Why We Believe Work Is Boring, Why Is It Wrong To Think So and How to Fix It
A lot of us get bored with work. But we think that it is okay to get bored at our jobs and we continue working. In this article I unfurl why we expect work to be boring, why it shouldn’t be, and how does this belief harms us.
Why Do We Think That Being Bored With Work Is Normal
We always say that work is supposed to be boring — because adults separate the idea of fun and work early on for us.
Since childhood, we are trained to think that work sucks. We are told that we should play all we want for we would have to work one day. We see elders going to their jobs, but they don’t seem to have fun — they say that work is something they have to do even if they get bored at work and don’t enjoy it.
No one ever mentions having a good time as part of a profession/job, and we start believing that work is a dull thing grown-ups do to earn money(the more the better) irrespective of how they feel about their profession.
Now no one can ever enjoy 100% of her work 365 days a year(I’m happy if you do) but the problem arises when we are mostly bored of work and do what we do to only get money.
We witness enough close people following the idea that work is boring.
My father opened his shop every day of the week except Tuesdays. He never complained about his business, but he never cared if he enjoyed his work or not. He was only concerned about making enough to raise his family. Our teachers, relatives, elder siblings all seemed to pursue a career to earn at their maximum potential.
Fun was never discussed in the context of work and even frowned upon. In his book Le Petite Prince, the French philosopher Antoine de Saint-Exupéry raises similar thought-provoking questions about adults keeping their matters of consequence disjoint from (and above) fun.
You want to work or all you want to do is have fun? Someone would say when we created a game out of a mathematics problem.
From our younger years to adulthood, we grow up concreting the idea that something we enjoy can’t become our career.
But this isn’t true. Let me tell you why.
Why Work Doesn’t Have to be Boring
There are successful people who relish their work. Gates, Musks, Geres, Bezos, Allisons, Buffets, Jobs, Hitchcocks, Einsteins, Kings all talk(ed) about their job as if they are(were) drunk on some love potion — setting perfect examples that excellence pursues passion, you may also call it a real interest in work, (and perseverance).
These are highly successful people and some might even call them outliers. But even if we look at the lower podium of eminent people — product managers, regional artists, small-business people, farm owners, popular store owners of a city—we see that they all have a genuine interest in their work and enjoy doing it.
Since successful people are generally outnumbered by the ones who believe work cannot be fun, their ideas overshadow the triumphant lives. People nearby even warn us from dreaming big for they are scared of dreams.
She thinks she would be the next Larry Allison. Spending all her time designing those damn storage structures.
While it does you no good to think that your family name would be part of that fleshy list of Gates and Musks, it is true that when you give your hundred percent to something consistently, even you don’t know the possibilities. And you can only put in your best if you have fun at what you do. Or to say simply, how much effort would you put in when you are bored out of your mind at work?
Do what you love and love what you do. If you enjoy your work, you would be good at it. If you don’t do what you like, you would get bored from work and cut corners, and your work wouldn’t flourish as much as it could.
Work is not supposed to be boring — is the preamble to producing great work.
How Does the Belief “Work Is So Boring” Harms Us
When people give in to the belief that being bored at work is normal or that work sucks, they put their head down to work and never try to improve their professional circumstances.
We are supposed to hate work is such a ubiquitous lie that people believe this idea even if they find it unbearable. In a discussion about why job is boring, a participant Daziestar says, “It’s that attitude of, work is supposed to suck that drives me to depression.”
Daziestar is not alone. Any of us — who spend at least 80,000 hours of our life working — can be depressed by the idea of not enjoying the job at hand. Some students even end their lives due to forced career choices¹.
Most of us live from weekend to weekend squeezing in the things we like to do in two days. During my corporate years, as the sun started setting on Sunday, I would become agitated and sad, as if I was going through a tragedy. But Friday evenings felt like Deepawali.
Presentations, meetings, reports seem so tedious that we can’t wait to get back home at the end of the day. But then dawn comes, and we have to do it all over again. Greece vacations bring meaning to our lives, but post-vacation depressions are prolonged.
Promotions, offsites, hefty bonuses come along with happiness but they are soon dispersed by more work responsibilities that we don’t enjoy — and not all of us are lazy or are trying to avoid work.
We stay unsatisfied, and thus, unhappy. Some of us who are better compromisers and more determined push the possibility of joy from work out of sight and keep our head down for we think that is the only way. But inside we still feel unfulfilled and idealize famous and successful people or passion pursuers.
Even Kardashians seem like the guiding lights.
The boredom at work and our unhappiness with it is also reflected in our performance. We rarely give our hundred percent and mostly never achieve striking results. And this vicious cycle of comprised engagement and results continue.
The disappointment from our profession spills over into our personal life, too. So our work, personal lives, and relationships — all suffer. ( Do read this guide to enlighten your personal awareness and growth.)
The perception of the society that fun is insoluble in work and our manifestation of the belief leave most of us sad. We conclude that life isn’t fair.
But we don’t have to linger in the abysmal depths of boredom. At least those of us who have (good) education or a passion worthy to be followed or the resolve to build desirable skills can look at the world from behind a cleaner glass.
Find more personal improvement ideas here.
What should you do if you feel bored at work all the time or want to follow a passion or don’t even know your passion?
Below are the follow up write-ups that aim to answer each of the above questions. I have divided the topics into separate articles as each individual theme comes with its own plethora of ideas and possibilities.
- How to Find Your Passions – Discover, Test, and Pursue
- What to Do If You Don’t Have a Passion
- My Journey of Quitting My Job to Write
- Read this on days you don’t want to work (if you chosen a career path of your choice)
- And this one to see why we need to go on despite of the hardships to achieve anything
I was going through an extreme boredom at work for years. But in spite of everyone telling me that jobs are always boring and we get used to the system, I decided I would not spend my life doing something in which neither I found joy nor meaning.
These pieces are an effort to inform others that with considerable efforts we all can create a lovable career. Hope you find them useful.
Do you think work can’t be fun? Are you wondering what to do when bored at work? Tell me in the comments.
1. In 2014, amongst the 8032 student suicides, only 30 percent could be attributed to a failure in exams. The rest of the students killed themselves due to forced career choices, poor education systems, high cut-offs, etc. Read more here.
2. I am thankful to Paul Graham for his essay Love that inspired me while I was preparing my own ideas on why work shouldn’t be boring.
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