Around 18 months ago, the idea of working from home full-time was not an option for many people. However, last year it became our reality. Suddenly we had to adjust to new ways of working. We had to make space at home to work in the same way or as close to how we would in the office.
The world didn’t stop, we showed that it could in fact be done. But it happened because we were forced to rather than companies allowing it or wanting it to happen.
And now, as we get closer to getting ‘back to normal’, a lot of companies want the traditional ways of the 9-5 to return. However, many employees have adjusted to the new way of life and don’t want to go back.
They now save time and money spent on their journeys into work, are less likely to buy lunch, have more flexibility over how they spend their day and more.
For others, working from home may have brought less routine, more distractions, less productivity and a loss of culture/community.
I don’t think it’s a case of picking working from home or from the office but instead acknowledging that both options can work well and then finding a new way.
We don’t need to just go back to the way things were but we don’t need to totally abandon the office.
When making a decision you might find yourself making a pros and cons list.
The choice you make in the end is likely to be based on whether the cons make the benefits worth it.
But sometimes we focus too much on the short-term. Making a particular decision might be great right now, great in 6 months and even great in a year. However, in 2 years or 5 years it will end up being something you regret.
Or, perhaps we allow short-term pros to outweigh long-term cons.
It could be taking a job where you earn way more money but isn’t in a field you want to progress in. Maybe the alternative was a job in the field you’re interested in but you passed it up because the salary is lower and the commute is longer.
In the short-term you’re earning more money and you’re journey to work is shorter. But in the long-term you’re progressing in a job you don’t want to be in which probably means you’re not as happy as you could be.
On the flipside, if you’d chosen the other job in the short-term you’re salary would be lower and your commute would be longer. However in the long-term, your salary will increase, you’re progressing in field you’re interested in, you may choose to move closer to work and have a shorter commute or perhaps you now work from home 2 or 3 days a week and best of all you’re happier.
For when your 9to5 starts to feel a little blah…
Work with what you’ve got
Find a way to bring more to what you’re already doing, how can you make it more interesting or do it better? When you’re giving your day to day tasks the bare minimum it’s no wonder you don’t feel good about them. It might help to think about the bigger picture, the contribution you’re making or why you went for the role in the first place.
Speak to people
Ask who needs help on a current project and let people know to keep you in mind for anything they have coming up in the future. Talk to your manager and let them know how you feel (maybe use stagnant or rut instead) and ask them for advice.
There’s a quote from a book called Linchpin that really struck a chord with me ‘You think your boss won’t let you, at the very same moment that your boss can’t understand why you won’t contribute more insight or enthusiasm.’ You might think there’s no opportunity for growth and newness in your current role but your manager might be waiting for you to let them know so they can help.
Look for a new job
Maybe the reason you feel bored is because you don’t want to be there. Luckily for you you don’t have to stay. A lot of people end up spending half a decade in a job that was meant to be a stop gap. It’s fine to stay longer than planned if you’re happy with where you’re at but don’t let laziness, familiarity and fear of fresh starts keep you stagnant.
I’d advise starting at the top and working your way down.
I recently came across a short story that got me thinking about the way that we live. The gist of the story was that other people will try to convince us that instead of living a simple life that we are happy with now, we should be working hard so that we can live a simple life that we are happy with later.
We’re told that we should chase money and success until we can chase no more then we should settle down and enjoy life, finally reaping the rewards of our hard work.
But what if you could enjoy life right now.
Many people want a simple life but they’re taught that it’s not enough, they’re told that they should want more. And so they they sacrifice internal happiness for external validation and then they end up on a path that they don’t truly want to be on. But they plough on and on with the hopes that one day they can break free and live life the way they always wanted to. Often that time is retirement when you’re no longer required to work.
But if all you want to do is live in a little house by the coast and grow food and flowers in your back garden, why wait until you retire. Why not do it now instead of later?
It’s more important than you might have considered.
When it comes to your opinions, beliefs and life plans, you have to be willing to change your mind.
You never want to be so set in your ways that you close yourself off to other options.
Sometimes when you’re so committed to what you know, it feels too difficult (or requires more effort than you’re willing to give) to change your mind. And so you hide away from information that could change your perception.
Or maybe you hide away from learning about what you could do to change your life path. You do this because once you know it’s possible for things to be better you’ll end up miserable if you never do anything about it. Yet you end up staying stagnant because you’re not willing to change your mind about the path you want to be on.
Change comes with risk and sometimes we choose security or familiarity over happiness.
When you’re a kid, not learning in a lesson or not being interetsed in the subject or topic being taught can happen when you don’t like the person teaching you.
At a young age some people totally rule out subjects like Math, Science, History or Art simple because of who the information is coming from.
But when you get older, when you’re at the age where you’ve picked the subject that you study you focus much less on who is teaching you because the stakes are higher and you’re choosing to be there.
In England you choose your GCSE subjects at 13, you’re A-levels at 15 and your Degree at 17. By the time you get to University, so much has changed. You’re studying something that you have picked for yourself and you’re now paying to be there.
When you’re 12 and don’t like your History teacher, don’t pay attention and perform poorly in class you can always say ‘Well, I don’t even care about this class, it’s boring’. Not much happens as a result of you getting a low grade when you’re 12. You have to be in school because it’s the law however, it’s free.
Now let’s skip forward to being 19 and doing a Civil Engineering degree. If you choose to not pay attention because you don’t like your Structural Engineering lecturer no one is going to force you to listen or make an effort.
But you could end up failing the module or even therefore failing the course overall. This might mean you have to resit an exam or you could end up changing your entire career plans. Nobody had to go to university, it’s a choice and it costs around £9000 every year.
The older you get, the less it matters who the information is coming from because you realise that it shouldn’t have really mattered in the first place. Overtime, you also realise that your end goal will always be so much more than the room you’re sitting in, the module you’re learning or even the course you’ve chosen to study.
It’s getting to that time of year when the Out of office goes on with an automatic reply that goes something like:
‘ Hi, I am currently on leave until 4th January and will respond upon my return. If urgent please contact email@example.com in my absence.’
However, for daily blogging there is no break or time off unless posts are pre-written in advance.
And sometimes that can be challenging when you want time to plan what direction to take things in the future or just want to take a break.
There is no out of office for daily blogging and once you start you commit to never being able to take time off.
It can feel daunting but it isn’t all bad because there is so much to gain from committing to a writing practice every single day.
When it comes to future plans we often forget the reason behind the paths we choose.
We know what we want, when we want it and what it will take but we forget the reason why we want it.
A common example is career paths. A person may want to become a nurse in the next 3 years after they complete studying which will require time, effort, patience and dedication.
The reason the person wants to pursue that particular path, may have once been clear but now is somewhat of a mystery.
It’s only until something happens that this person then remembers that it is because they want to help people. Or maybe, when they were younger a nurse took care of them and they decided that they wanted to be able to do that for other people.
If we now take it back to more general ‘future plans’, I think knowing why you want to do something is important. It could be travel plans, moving to a new country or trying a new activity. Sometimes even though we know what we want to do we get complacent and put things off . And so knowing what to do is often not enough for you to get things done.
However, knowing why you want to do something gives you a pretty good reason to do it.
In a recent conversation where two people were giving career advice, I noticed a wide gap between their perspectives.
The first person spoke about doing something you were interested in, gaining a qualification and working hard to be a specialist in your field.
The second person just spoke about picking a career in a field where jobs were widely available.
The first person was focused on achievent whilst the second was focused on fear.
Based on the kind of life that I want, if I had to pick one of the two pieces of advice, I’d go with the first persons.
As much as stability is important so is enjoying (or at least liking) what you do.
Most of us have at some point looked back on our life and perhaps not wished but thought about what would have happened if we took a different path.
If you applied for that job in another city.
If you moved out of your family home sooner or maybe done it later.
If you started that project when you first had the idea instead of sitting on it for months.
If you didn’t settle for what the people around you told you to do for a career.
If you hadn’t been willing to accept so little from the people around you.
When you’re not happy with where you’re at, looking back on the choices you’ve made will rarely make you happier. But you do it because you feel like it’s too late to start over.
It might not be true but that’s how it often feels.
When you’ve set yourself up on a particular path, starting over and changing the course of your life feels too risky. It feels like all that came before was time wasted.
But if you want to give yourself the opportunity to be happier and more fulfilled, then perhaps starting over might be one of the best things you can do for yourself.