Distraction Is a Bored Worker's Best Friend
Question: HELP! I have been in the same job for about 6 years and have the itch to leave and try something new although I know I should be thankful for what I have. How do I get out of a work slump and do good work when I want to spend the day finding a better job? Is it the "grass is greener" mentality or a real time for change?
Answer: The grass isn't greener with jobs we have no interest in. For instance, I have zero desire to be a doctor, lawyer or kindergarten teacher, despite knowing people in these professions far happier than I. The grass only appears greener with jobs that tickle our passion bone and happen to be new. Remember when your current job was new?
New is exiting because it's sexy and foreign—kind of like lingerie. Our current jobs? Stretched-out granny panties. And yet life isn't always one or the other: sometimes raciness is what we seek and sometimes it's comfort.
To figure out what you are most in need of, ask yourself a simple question. If you were to laid off tomorrow with three-months severance, would you be really bummed out or secretly relieved?
If bummed, why? Is it because you'd miss your colleagues? Feel like your work was cut short? Perhaps even mourn what might have been? These reasons alone aren't enough to stay forever, but they do warrant seeing if you can make your situation better.
The best way to improve your situation is to actively distract from it.
Make sure that your supervisor knows you're unhappy and why. Then raise your hand for any and every new project that comes down the pike. Start a new hobby outside of work that's so all-consuming that it will make your normal working hours feel like a pleasant respite. Meanwhile, dust off your resume and start looking for new jobs. If the pain of job hunting and interviewing doesn't remind you of what's good about your current role, nothing will.
Six months down the road, you'll either have a better job or cool new projects to show for it. Perhaps even both.
Which brings me to the other scenario. If any part of you would breath a sigh of relief to be laid off, then you're hedging. You're only staying where you are because you're unsure which direction to head in next. With fear and uncertainty the only things keeping you, it's definitely time to move on. Go through the distraction steps listed above but double-down on the the job hunt and don't stop until you've found something new.