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.
1. Consider the mistakes as part of the learning process
No one likes to make mistakes, but we need to learn that only when we make mistakes we realize what is not working and what can be changed or be done better. We should always keep in mind that we are not what we do, we are much more than that. Our actions, what we do, is the self-efficacy which can be increased with the practice; our essence, who we are, our self-esteem, is separated from everything and do not depend on our performance.
2. Do not compare yourself to others
Comparing yourself to others is never constructive. Focusing on what others do better than us is a trap that no one is immune and is very insidious because it leads to focus on what we do or do not possess losing sight of the many gifts that are already present in our lives. Continuing to bring our attention to others makes us take everything for granted. The comparison leads us to measure ourselves using inappropriate parameters, risking to live someone’s life and desiring things we don’t really want. When it happens to envy someone ask yourself: “I really want that thing, that result, that goal?” And if you do not want it, then why are envious? Are we convinced that this person will appear in the eyes of others better? But in the eyes of whom? And that’s really so important?
3. Be loyal to your values even if it means being unpopular
Key values are those that belong to our soul, do not change over time and lead us in our lives. Be true to your values, even if it means going against and be unpopular. It is not easy, you will lose people along the way, but you won’t lose yourself and this is the only thing that matters. Being faithful to your values means loving yourself.
4. See the past as an adventure
Life is an adventure: every day we have the opportunity to discover something new and wonderful to experience. The past is what allowed you to get to this moment, including errors. Do not condemn your past, even if you suffer, it made you the person you are today.
5. Do not underestimate your talents
All of us have unique talents that make us special, but very often we underestimate them or we are not even aware of them. What makes you feel most alive? What gives you more excitement, what you dream to be, do, have, give? What were your dreams, your passions as a child? What makes your heart beat? What are
your favorite topics? What are your interests? What would you do even if your are not paid for? What makes you feel so absorbed that you lose track of the time passing? What are your features, your peculiarity? It’s just by looking within yourself that you can discover your talents and make them available to the world.
6. Surround yourself with people that inspire you
We are social animals and we need to interact and share experiences with others. Surround yourself with people who want the best for you and inspire you to be the best version of yourself.
7. Express your anger creatively
Anger is an important emotion, but many times we try to repress or deny it, hurting ourselves. It’s important to express anger and there are many different ways to do that. Playing sports, spending time in nature, writing, screaming (in the car or with a cushion for example): find ways to express anger, not hold it in!
8. Celebrate every success
Celebrate every success, even when it seems insignificant, it is important to keep motivation high. Celebrate the wonderful person you are, whatever you do or whatever result you get. Just because you’ve decided to do something new and try to be happy, you deserve all the possible respect.
The benefits of meditation are far reaching and have been well known for centuries. However, the idea of formal meditation doesn’t sit well with some of us.
The idea of sitting cross-legged for extended periods and delving inward puts many of us off before we’ve even got started. Even the word “meditation” can be a very real barrier to entry for some. What a shame, as the many benefits of meditation can be good for us all.
A better understanding of what we truly think/feel/want
Less feelings of anger, hurt, or disquiet
Being more present
Being more content
A better understanding of who we really are
This little list is just starting to scratch the surface. Meditating can be that powerful.
If meditating in a more traditional way for extended periods feels right for you, all power to you— please continue with your journey. If that isn’t you, don’t worry, I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be.
If you recoil a little when meditation is mentioned but still want to reap some of the rewards, I hope to offer several ideas that might work for you. But first, a bit of personal reflection.
I Confess I Do Not Have a Formal Meditation Practice
As someone that writes books and a blog all under the broad umbrella of simplicity and that can often be found leafing through books and words by Thich Nhat Hanh, Bruce Lee, Sun Tzu, and Lao Tzu, it may surprise you to know I do not consider myself to have a formal meditation practice.
Perhaps somewhat out of step with the trend of our time, my morning routine (if I even have one) does not have time carved out for sitting cross-legged in a quiet room, reflecting on the universe at large.
Don’t get me wrong, I admire that others do this, but it never really felt like a fit for me. I’ve tried to make it a habit, at a few points in my life, but it just hasn’t stuck.
If I’m honest, I think the word “meditation” itself intimidates many of us. We perceive it to mean we need some special point of entry, or skillset, to reap the rewards.
All this said, perhaps paradoxically, I am also totally sold on the benefits of meditation and I want them to be a part of my life. I just happen to believe you can get those benefits in other ways. Your formal practice doesn’t have to be formal, and you don’t even have to call it a “practice.”
This is where the art of meditating without meditation comes in.
Meditation without Meditating in Action: My Top 6
Here are some of my favorite ways to achieve some of meditation’s powerful benefits without actually feeling like I am meditating.
Walking is my ultimate reset. It blows away the mental cobwebs that can accumulate. It provides new stimulus and re-energises a tired mind. Complex problems I’ve been struggling with can suddenly feel like they fall into place on a good, long walk. A fresh perspective can somewhat magically drift into view.
I like to walk early, before the rush and before the noise of human traffic drowns out the birds singing. Depending on where I am, I like to walk as close to nature as possible (a nice park, a beach, a hike over rolling hills). This is as close as I consider I get to a formal meditative practice.
2. Being at one with the outdoors and nature
The natural world is a passion for me. Something that breathes life and color into any day, if I just make time to stop and notice what is going on around me. I find it grounding and uplifting all at once.
Nature presents us with a constant wonderland. It’s easy to take this for granted. We can fix this by spending some time just being at one with nature and reconnecting with the great outdoors, and we’ll feel so much better for it.
Be amazed by that spider’s web glistening with the morning’s dew.
Take in the sun rising and setting.
Make time to watch the clouds moving overhead, soak up the inspiration that comes from the view.
Be endlessly in awe at nature’s ability to evolve, adapt, and deal with challenges.
Enjoy the offerings of new life and renewal each and every spring, by making deliberate time to stop and notice.
3. Losing myself in music (art)
Some would say this is cheating, as you are using outside stimulus to get a response; I say call it what you will. The benefits that people claim to get from meditation, I have and feel from losing myself in music.
Music is transformative. It can lift our mood on our darkest days, it can ease anxiety when we feel on edge about something, it can shift our mindset.
We can leverage different music at different times to support our state of well-being. Music is one of life’s true pleasures for me, one of the very last things I would want to give up.
However, if music isn’t quite as powerful a force in your own life, perhaps there is something else that is. Literature can, and does, serve the same end. Or a beautiful painting or sculpture that really moves us, or even a really great movie. All of the above can be transformative, life-affirming, and even life-changing ways we can apply ourselves.
4. Seeking stillness
Seeking stillness may sound like a total contrast to the earlier suggestion to listen to music; maybe it is or isn’t, but this time is necessary for me. This is time to let my mind just drift without expecting too much of anything from it. Letting it wander where it wanders. In a results-orientated culture, we can spend too little time here.
Cut to the core, this is actually what meditation is all about. For me, all it really means is taking the time to get in touch with our own thoughts and finding a point of reflection. It’s cutting out the external world for a while and tuning into frequency us. It’s about reconnecting with the signal, amongst the noise.
This is time to turn off the phone, unplug from the internet, and make space for some calm in our day.
Disconnecting a little from the busy world around us, to reconnect with ourselves.
No special cushion necessary, unless you want one, no special seating position necessary unless it helps trigger the state. Just make a commitment to be mindful and find some stillness in your own way.
For me this means writing and playing guitar.
Writing, in particular, is something I spend much time on. I feel better on days and weeks that I have made time to write creatively. Ideas flow freely and come out on the page. I make sense of thoughts and words and try to communicate as effectively as I can, then I refine (edit). When I am truly in a writing flow, this creative process can definitely feel meditative.
6. Exercise (calisthenics, yoga, and breathwork)
I am a fan and practitioner of calisthenics (working with one’s bodyweight as the weight). I find this form of training both physically demanding and endlessly interesting. I enjoy the raw simplicity.
Learning new moves or practicing well-worn moves, trying to perfect them, also has a meditative effect. I’m totally in the practice, and often have to be if the move in question is getting hard or has a balancing element. Trying to create whole body tension for some moves also means I need to be aware of where my breath is (am I holding it somewhere or letting it flow?).
Yoga is relatively new to me and I have been slow to embrace it, perhaps somewhat surprisingly as my wife is a yoga practitioner and teacher and has encouraged me to give it a proper go for years. Knucklehead that I am, I finally took note and I’ve come to really enjoy this time. I now make time for working on the mat through my week, amongst other exercise I do.
As I am new to the yoga poses themselves, and how different teachers teach, I find I have to be totally present for yoga. No time to think about what comes after or what has just happened; to keep up with the class I have to listen. This has a calming effect on body and soul on the best days.
The breathwork, and constant queues to focus on breath, have also made me aware of where I tend to keep tension (physically and mentally).
What’s great about this list is that you can use these practices interchangeably, and they can happily co-exist at the same time.
I think the “meditation” label puts as many off as it attracts. In busy and distracted times, this is a missed opportunity for us all to feel the benefits.
When we forget the labels, all we’re doing with the practices above is resetting a little. The art of meditating without meditating if you like.
Give it a go. String these resets together on a regular basis and feel the benefits for yourself. Who knows, maybe you’ll even be open to further experiments in formal meditative practice after doing so. If not, just find your own way. Keep what works for you, discard what doesn’t, and call it what you want, or call it nothing at all.
It is one thing to be successful and it is another thing to be exceptionally successful. But to attain a high level of success, you have to be willing to put in the work. Because the theme of the modern-day careerist is this: How do you get more done in less time?
So while a lot of people see the weekend as a time to hang out and relax, exceptionally successful people have a different idea of how Saturdays and Sundays should be spent. Here is how they spend their weekends to set the tone for a week of crazy productive work.
1. They wake up early.
Apple CEO Tim Cook is said to wake up at 3:45 a.m. every morning. Including on weekends. It’s wrong to assume because it’s the weekend, you need to stay in bed until midday. Successful people still get up early because they know time is precious and shouldn’t be wasted, no matter what day it is.
2. They read.
You cannot negate the power of reading. Eimantas Balciunas, CEO of Travel Ticker, says, “Reading and staying abreast on what happens in the travel industry puts me in a position to discover those things the competition apparently may have ignored!” By reading and expanding your knowledge, even and especially on weekends, you are better informed to approach your tasks for the week.
3. They spend time to reflect.
As Socrates said, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” And successful people follow that philosophy, using the weekends to look back at what worked and what didn’t. By reflecting on your week, you can focus on the improvements you need to make on Monday.
4. They make time to pursue their interests.
Successful people know that chasing success shouldn’t mean they have to forget their favorite hobbies. The weekend offers you the opportunity to be creative, whatever it is you like to do most in your spare time.
Exercising can be refreshing. Not only does it strengthen your mind, it gives you the opportunity to clear your head and embrace fresh ideas for the new week.
9. They build momentum.
Successful people don’t settle for average. They are always focused on excellence by keeping up the momentum. The weekend is a good time to put things in perspective and gain clarity, to refocus on your most important goals.
10. They plan for the upcoming week.
Twitter’s Jack Dorsey has an insane work ethic—he works 16 hours Monday through Friday. But he makes sure his schedule allows him to take off Saturdays, and he uses his Sundays to plan for the upcoming week.