If you aren’t jumping out of bed Monday morning, there is a problem.
“Living for the weekend” is not a long-term strategy
You cannot go through life accepting that 5 out of every 7 days are going to be spent doing some undesirable to you.
If you are reading this right now in an environment that is not stimulating you, why are you even there to begin with? Because it’s easy? Because it’s comfortable? Because it pays well? If your answer is Yes, then you aren’t just doing a disservice to the company you’re working for (simply along for the ride), but you are doing a disservice to yourself.
And there is no clearer answer to that than how you feel first thing Monday morning.
If you feel any of the following, you need to question whether you’re in the right place or not.
1. You got a full night’s sleep and yet you still feel tired
This is a very clear indicator that sleep is not the problem.
The problem is you’re not emotionally invested in what you’re doing. Have you ever gone on a vacation or a trip where you’re doing stuff all day, going to bed late, and still waking up early with tons of energy because you’re excited to do more exploring?
That’s how you should feel every day, in some way, shape, or form.
2. You did not prepare yesterday for today
People despise feeling overwhelmed, and yet so many fail to realize they do it to themselves.
Failing to prepare means you are preparing to fail.
Mondays are only overwhelming if you did not take Sunday to get all your ducks in a row. And the reason why most people choose not to do this is because whatever it is they’re doing isn’t enjoyable to them.
3. Everyone else hates Mondays too
It’s easy to hate things other people hate too.
“Misery loves company.”
It’s impossible (or very, very difficult) to stay positive when your company culture is, “Hey Bob, how was your weekend?” / “Too short. Can’t believe it’s Monday. I hate Mondays.”
4. You aren’t doing something you love
You are not going to wake up feeling excited to go to a job you don’t genuinely enjoy.
It’s astounding how many people choose things out of comfort, or fear of the unknown, and bite the bullet on years upon years of dissatisfaction.
5. Social media either hates Mondays or crushes Mondays
Browse through Instagram on a Monday morning and you’ll see half a dozen coffee cup quote graphics either sharing the pains of waking up on a Monday, or the relentless ambition one must possess in order to crush Mondays goals.
What’s more important is, what do YOU want?
How do YOU want to be spending your Monday?
And then what can you do in order to bring that to fruition?
6. You don’t enjoy the people you work with
Most of the time, it’s the people around you that define how long you stay in any given situation.
Regardless of how you feel about the work, it can be very difficult to take satisfaction in doing something with people who don’t bring you positive energy — and vice versa.
7. Mondays mark the end of one life and the beginning of the next
When you “live for the weekend,” a Monday is the door shutting on your 48 hours of freedom — and that’s a pretty strong indicator you are living double lives.
One life is how you “pay the bills,” and the other life is what you do for personal enjoyment. In some capacity, you want to find a way to merge the two.
Otherwise, you will never find your work all that fulfilling.
8. Because Monday means doing it “all over again”
This speaks directly to our culture of chasing rewards as “means to an end.”
If you see every week as a sprint, and you endure it with the hopes that one day you’ll be “done” and you can finally “enjoy it and relax,” you’re doing it wrong. You’re missing the entire journey. You are aiming for something that doesn’t actually exist.
Fulfillment is found along the way, not in a treasure chest at the end of the rainbow.
One is a more reactive approach, where you fight back when you encounter challenges in your personal or professional life. The other is a more proactive one where you are mindful of the trends within you and around you and ready with your surfboard whenever a big wave hits!
The only difference between the two is awareness.
Awareness empowers you to make conscious choices based on an understanding of yourself and the situation, to notice what your choice created, and to then choose again. This is why awareness is powerful. By becoming aware, you are snatching control back.
Merely observing your thoughts and behavior can spur positive action.
Big words. How am I so sure?
Just by tracking my sleep, I was able to gain insights into what aids my sleep and what disrupts it.
When I started tracking my food, I realized calories don’t matter but macros do. I then changed how I consumed food.
Journaling allowed me to observe my mental chatter and learn from it. It made me aware that most of my anger and frustration stems from lack of sleep, food, or water.
Tracking my finances made it easier to make tough calls with my spending.
I didn’t make these changes overnight. They took days and months of being aware before the changes actually happened.
Awareness is knowledge. Knowledge gives you power. Power makes it easier to change.
In the absence of awareness, you react mindlessly to your surroundings because all you have is the movement of thought. Your reaction will then depend on your past experiences and conditioning.
If in the past, you dealt with stress by eating, you are going to reach for your favorite snack. If your past experience taught you to raise your voice to get heard, you will easily shout when you are being ignored.
You start to believe what you are experiencing is reality when actually you are experiencing the narrative your mind created as a reaction to what is going on around you. Without awareness, you confuse what is happening in your mind with reality. You are at the mercy of the conditioned mind.
“Awareness is all about restoring your freedom to choose what you want instead of what your past imposes on you.” ~Deepak Chopra
Most of us are clueless about why we do what we do, how we present ourselves, and how others perceive us. And we get stuck in negative patterns as a result.
Here are some ways you can improve your awareness so you can improve your life.
This allows you to take a step back and ask probing questions of yourself. As Ferris Bueller said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
Ask yourself: Why did I react this way? Why is this making me sad? Why am I so against this viewpoint? Where did this belief come from?
Doing this will allow you to make stronger connections. It will make your convictions stronger and give you the fuel to argue your viewpoint in a civil manner. It will also make you aware of your bad habits and thought patterns.
For instance, self-reflection has taught me that I have a tendency to eat unhealthy food when I haven’t gotten enough sleep. I also have a tendency to shut myself off from people when I am angry instead of talking to them calmly. Knowing this about myself, I am able to catch these unhealthy habits and choose healthier responses.
Journaling is a great tool for self-reflection, since it helps you understand and challenge your thoughts and beliefs, and it’s also an stress reliever. It acts as a brain dump. Think of this as a parking lot for your thoughts. Just like your back feels lighter when you take off your heavy backpack, your mind will feel lighter and less stressful once you dump your thoughts on a piece of paper.
You can do this once a week, once a day, or even once every fortnight. All you need is a diary and a pen to get going. Trust me, nobody is so busy that they cannot take five minutes in a day to journal.
Take personality and psychometric tests.
Whereas a personality test can give you insight into why you do the things you do, a psychometric test can help you asses your skills, knowledge, abilities, and characteristics. I am not a big fan of these, but there are scores of free tests available online. You might find yourself agreeing or disagreeing with the results, but they will give you some food for thought.
Since they’re all based on some sort of questionnaire that you answer, I would recommend taking more than one to get a broader understanding of your strengths, weaknesses, and behavior patterns.
Ask for feedback.
There is a catch to this one. You need to be willing to take the feedback someone gives you without being offended or getting into an argument. If you can ask probing questions from them to dig deeper, even better!
If you are uncomfortable with people pointing out your mistakes and shortcomings to your face, you can ask through email. This way you have time to digest what people write before responding and will be less likely to react defensively.
Step out of your comfort zone.
Once you become aware of your limitations, the next step is to push them and face your fears.
I used to hate talking to large crowds or presenting in front of people. Nothing made me sweat faster!
Since I was aware, I decided to tackle this by joining a student organization in college where my role was to go to different classes and present about the organization in efforts to recruit more students. It wasn’t easy, but within a year, I wasn’t sweating anymore!
For you, this might mean setting a boundary with someone after recognizing your habit of letting people take advantage of you or applying for a job you’ve been interested in after recognizing that you usually hold yourself back with fears of not being good enough.
This is how awareness changes your life: when you not only recognize what you’re doing and why but consciously choose to do something different.
Awareness makes you stronger. With awareness, you are able to bounce back faster after adversity. You are conscious of your insecurities and shortcomings. You have gone through the cycle enough times to understand what triggers them and how you can recover from them.
For example, in my case, when I am feeling sad and depressed, I know I can recover if I take a nap or go workout. It helps me shake off the bad mojo.
Awareness allows you to empathize with people. You can relate to the other person because you know the signs, having experienced them yourself. It becomes very easy to step into the other person’s shoes instead of judging them. In fact, it will come naturally after a while.
Your agility increases because of your awareness. You can pluck yourself in and out of any situation when you want and are able to adapt and pivot as needed on much shorter notice. In other words, you are able to move, think, or act quickly.
The pursuit of self-awareness also leads you to your blind spots. It uncovers the unknown and makes it known, so at least you are aware of it, even if you are not able to act on it right away.
When I look back, I have been blessed to have experienced many moments of awareness discovering things either by myself or because someone in my trusted circle caught it. I am pretty sure when you look back, you will also be able to spot those moments where your transformation first began because of the awareness bringing it to light.
The wheels of change begin to move with the first sign of awareness.
When my wife and I were first married, we went to meet with a counselor to learn some strategies for improving our relationship. I will never forget his advice after hearing both of us talk about our challenges.
He said, “You both need to do a better job of managing your ‘expect-or’.” Never having heard the term before, I asked him, “What do you mean by that?”
He quickly replied, “Life is a lot easier if you don’t have any expectations.”
Just as quickly, I vehemently disagreed. I thought, “How can you be in relationship with someone and not have any expectations?”
Since that time, I have learned that what our counselor said was true. I have discovered that many of our personal and professional frustrations stem from violated expectations, particularly those which we have not clearly identified or communicated to others.
Here are a number of expectations that may create problems in your working relationships with others if you are not giving them your attention.
1. Expectation of awareness
Often we don’t realize that we haven’t identified our expectations, nor have we distinctly communicated them, until we get different results than what we expected. When this happens, it is necessary to take a look at what we expected and determine if we clearly communicated our desires.
If you are in doubt, then you have no one to blame for your unmet expectations but yourself. We assume that others are aware of what we expect, but often they aren’t. Sometimes we become so busy or distracted that we fail to make others specifically aware of what we want.
2. Expectation that others read my mind
Because our thoughts and feelings about something seem obvious to us, we presume that they are to others as well. We figure if people know us and are tuned in, they should know what is needed without it being spelled out. Making these types of assumptions is a recipe for miscommunication and frustration.
3. Expectation of clear communication
When we take the time to tell people what we want, we suppose that they clearly understand what was communicated. Differences in communication style, life experience, education, age, various levels of authority, etc. mean that we might not understand each other in the same way. There are too many variables to assume understanding without being specific and allowing for clarifying questions.
4. Expectation of similar performance
We each have a level of performance and ability we are accustomed to achieving. It is common to expect people to perform exactly the way that we would. If you haven’t clearly explained how something should be done, you can’t assume that others will do it the way that you would.
5. Expectation of job satisfaction
Attaining job satisfaction rests with both the manager and the employee. Each is dependent upon the other to meet their expectations. The manager has the responsibility to meet the expectations of the employee. The employee is also required to meet the expectations of the manager.
If neither party has ever explored one another’s expectations, then it is entirely possible that neither party’s expectations will ever be met. So much for job satisfaction.
6. Expectation of engagement
Managers may expect employees to take responsibility for improving their engagement, while employees may expect that managers will take responsibility for their disengagement. When this happens, each party may be silently waiting for the other to meet their expectations. Meanwhile, nothing happens.
7. Expectation of infallibility
We would like to think that we are above making missteps. Because we are all different, you can trust that your expectations will be violated, plus you will sometimes not meet someone else’s expectations. The likelihood of difficulties will dramatically decrease as we discuss our expectations of others. Expectations are often held, but not communicated. Therein lies the problem.
8. Expectation of competence
Because we assume that no news is good news, we expect that the absence of negative feedback means that we are doing a good job or that our manager is satisfied with our performance. We may also assume if we don’t hear about problems from our direct reports, that all is well. Given that people are generally afraid to talk about what matters most, if you want feedback, you had better ask for it. If you don’t ask, you may never know.
9. Expectation of vision
You can’t expect that people want the same things or want to achieve the same goals. Working on the same project or having specific goals does not mean that both parties hold a mutual vision or purpose. The vision needs to be clearly identified and both parties need to understand how each contributes to the achievement of the mutual goal.
10. Expectation of why
Just because your expectations are clear doesn’t mean that people will understand the reasons behind what you are asking them to do. You want to be clear about the why to increase motivation and expand another’s purpose.
11. Expectation of priorities
You can’t expect others to know your priorities nor can you expect to know another’s priorities if you haven’t clearly communicated. Knowing how frequently they change, it is important to revisit priorities frequently if you expect your efforts to contribute to the desired results.
12. Expectation of need
We often presume to know what others need based on our expectations and experiences. If we don’t communicate with them, we may not be supporting them in the areas they need to achieve our expectations. Failure to meet an individual’s needs in areas such as resources, support, education and development may limit their success.
13. Expectation of feedback
Whether you are a leader, manager or employee, you generally cannot expect people to give you unsolicited feedback. Often the higher up the organization you are, the more difficult it is for people to want to provide feedback. So if you want feedback, you need to ask for it. When you receive it, listen for factual specifics or examples, and if you don’t get any, then you need to ask. Feedback is often hard to come by, so when you receive it, be grateful and express appreciation, then look for actionable items that can help you improve.
These are some examples of the kinds of expectations that may limit our success. Taking the time to clearly identify your expectations, communicate them to others and check that you have been understood will improve your relationships and your ability to achieve the desired results.
One of the most important steps you can take toward achieving your greatest potential in life is to learn to monitor your attitude and its impact on your work performance, relationships and everyone around you.
I generally start my workshops and seminars by asking a fundamental question: What attitude did you bring into this meeting? Often, this brings puzzled looks. In truth, people generally don’t have a high level of attitude awareness. They’ll know if they are hungry or if their feet hurt, but they usually don’t have a good handle on their attitude. That is a mistake because attitude is everything. It governs the way you perceive the world and the way the world perceives you.
We all have a choice. We can choose an inner dialogue of self-encouragement and self-motivation, or we can choose one of self-defeat and self-pity. It’s a power we all have. Each of us encounters hard times, work performance, heartache, and physical and emotional pain. The key is to realize it’s not what happens to you that matters; it’s how you choose to respond.
Your mind is a computer that can be programmed. You can choose whether the software installed is productive or unproductive. Your inner dialogue is the software that programs your attitude, which determines how you present yourself to the world around you. You have control over the programming. Whatever you put into it is reflected in what comes out.
Many of us have behavior patterns today that were programmed into our brains at a very tender age. The information that was recorded by our brains could have been completely inaccurate or cruel. The sad reality of life is that we will continue to hear negative information, but we don’t have to program it into our brains.
The loudest and most influential voice you hear is your own inner voice, your selfcritic. It can work for or against you, depending on the messages you allow. It can be optimistic or pessimistic. It can wear you down or cheer you on. You control the sender and the receiver, but only if you consciously take responsibility for and control over your inner conversation.
Habitual bad attitudes are often the product of past experiences and events. Common causes include low self-esteem, stress, fear, resentment, anger and an inability to handle change. It takes serious work to examine the roots of a harmful attitude, but the rewards of ridding ourselves of this heavy baggage can last a lifetime.
Here are 10 strategies from my attitude tool kit to improve your attitude:
1. Self-Coaching Through Affirmations
Affirmations repeated several times each day, every day, serve to reprogram your subconscious with positive thinking. An affirmation is made up of words charged with power,
Help Keep You Motivated
. You send a positive response to your subconscious, which accepts whatever you tell it. When done properly, this triggers positive feelings that, in turn, drive action.
2. Self-Motivation Through Discovering Your Motives
Discover what motivates you—what incites you to take action to change your life. Basic motives include love, self-preservation, anger, financial gain and fear. Self-motivation requires enthusiasm, a positive outlook, a positive physiology (walk faster, smile, sit up), and a belief in yourself and your God-given potential.
3. The Power of Visualization
Studies of the psychology of peak performance have found that most great athletes, surgeons, engineers and artists use affirmations and visualizations either consciously or subconsciously to enhance and focus their skills. Nelson Mandela has written extensively on how visualization helped him maintain a positive attitude while being imprisoned for 27 years. “I thought continually of the day when I would walk free. I fantasized about what I would like to do,” he wrote in his autobiography. Visualization works well to improve attitude.
4. Attitude Talk for Positive Internal Dialogue
Attitude talk is a way to override your past negative programming by erasing or replacing it with a conscious, positive internal voice that helps you face new directions. Your internal conversation—that little voice you listen to all day long—acts like a seed in that it programs your brain and affects your behavior. Take a closer look at what you are saying to yourself.
Once released to the universe, our words cannot be taken back. Learn the concept of WOW—watch our words. What we speak reflects what is already in our hearts based upon all the things we have come to believe about ourselves. If we find ourselves speaking judgmental and disparaging things about our circumstances or those around us, we know the condition of our hearts needs to change. You can create a direct path to success by what you say.
6. The Power in a Positive Greeting
When people ask me how I am doing, I say, “Super-fantastic.” Most people enjoy working and living with others who try to live life for what it is—a beautiful gift.
7. Enthusiasm: Vital Tool for Staying Motivated
Enthusiasm is to attitude what breathing is to life. Enthusiasm enables you to apply your gifts more effectively. It’s the burning desire that communicates commitment, determination and spirit. Enthusiasm means putting yourself in motion. It’s an internal spirit that speaks through your actions from your commitment and your belief in what you are doing. It is one of the most empowering and attractive characteristics you can have.
8. Connecting to Your Spiritual Empowerment
The ultimate level of human need extends into the spiritual realm. Just as we feed our bodies in response to our primary need to survive physically, we need to feed our spirit because we are spiritual beings. Many people find powerful and positive motivation in their faith. I happen to be one of them.
9. Lighten Up Your Life with Humor
Humor is a powerful motivator. The more humor and laughter in your life, the less stress you’ll have, which means more positive energy to help you put your attitude into action. There are also health benefits to lightening up.
10. Exercising Will Help Keep You Motivated
One of the best ways to move to a more positive and motivated frame of mind is to exercise. A regular exercise routine can provide relatively quick positive feedback in the form of weight loss, muscle development and a sense of doing something positive for yourself.
Seek your personal and professional success by using the tools in this attitude tool kit. It is no secret that life seems to reward us most when we approach the world with a positive attitude.
A Match Made in Heaven?
In consulting, the beginning is very important. First impressions are made that tend to last, even if erroneous. It can be a time of vulnerability and defensiveness. But, if an atmosphere of safety is established; it can set the tone for a productive and collaborative relationship.
The following section is taken from a packet of materials that, whenever possible, I ask the prospective client to look at in anticipation of our first meeting.
The Client-Consultant Relationship1
The client-consultant relationship is designed to be an extremely rewarding experience. This collaborative endeavor can generate a substantial return on investment for the client’s business. It can also lead to dramatic changes that affect the company, its culture, and employees. In the case of family businesses, positive results can impact generations to come.
One must work hard, however, to make the client-consultant relationship as fruitful as it can be. The early phases are crucial. This presentation of some of my thoughts and philosophy on consulting is an attempt to get the relationship off on the right foot and increase the odds that it will be a mutually gratifying experience.
Phase One — Establishing Chemistry
It all starts with the first phone call. The caller may be an owner or CEO wrestling with an organizational, strategic, or personnel issue. In the case of a family business, it may involve an owner-founder facing business decisions that are intertwined with family dynamics.
This initial interchange is complex. When a potential client calls with a problem or question, he often expects an immediate action plan. Instead, what he’ll hear from me are questions. This may be initially frustrating for some. Good questions, however, reveal the need for further discussion. Face-to-face interaction follows, in the form of a chemistry meeting.
The chemistry meeting can be anywhere from one half-hour meeting to a series of several meetings. It may involve just the owner or CEO, or it may include several individuals in a firm or several family members. During this phase the various issues facing the client are discussed.
I gather information through questions and by listening to the story being presented to me. During this time, the client and I are developing a sense of how well we can work together. This unfolding dialogue is central to the establishment of trust and collaboration.
During this phase, the initial scope of the work and mutual expectations are defined. There may be some specific assignments, such as establishing coaching relationships with executives or the presentation of a seminar. Other work may be more open-ended, such as future discussions with the CEO or HR to develop a clearer understanding of the corporate culture, an outline for a leadership development program, or to discuss succession planning.
Phase Two — Identifying the Client
It’s not always clear who the client is. For instance, my contact may be a Human Resources VP dealing with a senior executive who is negatively affecting the rest of the Executive Team, and in turn the bottom line. Who is the client? Is it the Human Resources VP, the senior executive, or the company? The goal is to make interventions that are simultaneously beneficial for all involved.
I can provide advocacy and coaching for the senior executive the Human Resources VP wants me to work with while serving the best interests of the company at large. Given appropriate resources and support, we can generate a synergistic, positive outcome from which everyone can benefit.
Like a primary physician, a consultant gathers information through questions, and possibly tests, to arrive at a diagnosis and construct a plan of action. Unlike a primary physician who checks some boxes and hands a form to the billing department to obtain payment from the client or insurance company, the consultant and client need to agree on expectations and manner of payment.
Phase Three — Estimating the Cost
Clients are businessmen. It is their nature and their job to justify expenses and to, as much as possible, have a sense of the return on any investment. The benefits of a consulting engagement, however, are usually difficult to measure.
What dollar figure do we place on consulting work done that enabled a senior executive to improve his organizational skills, and his interpersonal relations with the Executive Team and direct reports? Did that work have anything to do with the success of a project the senior executive headed that had been floundering for 10 months before the consultant began the coaching relationship? Should the consultant share in the credit for the major profits this key project generated for the company? Of course, not every consulting engagement achieves all that was hoped for.
My clinical training has instilled in me strict adherence to the motto: Above all do no harm. My personality, work ethic, and values make it very uncomfortable for me to work in a situation where Im not being helpful. These principles guide my consulting work; and, along with my training and expertise, form the basis for my schedule of fees.
Phase Four — Starting the Work
At this point, rapport and a sense of trust have been established and the client engages me as a hired consultant. The assessment process still continues. This may involve individual interviews with key personnel or family members. Essential historical, financial, and operational information about the business is necessary to obtain a holistic picture of the business system and culture. Recommendations by past consultants are also relevant.
Specific coaching assignments and projects with concrete objectives may be started. However, it is important to realize that as the early work phase unfolds, other important short-term and long-term goals may become known. This may require some prioritizing. The ongoing assessment process may reveal a major organizational or strategic need that must be addressed. For instance, it may become clear to a family business contracting me for executive coaching work with the owner’s son that the important issue of succession planning requires much needed attention.
Phase Five — Developing My Role as Consultant
There are a number of different roles I can serve as a consultant to the business. As the work unfolds, the client may want to enlist me to serve these various functions.
Coach — As a coach, I can work with individuals to improve interpersonal, leadership, and organizational skills; to expand self-awareness and self-management; to define personal and career goals; to increase the understanding of group and organizational dynamics; to recognize the various components of the company’s culture; to align personal and company visions; and, in general to increase the range, flexibility, and effectiveness of the individual’s behavioral repertoire with co-workers, clients, and family.
Conflict Manager — Prolonged unresolved conflict between two key individuals in the system can paralyze and even destroy a company or family. Key dyads can involve conflict between two partners; an owner-founder and spouse (the executive couple); the head of sales and the plant manager; or other principal pairs. Conflict may also exist in the Executive Team. It may render operational and strategic meetings useless. My role is not to be judge or mediator but to facilitate communication and to help establish true dialogue – the art of thinking together.
Teacher — Situations may arise where a teaching module or seminar can be customized and utilized to serve, not only an instructional, but an organizationally strategic purpose. In my role as consultant, I promote a stance and approach that underscores how expanding knowledge generates healthy business and personal functioning. This role may require me to be the one to ask the tough questions that need to be asked. Colluding to avoid the examination of critical issues does not serve the interest of the client. But, it is important that the consultant ask questions skillfully and with good timing. In my role as teacher I also contribute to the development of the business as a learning organization.
Interpreter — This could be my most valuable service. As an experienced observer of human nature and human organizations I am able to process and decode a great deal of emotional and psychological information that may be meaningless or too ambiguous to the casual observer or the individual enmeshed in the system. I can recognize themes, trends, and other phenomena and interpret them to the client. He can make use of this valuable information to effect organizational change and strategy.
A word about confidentiality. In order to be effective I must have the trust of those I work with. They must be assured that any information given to me stays with me unless I have permission to disclose it.