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.
Whether you’re a natural early bird or a night owl who could happily hit snooze until lunchtime, a good morning routine can improve productivity, prevent burnout and help manage the mental load of your daily to-do list.
Read on for nine morning rituals to boost your wellbeing and performance.
1. Wake early
Successful people often rise early to get a head start on the day before any disruptions arise.
If early starts are difficult for you, start by waking 15-30 minutes earlier each day until it starts to feel natural.
It’s normal to feel groggy for the first few days or weeks, however waking up at the same time each day trains your circadian rhythm, which will eventually make it much easier to get up in the mornings and achieve deeper, more restful sleep at night.
Hydration is essential for efficient waste product elimination, metabolic function, gut and skin health. It’s also good for better cognitive function, as the brain is comprised of about 75 per cent water.
Much of our internal fluids are used overnight for these important functions, and as you aren’t drinking while asleep, your body is quite dehydrated upon waking. Drinking a glass or two of water each morning will help you feel awake and ready for the day.
Physical activity can improve concentration, mood, and energy levels, however finding time to be active isn’t easy.
Working out first thing in the morning is a great way to start your day, and eliminates the need to find time for exercise later on, when you’re more likely to be derailed by a long work day or spontaneous social plans.
Setting your alarm to wake 30 minutes earlier to squeeze in a walk to your local coffee shop, an at-home yoga class, or a training session at the gym before work can do wonders for your immediate and long-term wellbeing.
Meditation has many positive impacts on mental health, burnout, and stress management. Particularly for those working in high-pressure environments or who experience anxiety, meditation can be a great way to destress and instill a sense of calm.
There’s no bad time to meditate, however meditating in the morning can set the tone of your day and empower you to respond to challenges with composure and mindfulness.
Don’t worry if you’re short on time, as you only need to practice meditation for 10 minutes a day to reap the benefits
5. Eat a nutritious breakfast
Breaking your fast with a wholesome meal is a great way to start the day, as it replenishes the glucose stores in the body and the brain, which is essential in order to function properly.
A nutritious breakfast can support better weight management by fueling your body before you get too ravenous, decreasing the chances of succumbing to less healthy convenience options later on.
Breakfast is also a great opportunity to get in some sources of essential micronutrients which support brainpower, energy and mood, as well as prevent fatigue and boost your immune system.
6. Read a book or listen to a podcast
Morning people often describe the early hours as a sacred opportunity for ‘me time’, before anyone else is awake and all the demands of daily life start to pull focus.
Gratitude has been shown to improve mental and physical wellbeing, lead to better relationships, greater job satisfaction and deeper, more restful sleep.
Incorporating gratitude into your daily routine by linking it to something you already do each morning, such as reciting a gratitude mantra during your yoga practice or morning shower, will help form the habit more quickly, meaning you can enjoy the benefits of gratitude sooner.
8. Plan your day
It’s often tempting to dive straight into responding to emails first thing in the morning, however taking time to plan your day can improve time and workload management, preventing unnecessary stress caused by short deadlines or last-minute surprises.
Creating a to-do list ensures you can accomplish the highest priority tasks for that day, empowering you to feel more in control, less stressed and more productive.
9. Make it achievable
Make your new morning habits sustainable and less overwhelming by trying one or two of these rituals at a time to see what works best for you.
Putting pressure on yourself to overhaul every aspect of your morning routine at once is more likely to add stress rather than supporting your wellbeing and productivity.
We all have different demands on our time and energy, which may make some of these actions unfeasible.
Be kind to yourself, and adopt a realistic approach to get you on your way to having more rejuvenating and productive mornings.