Ban Sunday or Live for Monday?

Thoughts on why Sundays can suck sometimes (and how to reframe it to make them suck less).

Ban Sunday?

Ahh Sundays. The last moments of rest slip into the ether before the manic-depressiveness of the week ahead.

I was digesting my Sunday paper (aka my instapaper feed on the ol’ iPad) between sips of coffee and reflective conversations with my wife and our house-guest Josh. I came across this essay at Five O’Clock mag. This is David Infante’s take on these feelings of “imprecise malaise borne of the quivering uncertainty,” – or what our family calls, the Sunday “tummy-yuckies.” Here’s David:

“Monday’s misery is easy. It’s emails that don’t stop, treadmills that won’t start, commutes that never end. I can comprehend Mondays, and I can beat them. But I don’t understand Sunday’s anguish. How can I defeat something I don’t understand? So no matter how many Mondays I meet head-on, six days later I’ll slide headfirst into the hazy slough of Sunday despond. I’ll skate through apprehensively, wondering how I got there, and what “there” even is. It could be thebooze, or the exhaustion, or the creeping awareness that my twenties are on the wane. It could be all of those things, or none of them…

Sunday is uncertain. There’s something just over the horizon, hidden equally by the curvature of the earth and the plodding second hand on your watch. At this cusp, vacuous musings gather speed and become vast existential crises, then fracture back to mundane slivers just as quickly…”

David Infante’s religious abolitionism aside, he puts to words – albeit a bit melodramatically at times – the dreadful feelings too many of us associate with the Sabbath….

But what is it that makes us see Sundays as “the hospital bed we lay in each week, reflecting on a life lived in six days while preparing to do it all over again”?

TGIM – Thank God It’s Monday

I think there’s another way.

Another way that I’ve gotten a taste of from time to time. A taste of anticipation and excitement and expectancy of possibilities and work to be done in the week ahead. And yet the Sunday tummy-yuckies still show up and need to be actively exorcised in order to maintain sanity and do the work we are called to.

One gent I follow on the interwebz is a guy named Barrett Brooks. Who built – among other noteworthy projects – an online community called Living For Monday. In a thought provoking TEDx talk he gave at UGA, he said:

“It’s time to change the way we think about work from a mindset of TGIF, where we thank god it’s Friday and count down the hours to 5 o’clock, to one of living for Monday. And it turns out that this isn’t some pie in the sky idea; there are real people showing up to work engaged and inspired every week.”

While Living for Monday is no longer operating, the foundational questions they were living was extremely powerful – How do we shift our mindsets associated with the work we pursue from a ‘thank-god-it’s-Friday’ attitude to a ‘Freak Yeah It’s Monday!’ and crush the Sunday tummy-yuckies once and for all?

In fact he has some interesting perspectives on the matter to be continually inspired by the work that we do.

He exhorts us to do work based on our beliefs, have a growth-mindset and focus on getting better everyday (kaizen for all you Japanophiles out there), and surround yourself with great people.

As my experience would have it, I agree 100% with those suggestions. Especially the community and accountability bit of keeping great company in the form of mentors and accountability/mastermind groups (formal or informal).

All I would add is to slow down and connect with ‘why’ and the original calling.

As Barrett points out, your work becomes inspiring when it aligns with your personal/professional goals and your personal beliefs and values. (And if it doesn’t align with any of these, then maybe it’s time for a change. But that’s a different conversation for a different day). We must be clear about this goals and beliefs and values before we look for work to be motivating.

At the end of the day, our work is central to our original calling. The original command “to subdue the earth.” This means compose music, engineer computer programs, balance balance sheets, build skyscrapers, and scrub toilets.

In other words – do the dignified work your hands find to do. The work we can’t help but doing as human beings. Even if it’s not the grandest or sexiest or fun-est or inspiring-ist work you can think of. (P.S. The grass is always going to look greener when doing the grunt work)

In some ways focusing on this original call can be enough, in and of itself. This is piggybacks on Barrett’s second point of cultivating the growth mindset – we must pause, meditate on, and reframe our work in it’s toughest, messiest, or most mind-numbing moments (usually the Sunday afternoon moments), in order to view work as our original call.

To view your work – regardless of how passionate you may feel about it in the moment – as God-honoring. To view appropriately as your ministry; your offering to God and others.

I used to think that professional work was somehow second-rate to full-time ministry. That somehow I would get wow-points or be closer to God by going into full-time ministry. But I’ve come to realize Jesus is about all-world missions, and I doubt he saw any distinction between the work of the tax collector and the work of the evangelist. It is all God-given and God-inspired. It’s all “ministry” and should be viewed as (one of) our primary means to bring glory to God, advance the common good, and bring peace, prosperity, and flourishing to the community in which our work touches. Whether that’s through hanging sheet rock, bootstrapping a start-up, or providing clean water to communities in Africa really is a secondary question.

I’m not sure that we’ll ever be able to truly rid ourselves of some latent feelings of trepidation or some level of emotive hangover after a weekend of God-honoring merriment and revelry with our loved ones. But I do think there is a way to pursue meaningful work and frame your work as meaningful to inspire and motivate you to feel alive for Mondays.

While I haven’t boiled this down into some definitive actionable step or cure-all for the Sunday tummy-yuckies, I do think pausing for a moment to think on your work and God, and how He would have us view work, can go a long way in cultivating the grit and motivation to learn to love the grind.

Happy Sunday brave ones.

Go Deeper

  • Pick up Chip Conley’s PEAK: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow for a more in depth look at what motivates employees, investors, and customers and how to thrive in and create organizations that are truly transformational on all fronts.
  • James Clear at jamesclear.com writes a great deal about small-incremental improvements in work and life, habit formation, and learning to love the work for work’s sake.
  • Thank Goodness It’s Monday: Barrett Brooks – TEDxUGA
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