Mondays Are Nonsense
(Your job, habits, and other things might be nonsense, too.)
Posted Feb 10, 2020
When I was practicing law and my children were very young, I got extremely anxious each Sunday afternoon around three o’clock. The Monday dread began to close in. The mental dialogue about deadlines, the to-do list, the calendar, the research and writing, the emails and calls I had to make—all thrown together in an already-contentious profession—created a hate-anxiety-fear cocktail that I couldn’t quite take.
(Which lead to a cocktail—or ten—that I could.)
I yearned to make the anxiety stop on Sundays. I quieted the voices and fears with wine or margaritas, chips and salsa and really anything that would make me feel nothing for a few more hours—before Monday arrived and slapped me in the face.
The anxiety on Sunday about Monday? I could literally taste it. And yes, I would eat and drink the fears of Monday with a fierce ferocity that I can still feel as I write this.
The truth about Mondays is that they always arrived, on time and with the viciousness that I anticipated. Monday morning would appear out of nowhere and hammer me. A start to a week that also did not let up, mind you. The kids were also intense on Mondays (because young kids are intense). I was often shaken awake by our two tiny, yet epically-powerful earthquakes. The noise in the house was so loud, so early. I was continuously running late. I was beyond tired. I put on concealer and eyeliner under the dark cloud of Sunday regret, hoping to hide the bags under my eyes, cover up the lies of the way I was terrified about the week.
This Sunday regret was spelled out all over my face: I was hungover. I had ingested Lord-knows-how-many calories in one sitting the night before. My face was puffy. I was tired. And all of this was because I dreaded Monday.
Mondays can certainly be Nonsense. My Mondays back then were most definitely Nonsense. But not for the reasons that I had come to believe at the time.
Now, I know that the problem is not the Monday itself.
The problem was, and is often, much deeper than just a random day of the week. The problem(s) were many and rooted in numerous layers of my life. Monday was yet another symptom of a greater problem.
I was at war with myself. I had been at war with myself from the time I got married, developed a drinking problem and sat down in my first law school class. I was living a life that was not authentic, not authentically mine, and certainly not exhibiting a version of me that I wanted.
For starters, I had chosen the wrong career. I wanted to be a writer for as long as I could remember. I was actually quite specific in my description of this dream as a child:
I want to have my book in a library.
The thought was simple: I wanted to write a book, go to a library and see this book on a shelf. Available for free for anyone who’d like to take it home.
Two books in libraries later, I understand one thing: I rarely dread Mondays. I don’t hate Mondays. In fact, after a busy weekend, sometimes I crave the quiet that comes from a Monday morning.
What has changed?
Well, many things over the last decade have contributed to a rearranging of the Monday dread, but I can point to three questions that might be helpful for you.
“CAN I DO THIS JOB/CAREER FOR TEN, TWENTY, THIRTY MORE YEARS?”
First, I spent many years working a way out of the legal profession. No matter what job you might be in—if the Monday morning dread can be loosely connected to said job or profession, I would encourage you to look at it more closely. One day, when I was thirty-three, I thought: Can I actually do this for thirty more years?
Something about that self-question shook me. We are often proceeding on career autopilot because we spent a ton of money and time on our education, are still paying back our loans, and think, “Well this is what I chose, so now I will keep doing it. For the next three or four decades.”
Decades? Why would we spend time doing something we hate, makes us anxious and fearful, for decades?
“WHAT CAN I DO TO MOVE MY DREAM FORWARD?”
During this realization about the day job (that I just couldn’t actually continue that work for thirty more years), I decided that I needed to create a Plan B. To somehow get back to the dream of having my book in a library. This book that I had not written or even figured out what to write about.
Sometimes people say to me, “It must be nice to just quit your job and be a writer. I wish I had that luxury.” I will say that I am lucky in many ways with regard to being a “writer” as my main title (which I will note—is in no way my main income). I did not quit my job to become a writer, however. I began writing during my early legal days. I created a mom blog when blogging began to take off. Later, I created a blog about my triathlon journey—aptly dubbed “Swim Bike Mom.”
After I took on the sport of triathlon, I decided that I would write a book about it. So I wrote a book at night during my “spare time,” published it myself and began to build on my life from there. I obtained coaching certifications and developed coaching programs around triathlon and lifestyle. All of this while still working the day job.
In other words, extraction from law took me over twelve years from the first blog. Which is better than spending thirty years doing something that was killing me softly every Sunday.
Two traditionally-published books later, the backing of a family, and a roster of endurance and lifestyle clients, I am squarely out of the legal profession. But none of that would have happened without the side hustle, this so-called Plan B, over a decade in the making.
If you want out of your career, you must start planning for the B—the Bounce out of your current situation. Yes, it will take time and money and effort beyond what you think is possible. Yes, it will require early mornings. Yes, you will be tired. But if you can’t imagine spending the next ten or thirty years dreading Mondays—it’s worth it. Get moving.
“HOW CAN I CREATE A STRONG MENTAL GAME?”
There are many qualified individuals to talk about the power of mental toughness, setting intentions, meditation and visualization. So I will tell you about the way I made this particular realm happen for me.
Alongside the career I did not want, I was also living in a body that I couldn’t stand. I was a former weightlifter and athlete in high school, but I had since disintegrated into a soft, tired and fluffy shell of my former self. Say what you want about body image, but when you are not taking care of your health, not exercising and eating a steady diet of brown food, there is no room for feeling good. Weight or body fat aside, I was not healthy and I did not feel well. Living in a body that you hate? It bleeds over into other areas of life because you know that you don’t feel well, let alone look well.
I found the sport of triathlon (swim, bike and run) in 2010 as a 250-pound mom of two young kids. I added that sport to my roster of “things to do,” which seemed really dumb at the time. But as I began to wake up earlier and earlier, moving my body in new ways, I found a sense of power in this schedule, this training that told me: If I can do this, I can do anything. If I can change this, I can change anything.
I found strength in doing something outside of my work and family—for myself. I was an unlikely triathlete (still am), but learning to do a sport that was completely outside of my comfort zone taught me many things about hard work, determination, embarrassing myself, finding my voice and also helping others. The mental game that comes alongside this type of experience is absolutely transferable to other areas like career and body image.
I didn’t come to a strong mental game out of nowhere (although I have always been a little stubborn). I did put myself into awkward situations. Even in “failure” in triathlon or day-to-day, I learned to plow forward. When my actions in training for triathlon showed my brain that I “can do this,” then I began to ask myself questions like: “If you can run 10 miles, what else can you do?”
Give yourself the opportunity to try something new and different in order to move your personal dreams down the court. If you don’t have any current, identifiable dreams, then finding what those might be is a great starting point. How? Ask yourself what you liked to do when you were young? What is your version of a having a book in a library?
If you take one step in the direction of changing the autopilot, you might find a way out of the drudgery of the dreaded Monday—no matter what is causing the dread. Once you began to take action, then you can often change that negative Monday mindset. Because the Sunday dread really is about starting to change perspective about Monday—but oftentimes we are way too smart. We cannot just create mantras and fool ourselves into thinking everything is great. Fake positivity is not productive.
Instead, take steps to create the path you want. If you take steps in that direction, it’s easier to tell your brain, “Self! Look you are doing this thing. Mondays will get better soon.” After you have a little under your belt, then try on the “Mondays are great!” mantras and see how they fit.
Regardless of the path you take, if you are finding that Mondays are Nonsense, ask yourself what could make them less Nonsense—and give yourself the gift of movement in that direction.