Boredom is a signal

From the Hawk’s Tale; Boredom is not a state to just wander around in until something else happens to come along to engage your life force. No, it is a prod from a higher source – designed and intended to be an initiator of “new activities and new thoughts.”                            

My friend and mentor wrote a fabulous post about what boredom truly is. It is a signal and one that I have always been aware of and use in my life. When I get bored, I know it is time to change up, learn something, start a project, take a class and most importantly, give back. I also learned that it is a sign that my work is lacking something. I use this concept when I work with people in my role as a vocational counselor and staff developer. I make people look beyond the immediate gratification of a job, or in other words, past the money, and realize how the job will impact the world. Boredom to me is an indicator that my job sucks. I mean this is the fact that it is one way only. It sucks life and does not feed back into this world.

When I was younger, I took a job that some would think was great. I started answering phones and doing customer service and within a year I was in charge of the accounts payable department for a small electronic firm. I was terrible at it because it bored the crap out of me. But I did it because at the time, it paid well. Every month, a stack of invoices would come in; I would process them, check them and then put them into another pile to be paid. Then the owner said yes, and I put them through. Month after month, pile from pile. One day, I had enough, demanded a huge raise, which was not going to happen. I knew what they paid everyone. So I quit. I sat down with a book called “What Color is your Parachute” and figured out that I needed to go into the communication field. Ok…I went back to school and finished two degrees and got a job as a production person at the local cable company in their TV production department. This was early cable. It was exciting for a while…and then after a couple of years, I got bored. I went back to school and landed up running a cable studio and became the Media Relations person for a town where I lived. It was an exciting and rewarding job for years actually. There was always something new to learn. I taught town folk to produce programs about their volunteer efforts. I worked with interns who wanted TV experience and I had an Explorer Post for years.  Then after twelve years, it got boring and I took a chance and got hired as a teacher. I had to finish the degree work I started and I did. I also did a certification and got my teaching license. I taught for a while and I loved teaching, but I hated the politics. I got bored with the futility of the students trying to get ahead only to be misled. So I quit and went and did a really lame job that bored me out of my mind. I only did that for a few months, six to be exact, and quit. I then ended up working with developmentally disabled adults. I loved the work but the job got to be boring so I moved into training and finished my Masters. I then took over the department and became the director. Something told me this was the end of the line at this company after a few years in that role. I quit after finding the job I have now. The best jobs were ones I did not think I could do at first. I took chances when I applied and the newness of the job was always exciting. Eventually, I knew there was something better. Boredom would creep in and it was time to change.

I know so many people who do the same thing for years. We have nurses who have forty years at this company. They are stagnant and bring nothing new to the table. The medical field is constantly changing. Although their experience is extremely valuable, they are also not flexible. They do not get the digital world. When they did home visits, it was all on paper.  I think it is important to stay current in your job skills and embrace the current market. I do not see how anyone could do the same thing for forty years. The joke is they are never there anyways because they have so much vacation and PTO they take, which is true.  It is extremely frustrating and they are holding the company back. Then there are some who are miserable but stay. I had a conversation just today with a high level manager who said she is so bored that she wished the company would fold so she could get out. I was flabbergasted. One, that she would want the agency to fold….big indicator it is time to go…and that she felt so trapped she could not get out on her own. I though how sad that she spends eight hours every day not making a difference and not making herself feel good about what she does.

So now I am to the point I want to make. We have one life. Well, one life at a time. We have a finite amount of time, and we do not know what it is. I am not going to gamble my time and waste it not doing something that is valuable and gives back as much as I get from it. I realized real early on that whatever it is I do, I have to make a difference. Paying someone’s bills did not cut it at all. No way. Working at the cable company was great because I produced programming that was about non-profit groups who had a story to tell. When they cut back on the human interest stuff and went to taping hockey games; that was it for me. I liked teaching people how to make their own videos and TV programs. When that went down the tubes because the cable company was not making money on it, it was time to go. I took a gamble when I applied to be a teacher. Teaching was never boring. Every class, every day was wonderful. Not that I did not have frustrations, but they were not with the students. When I knew my career was going to be squashed because I did not play politically footsies, it was time to go. Even my worse job was for the March of Dimes raising money. But the money does not go where it should and that was horribly disappointing for me. I discovered that three months in and I was done. Working with the guys (developmentally disabled individuals) was the best. I would still be there if it were not for the exploitation of the money that was deemed for their use and was not going to their benefit. But I could not support the administration and their lies. I half-heartedly applied for the job I have and took it because I knew it was a sign. This job makes a difference, but…there was something lacking in my life.

Reading Rising Hawk’s post made me realize how important our time is and that when we get bored, we need to pay attention. I am bored, in a way. It is hard to explain.  I am not in the process of defined learning. I am taking some lessons but I am not in a formal degree program for the first time in 14 years. That is weird for me. I know truly though what is boring me is I do not see an immediate impact on what I do. I do not feel like I am giving anything to the world.  I train clinicians to be better caregivers and leaders. I am the touchy feely to the hard clinical approach that my Lead Preceptor teaches. She teaches cardiac care, I teach heart care. She teaches mission, I teach vision. But I do not always know if I am making a difference. It is all good, and I really love what I do. But I realized as I read what he wrote that the feeling I have is because I do not see a real impact on the immediate world. And I feel like I can do more. I think I found the answer.

As Rising Hawk said: Boredom is a signal. To me being bored is when there is no output of giving. I need to get involved in activities that enable me to grow and at the same time give back something of myself.  We all have choices and I am not saying everyone in the world needs to be as hell bent on growth activities as I am. But you do need to get off your butt if you are bored. If changing your job is not possible: Go volunteer. There are so many things we can do to not be bored that there really is no excuse. Volunteering is a great way to learn and grow while giving back to the world around you. If your job and or life is missing something, or you feel like you are not giving of yourself, which is why you get bored, go find your total realization of life and give back by volunteering.


2 thoughts on “Boredom is a signal

  1. Wonderfully said! And just think of the vast experience that you, personally, have gained by heeding the message of deep boredom. Some would say it is “job-hopping,” or a sign of being unstable/unreliable. Not me – I believe it just means that you have more goodies in your bag, because you have been more places. Sitting still and being “bored” is a good thing when it is done on purpose, to reflect, to re-assess, but when water doesn’t move for a long time it becomes stagnant. Far too many people allow that to happen – a living death. Namaste . . .

Really would like your input.

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