How to Know If Your Job Is Making You Dormant

In my book, I refer to a woman who attended one of my workshops.

She spoke of the regret she felt at not having taken a new role she had been offered. It meant a longer commute and longer hours for her children in childcare. She anticipated the hardship of these two things. 

She also acknowledged her fear of being successful in the role, and what that success might bring. So, she stayed put.  She held this position for a long time. She liked her colleagues but the job had lost its challenge. To quote her:

“Work for me now is like watching a boring movie. I’m biding my time each day until it’s over and knowing these are hours of my life, I will never get back…”

I feel deflated every time I read that quote. I know I'm not the only one. Hers is one of the case studies people comment on most when they've read the book.

Regret theory suggests that we anticipate regret about some choices. We try to mitigate against future regrets. When we can’t do so, we may self-criticise - thinking we should have been able to predict that we would feel this way. The theory is documented by Loomes and Sugden, among others.

Yet, it's not only about regret. Sometimes, it's the feeling of not knowing. How do I know if I'm tired of my job? Am I simply being churlish? First world problems and all...

Katharine Brooks covers this in her article for Psychology Today. Brooks encourages us to make two lists - Who Am I and Who Am I At Work.

Brooks gives helpful advice about making the two lists and unpacking the exercise. Themes emerge that can tell us more about the traits and behaviours we see in ourselves, in life and at work. The dissonance between these is important to see in the cold light of day. 

What's missing from Brooks' article, is how other people see us. It's not the focus of her article, so fair play.

In the diagnostic I covered in my last blog, I described the state of dormancy in our careers. When we are dormant, we notice these things, and so do those people around us. These things are hard to hide, let's face it! 

  • limited or restricted growth

  • fighting change

  • cynical

  • can do the job easily, but underperforming

Being dormant at work might well feel like watching a boring movie, and noticing hours of your life slip by. Just like the woman in my case study.

Brooks' article is helpful, and worth reading if you feel this way. I encourage you to do the exercise

In my diagnostic, I have listed some questions you might find revealing too. These will help you uncover the behaviours others might be seeing. It's also a handy way to find out if your job is still the right fit for you. If you'd like to try it, contact me confidentially to ask for a copy here. I'll be in touch to see how you found it.

Lacey Yeomans