I love my job. But here’s the shocking part… I even love it on Mondays.
I know, from the very scientific research of living in this world, just how rare that is. And luckily, really – I mean, what else would we talk about in office elevators if not for how tired and busy we are? How would we keep our basic math skills sharp without practicing days-to-Friday subtraction? But distribute that math over a lifetime: dreading Mon-Thur every week means you are miserable more than half of your life. (Add in hating winter? Now you are down to a max of 3 days a week, three-quarters of the year… 117 days per year or less than one-third of your life!) If you work full-time from age 22 to 66, you will have spent close to 14,000 days wishing it was the weekend. Living for Friday is like slamming your foot on the accelerator of life – you will look back and wonder what all you missed along those roads (if you’re lucky enough not to crash into anything first).
You cannot live for the weekends. You cannot wrap up your happiness in how often you get to turn the alarm clock off. We tend to harbor a latent desire to be free of responsibilities – that our lives would be perfect if we had nothing to do every day – but this is false. Of the people I know who have found themselves in this position (by choice or accident) none truly enjoy it. We tell ourselves lies; if we had all the time in the world, we would become gourmet chefs, crafters, runners, readers – that we would fill unencumbered hours with activities of value – and then we would be happy. But have you noticed that the busiest corporate executives are often athletes and the craftiest women are usually mothers to hoards of children? What we don’t account for is inertia. The concept that an object in motion will stay in motion – an object at rest will stay at rest. The pattern of responsibility, of obligation, of getting out of bed and out the door – that is what propels us forward at the (yes, terrifying!) speed of life. We need this. The fact that you have to work is a blessing. The gift that you are able to work is precious. And the miracle of combining both of those characteristics with actually having a job is priceless. That so many of us manage to turn these things into curses, into the bane of our existence – well, it is rather incredible.
You may not love your job – that’s an issue for another time. But how can you take your current situation and learn to live for Monday (and Tuesday and Wednesday and…)?
Turn off the TV. Seriously. You’ve heard this, all of it – how it over-stimulates your brain, that the blue light throws off your circadian rhythms, that it’s addictive and makes you lazy – but it’s different for you. You deserve the downtime, you need to unwind, you don’t watch “that much”, etc. I have a secret for you – all that research is being done on people exactly like you. Believing otherwise is an assortment of lies we tell ourselves. It’s our ever-increasing need to be mindlessly stimulated, masquerading as a “deserved” break. Want to know the best way to unwind? Quietly. In your bed. No one has ever been made the worse for getting to bed earlier. If I was marketing a supplement that would make you healthier, smarter, more productive, look younger, and have more energy, you would take it in a heartbeat. And look, you can have all this (scientifically-proven) for just … well, free! Go to bed. Get as much sleep as possible before midnight – it’s better for you. If you must, watch your recorded TV in the AM before work (while you eat a relaxing and nourishing breakfast instead of chugging a 5-hour in the car!). Once you’re getting to bed at a regular hour, you’re going to get up earlier anyways. What percentage of your Monday dread comes from the struggle to get up early?
2. Additionally, make sleep a routine.
This is the single most significant change I made in my own life. Get up at the same time every day – even weekends. Even if it means getting home at 2am, waking at 6am and taking a nap at 8am. Train yourself to wake up and get out of bed at the same time every day.
3. Make time for what you love.
If you were trapped under an avalanche and had to dig yourself out, you wouldn’t take breaks to scroll Twitter or play Candy Crush. You have more time than you think you do. Make your hobbies a priority.
4. Make “exciting” part of your routine.
What do you look forward to? Schedule it. Monday yoga, Tuesday movie night, Wednesday skype date with a far-away friend or family member, Thursday happy hour. Have something to look forward to every night of the week. It doesn’t have to be lengthy. If Wednesday night is your day to clean your apartment or pay bills, follow it up with a glass of wine and a bubble bath. Really missing the TV binges you gave up in favor of #1 above? Give yourself one night a week to kick back and get caught up. Make sure every morning when you wake up, you have something about the day to look forward to. Break up the monotony of commute/work/commute/bed/repeat.
5. Work at work.
I know, it sounds groundbreaking. The amount of slacking/procrastinating/”delegating” and generally avoiding responsibilities in the corporate world is astounding. You are happier when you’re busy. Science has proven it, I have proven it, and yes, even YOU have proven it – time goes faster when you’re immersed. You may not love the task, but you’ll love having it off your list. Why let it hang over your head longer than it has to? The faster you dive in when you get to work, the faster the dreaded tasks are off your list, and before you know it you’ll be out the door and on to the post-work exciting activity you already scheduled. Not to mention, likely also well on your way to promotions, raises, and other positive side-effects of your increased efficiency and newly positive attitude!
Easier said than done? Maybe – but I’m speaking from experience. These are things I’ve “said” only because I’ve already done them. Think you don’t have time? I know the feeling. I work full-time, run an additional business on the side, am a distance runner and musician, and recently fully renovated a house. Remember #2? You have more time than you think. Spend less of it focused on what you dread, and more on doing what you love.
Thinking these suggestions are overly optimistic? Too simplistic? I invite you to prove me wrong. Take a small chunk of time (can’t commit to a week? 3 days will work) and institute the items here that seem the hardest. Give up television, social media, and yes – even Candy Crush. Fill that time with whatever you want. Take a yoga class, meet friends for coffee, play a board game. Go to bed at a decent hour. Then let me know how it goes. What do you have to lose? The way I see it, you’re gambling with 14,000 days as it is. I’ll take that bet – ready to go all in?