Whenever I talk to young people just starting out in their careers, I often ask them what their biggest challenge is. I’m interested to know what kind of obstacles they have to smash through in order to grow and progress in their journey.
I anticipate people telling me that they struggle with fitting into a particular culture, dealing with office politics, managing their time or knowing how to prioritise the work that falls on their desks unexpectedly along with the rest of the tasks they have to juggle.
These are just some of the challenges that can appear quite daunting to begin with (we’ve all been there), and it can be enormously helpful to receive a few words of advice from someone who’s worn out the T-shirt!
Monday morning blues?
But there’s one grievance that leaves me racking my brains as I try to formulate a helpful response. It goes something like this:
My biggest challenge is facing a Monday morning. On Sunday, I’m dreading the commute the next day. It’d be awesome if the working week could start from a Tuesday, and then there’d only be 4 days until the weekend instead of 5.
To be fair to those starting out in working life, this particular complaint is made right across the board, regardless of the status or number of years in the workplace.
Monday mornings seem to be dreaded by so many, but I’ve personally never understood why that is. I get the reason behind the dread, but it’s not something I’ve really felt (okay, the odd Monday, maybe – but we’re good friends most of the time).
Let’s look at what this Monday dread means for those who go to work at the start of their week, hoping to get through the day as quickly as possible.
Assuming a working life between the ages of 22 and 65 (43 years) – that translates to 2,236 weeks, which obviously means the same number of Mondays. We could account for holidays taken and other factors (such as including school and college life), but let’s keep it simple.
Our working lives — assuming a 40-year career — includes over 2,000 Mondays and in this example, 2,236 of them make up approximately 6 years of our life. That’s 6 years of life that are, in effect, wished away.
No doubt some maths whiz would be able to give a more detailed projection that includes other factors; nevertheless, it’s quite a frightening realisation to know that many of us actively try to wish away so much of our time.
There are so many reasons why some people might hate Mondays:
It’s the end of the weekend; the start of a full working week; it’s a fresh cycle of going into a job that’s unfulfilling or problematic in some way; it might be a reminder that you’re still not where you want to be; you have to spend a whole new week with that colleague again; there’s the weekly meeting with that difficult client to get through; the work culture is terrible; the leadership is even worse…
And on it goes. It’s no wonder some people can’t wait for the weekend!
But let’s go back to that number: Six years of life, effectively written off, all because of a negative perception of 1 day. And yet, if a doctor told us on a Sunday that we had 1 week to live, suddenly Monday would become our most cherished day and Saturday would become our most dreaded.
In fact, we’d probably give anything to have just 2 more Mondays. And yet, some of us are wishing away over 2,000 of them throughout the course of our lives. When we look at successful people, there are tons of advice that show you how you can emulate their habits and practices so that you might become successful in your own life.
Time is a privilege
Having met countless successful leaders from around the world and held hundreds of conversations, I can say that they all approach life in different ways — no one travels the same path twice toward success.
But there are also a lot of similar traits and qualities that are common among successful people. One of these is their thirst for knowledge, another is that they fully utilise the time that they have. One other trait that successful people share is that they don’t care what day of the week it is. A Monday is as good as a Saturday, and Fridays can sometimes be a headache.
Regardless, they don’t see their time in terms of what day it is: they see all of their time as a privilege they’ve been given, and so they work to squeeze every minute for what it’s worth, whatever they happen to be doing. If I were to give one piece of advice to every young student out there, it would be to work on getting rid of the notion that Monday is a dreadful day. There’s no such thing as a dreadful day, only a dreadful reaction.
How we react to life determines how life responds to us in turn
Does that mean we should ignorantly wave away problems, concerns and challenges with a big smile on our faces? No. We should always be on the lookout for genuine obstacles and ready to take the right action as early as possible to overcome them.
But we should be thankful for all the time that we are given here on this earth. One day in the future, a Monday will come that will be our last and the chances are we won’t know it.
Every single day gives us a chance to grow, to develop, to push ourselves that little bit more to become better tomorrow than we are today. Every day is always an opportunity, never an obstacle.
Every day delivers us the privilege to learn, build, interact, achieve and succeed. And even on those days when everything seems to be going against us, there are lessons to be learned that can work for us if only we pay close enough attention.