Several years ago I had the pleasure of speaking at a quarterly meeting of the Association of International Bank Auditors on the subject of Networking Strategies. As you might expect in any gathering of financial folks, several of those in attendance were members of The FENG.
One of the topics that came up during the Q&A part of my session was what do you do if you are bored in your job. Although I was honestly caught a little off guard at the time, upon reflection, it is actually a very good question and one about which we should always be thinking.
Let me start you out with the idea that as educated people we have an inherent need to be constantly learning. During the time we are moving up through the ranks and taking on more and more responsibility, there are clearly skills to be learned each and every day. But what happens when you plateau? What happens when you are no longer growing in your job because there honestly is no job higher than yours in the corporation? Well, I guess you get bored.
Let’s accept the fact that skilled workers at every level who are fully proficient in their responsibilities work for the corporation. You may be finding that there is nothing “new under the sun” on any given day, but the company is thrilled that you are finding this to be the case. Short of finding you asleep at your desk, things couldn’t be working better for them.
Of course, there is always something new to learn every day. It is just that during the middle to end of your career, the RATE of knowledge acquisition is much slower. It is even possible for you to be the victim of not having 10 years of experience, but rather 1 year repeated 10 times.
In the beginning, when we were all young and foolish, there was a closely held belief that the company would take care of us. Early in our careers, many of us worked for “the great corporation” where staff development was a priority. There were formal training and educational programs and you were expected and required to sign up for them. Want to know why? It was in the company’s best interest to educate you so they could “grow their own” senior management.
Now that you are all grown up, you need to gain an appreciation for the fact that practicing your acquired skill set may not take all of the energy you have available on any given day. Or, if it does take all of your energy, it appears to you to be highly repetitive. This is not your imagination. The word we usually use is “I’m bored.”
Before I begin discussing possible cures, let me make clear that the job market at senior levels is very brittle and discontinuous. What I mean is there are often few jobs in your areas of expertise in any geographic area, and the more specialized you are, the less likely that even for jobs that appear to be the same, acceptance of your skill sets may not be there. The discontinuous part is that unlike when you were early in your career, the next step up at your firm or at another firm may be a VERY large step.
Okay, what are some solutions?
First, ask yourself if you aren’t just putting too much of your self-worth into your “job.” If it is indeed possible that you have great talents, have you considered applying some of your energy to others areas of your life? To start at the most important issue, are you devoting enough time to your family and significant other? Perhaps you could break away 2-4 times a month and spend some “quality time” with these important folks. (They are, I can assure you, far more important to you than your company’s welfare.)
Have you considered trying to get involved in your religious organization? If you want a “busman’s holiday” perhaps you can volunteer to be treasurer? Not for profit organizations are always desperate to find quality financial folks who can provide leadership. But, don’t stop there. There are many fine organizations worthy of your time and commitment. Pick one.
Have you considered taking educational courses? Finding a seminar to attend is like shooting fish in a barrel. Your firm most likely would give you time off and pay for it. (Am I appealing to your inner accountant’s or what?) There is also computer training you can take. Are your Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Access skills up to snuff? You will be amazed that one or two pointers in these programs you might be using every day will save you tons of time (that you can plow back into the family), and allow you to impress your co-workers.
There is also education and training that has NOTHING to do with work. (What a concept!) Everything you learn and everything you study makes you a better and more interesting person.
And, less bored and boring. Boring is as boring does. Being bored and feeling bored is a CHOICE you make every day.
If you work at a solution to your feelings of boredom, your friends may very well start calling you “Mr. Excitement.” Quite a turn of events, don’t you think?