Your work is boring, pointless, and dehumanizing, and you know it.
Over at ArtofManliness.com Brett and Kate McKay write,
We’re not over-burdened, we’re under-challenged. Our potential isn’t being incinerated, it’s going untapped.
Ironically, experiencing too little engagement results in a condition quite similar to experiencing too much of it. Yet what feels like the fatigue of exhaustion is really the malaise of ennui.
While it’s easy to mistake boredom for burnout, the diagnosis matters, as it determines the cure.
The remedy commonly forwarded for burnout is to pare (further) back. Learn to say no.
Yet if the problem is actually boredom, this strategy merely feeds the disease. You wind up with the specter of an individual who’s reduced his life to the bare husk of work and family, and yet still feels completely wiped.
If the problem is actually boredom, then we certainly need to say no to the pointless and soul-sucking; but, we also need to learn to say yes — to seek more of the physically animating, the mentally stimulating, and, most especially, the existentially interesting.
The McKays have gotten a lot of heat for this from people claiming they are just overworked. A lot of folks work VERY long hours, for not enough reward, no question.
If you work physical work for hours and hours to the point you are getting injured and can’t recover, I’m not writing about you.
I’m writing about the rest of you.
I bet I work more than you. Not than every person, but most of them. I’m moving the ball all damned day, until bed time, every day.
I’m not burned out. My work is interesting. It’s for my own benefit. It’s affirming. Again, I’m not burned out, and won’t be.
I’m not bragging, I’m just pointing out that interesting work that is beneficial to us doesn’t burn us out.
We’ve all worked at a hobby, looked up at the clock and realized it was 1am. A lot of us have gone on a vacation only to go back to work to rest. You know it’s true.
Here’s the truth, most work is stupid, pointless, and even confusing. Meetings, TPS reports, HR trainings, etc. It’s horrible, we hate it, it’s BORING and is not life affirming. Stop virtue signaling how “hard you work” with this burnout trope. You hate your job because it’s boring and it’s hateful.
Smart folks used to talk about this state. We used to write about “ennui,” a listlessness because of lack of excitement. Marx wrote about “alienation,” how the work of the worker had no bearing on his life. This leads to disaffection.
Ennui and alienation cause us to hate the job, being trapped in it, we become weary, listless. We start to make mistakes and miss things we wouldn’t have a year ago. It’s not burnout, it’s boredom with modernity.
Instead of beating yourself up (or virtue signaling) about burnout, get mad about the cause.
Modernity, debt, money printing, and globalism makes you spend long hours doing insipid work. Get mad about that.