 minutes. Olivia kept a diary for a week to see how she felt (both at home and at the office) and how she reacted to these feelings. After this week, there was a clear pattern of: Bored. Tired. Bored. Irritated. Bored. Frustrated. Bored. You get the picture. And so did Olivia. The bore-out did not only hit her during the 9 to 5. It also affected her family-life. She found little or no joy in interacting with her partner and daughter anymore . Found it hard to stay up past her daughter’s bedtime. Only to lay awake until the wee early hours.
Surely, even a zombie feels more lively!
Olivia drew the conclusion: I am suffering from a bore-out.
Bore-out vs Burn-out
From there we played a bore-out vs burn-out comparison game. There is no better or worse here – both conditions are equally bad for your body, mind and soul (and your relationships!).
Whenever the thought of work either makes your blood pressure jump sky high or puts you in a state of “whatever”, it means you are off center.
You will have lost your sense of flow.
Yes, everybody encounters short periods of either working too hard or too little – that is normal in any working situation. But when there is no center point, no balance, no feeling whatsoever of belonging? When you feel like you would make a great addition to the cast of Return of the Living Dead? Wake up and ACT.
Stop shaking your head in disbelief (yes I am not just smart with words, but also rather clairvoyant). It will not take you years and years of therapy, wondering if your parents ruined you for life by giving you a red bike in stead of a blue one. It will take little more than daring to wake up, following a few easy steps and most of all, trusting your gut.
Step by Step Bit by Bit
[listen to that catchy Whitney Houston tune in your head – yes you may dance]
Having overcome the “bore-out is not that bad” hurdle, Olivia was ready for the next step on the road from boredom to brilliance.
Change dear audience is not a yeah yeah yeah bungee-jump, it is a step by step process. Like everything in nature. We do not land in a bore-out overnight. It often takes years before we realise that we are living in bore-out land. Luckily it will not take us years to move out of there. Olivia chose to first see if she could make her current working environment work better for her. She talked to management in an attempt to come to a clear division of tasks and responsibilities. Engaged in new projects. Arranged to work from home more. Yet as time progressed, it became obvious that the firm could not match up to Olivia’s talents and high level of energy. So it was time for the final step: seek and find a new job.
ONLY upon a clear assessment of what Olivia truly needed (for else, she would bring her old mindset into a new office which would certainly lead to a new bore-out within a short time). Olivia analysed what she loved about her job, what made her heart beat outside the office, in which areas she felt she could still grow. Voila a neat profile for a new job was created.
The Great Escape
Armed with a clear picture of what she wanted in a new job, Olivia started to speak to people in her network. Not just those working in potential new firms. Anyone who could shed a light on new possibilities was invited to a luscious lunch. Which proved a recipe for success. Sooner than she could have imagined herself, Olivia received an offer which she could have, but chose not to refuse. During the various interviews, Olivia had gotten a clear picture of the actual workload, growth possibilities, room to manoeuvre. Olivia jumped ship – and has not looked back since. Happily flowing along the lines of a career path she paved for herself.
From Boredom to Brilliance – are you ready from some serious roadworks? If so, sign up for my Boredom Busters Newsletter.
Stay tuned for details on The Corporate Zombie Make-Over Part 1 – the Awakening.
(*Olivia in real life is way hotter than Popeye’s girl. She will hang out with us under her real name in The Corporate Zombie Hangout Facebook Group)