When talking about helping people with a bore-out, I am regularly interrupted in the middle of my story. Did I perhaps mean a burn-out? Once again, this proves: the burnout is a hot item, the bore-out is unknown – and possibly even unpopular. Why is this?

Achievement-driven society

In our society, attributes such as hard work, ambition and targets are greatly valued. Philosopher René Gude referred to this as a ‘sportified’ society: “Sport terms are penetrating our daily life. We can find flashing scoreboards in all corners of society. Polls and rankings are tripping over each another in order to prove their worth” (Gude, 2014). Not hard to imagine why so many people are flaking out in such a society, right?

Our achievement-driven society causes the succumbing to overly high pressure (as is the case for burn-out) to appear rather sympathetic. Someone worked enormously hard and has shown true work ethic – which is something that you, in a way, score points with.

To a bore-out, we attach a completely different picture: one of boredom and under-loading, something that we have a lot less understanding for. Even better: it is seen as a ‘luxury problem’. Because really, how harmful could boredom possibly be? Many of us wish that we would be bored, for once!

Bore-out is not a luxury problem

It is the most common misunderstanding surrounding the bore-out: that someone, per definition, has too little to do. This is a very one-sided view. It might be a cause: I know of a case in which someone got a bore-out because her company did not get enough new assignments for an extended period of time. But this is definitely not always the case! When talking about bore-outs, I therefore want to be quick to emphasise that it concerns inner boredom. You can have plenty of work and still get bored, because the work itself is not appealing to your talents, interests and qualities. Therefore, you cannot put enough of yourself in the work, you are not doing the things that you really want to do, and you lose the connection. The lack of real involvement eventually leads to a continuous increase in boredom. And that can be nerve-wracking!

More attention for bore-out

It is about time that we start paying attention to and acknowledging bore-out. Why? At least 7% of employees suffer from a bore-out (Source: Tedeschi, 2015, Swinnen, 2016). A faster recognition of this group by the employer means that we can more quickly adapt to it. It is not only better for the health of our employees, but it also prevents unnecessary absence or loss of productivity for the organization.

On top of that, more attention for bore-outs leads to people detecting the symptoms more quickly. When I started losing the connection to my work, about 3 years ago, I had never heard of the term bore-out before. The consequence was that I had to thoroughly research what this thing was that was haunting me, and where I had to look in order to find a solution. Now, I am grateful for this – as it allowed me to explore the theme of joy at work, and led to bore-out becoming my specialization. However, at that point in time, all I wanted to do was find a solution as soon as possible, and not knowing the term bore-out, didn’t really help…

Your passions and talents as compass

The bore-out also exposes a societal problem. The fact that there are so many people performing a job that might offer them security, but does not directly connect to their own passions or talents, must be rooted in something larger. In our society, we greatly value security. As a result of this, many people make practical choices. Completely understandable: did we ever learn – at school, for example – to fully explore our dreams? Was there ever any attention paid to how to further develop our talents? Or have we learned to reflect on our own needs and values, when it comes to work? For the majority of us, the answer will be a resounding ‘no’. Therefore, many of us do not have an internal compass to rely on when sailing the rocky roads of our (career) choices. Then, how can we be expected to find work that seamlessly fits our passions and capacities?

Signal to society

The existence of the bore-out is therefore a signal to the society as well. We are allowed to question: does our education offer enough possibilities for people to learn to know themselves and to develop their own talents? Within organisations, does the obtaining of results go hand in hand with the personal development and needs of employees? And, last but not least: do we, as humans, feel sufficiently connected to one another, enough to openly discuss our passions and talents, and ask each other for help in thinking out our career path?

It is my mission to give bore-out the attention that it deserves, and help people that are dealing with it on their way to more joy at work. Would you like to read more about the bore-out, then have a look right here.

Were you already familiar with the term bore-out? Have you ever mapped out what your passions and talents are? Or is there sufficient attention paid to this at your work? Leave a message below!

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