You know the drill. We started out passionate about our jobs, but as time goes by, we get bored and feel somewhat demotivated to even step into the office. Before you know it, you are mulling if it’s time to quit your job and go in search of greener pastures. Upon reflecting though, there’s not much you can complain about your current role. You love your colleagues, the perks at work, and even your boss. So why quit right? Is it a motivation issue then? “Our brains are not wired for routine and repetition at work,” says Daniel M. Cable, author of Alive at Work: The Neuroscience of Helping Your People Love What They Do. “Disengagement isn’t a motivation problem; it’s a biological one.”
Changing your job might be one of the solutions. However, it isn’t going to work in the long run for you to keep changing your job just because you got bored. Here’s a little more insight as to why we get bored with our jobs and for you to figure out if your job is indeed the issue here.
There is a part of the brain called the ventral striatum, also called the “seeking system,” and its role is to motivate us into being our best self. “This part of our brain urges us from the time we’re babies to explore what we don’t know,” Cable explains. “Little kids can be given an awesome toy with noises and buttons, and they’ll be really into it for a week or few days. Then they find something else that hadn’t seen before, like car keys, and they find that way more interesting. It wasn’t because the thing is cool; it’s because the thing is new.”
When we succumb to these urges, our brain delivers dopamine to reward us and that makes us feel more alive, and the same thing can happen at work, says Cable, currently a professor of organizational behavior at London Business School.
“When we’re in the rut of routine for the 502nd time, this part of the brain shuts off,” says Cable. “Your brain is saying, ‘You’re better than this. We’re not built of this. We’re built for bigger things.’ Then the brain stops the release of dopamine, which makes it seem not only dull but that it takes forever.”
So before you quit a perfectly fine job, do consider the boredom. If you suspect that boredom might be the root cause of your dissatisfaction, you may want to consider staying put and thinking of creative ways to spark passion into your current role again. Even if you do change your job, there’s no guarantee that you won’t get bored at the new job. Every new job or relationship will grow into a comfortable one given time. So, instead of always seeking out new jobs or relationships, we need to learn ways to inject passion into mundane tasks, and learn creative ways to stay interested in our roles.
Monica Leong is a storyteller at heart. Graduated with a Journalism and Public Relations degree, she is currently working in corporate communications and also contributes as a freelance writer and editor. Before entering the corporate world, she worked in female lifestyle magazines such as Marie Claire, CLEO, and PEARL as an editor and a features writer. Monica is passionate about writing and working on a short story and flash fiction anthology.