Mondays are a great litmus test to determine if something is not working in your life and career.
If it’s Sunday evening and you think about the week ahead and feel energized, that’s a good indicator that you’re thriving.
But if you think about Monday and feel dread, overwhelm, or a pit in your stomach, consider that to be like an engine indicator light on your car. It’s a warning sign that something needs your attention.
Just as like hunger or thirst indicate when our bodies need food and water, persistent dread and overwhelm are internal signals that something needs to change.
If this is where you find yourself, here’s what to do.
Get To The Source Of The Problem
The first step is to begin an inquiry to figure out the real source of your distress.
To do that, follow the feeling: Is it the actual work that you dread or just the feeling of overwhelm from the number of tasks on your plate? Keep digging deeper at each level, always looking to be as specific as possible.
If it’s the work itself, ask yourself what is causing the feeling of dread. Is it interacting with your boss or a particular co-worker? Is it that you find the work boring and uninspiring? Is it the work environment that you dislike?
If it’s the feeling of overwhelm that’s bothering you, figure out the exact issue: do you feel like there’s not enough time to take care of work and household tasks? Or is it because you don’t have a plan for the week?
With every answer, continue to go deeper, as if peeling off the layers of an onion, until you finally get to the primary source of your pain. (If it’s all of the above, then focus on identifying the issue that you most dread, or that feels the most painful.)
The Magic Question
Once you identify the real source of your dread, write down your thoughts about the problem. For example, if you dread your work because you hate the work, you might write down “this work is mind-numbing.” If you feel overwhelmed and stressed about time, you might write down “I don’t have time to do everything.”
I want to offer that these optional thoughts are creating more dread and pain for you than the actual circumstances. And they are also not serving you because they’re not really helping you solve the problem and can actually be counter-productive. If you look closely, you’ll probably find that you spend a lot of extra time dwelling on the negative thoughts, rather than just getting on with the work and finishing it.
Also, as true as these thoughts feel, notice how they don’t actually help you to solve the problem. If you had already solved it with those thoughts, you wouldn’t be reading this article!
The good news is that you can, in fact, choose different thoughts about your circumstances, which will create different feelings, which will allow you to show up differently and create different results.
It all starts with a magic question: How do you want to feel about it? As in, how do you want to feel about your job? Or your to-do list?
The question presupposes that you have a choice about how you feel because you do. It creates space in your brain to consider the possibility of another option that will allow you to feel better about your current circumstances right away. (That’s why I consider it to be magical!)
Maybe you truly do find the work you do to be boring, but you want to feel content (as opposed to miserable) in your current job while also looking for a new one. Or maybe you just want to feel grateful that you have a job that pays the bills right now while you strategize your next move. Looking at your busy schedule, maybe you just want to feel calm about it all. These feelings are available to you now.
Once you identify how you want to feel, ask yourself this: What thought do I need to think and believe in order to feel that way?
Brainstorm thoughts until you find a few that feel better than what you’re currently thinking. Perhaps the thought “there is enough time to do the things that are important” creates a feeling of calm for you. Every person is different, so you need to find a thought that works for you and that you can believe now.
Creating new thought patterns and new neural pathways takes time and practice. You might not be accustomed to practicing your thoughts, but choosing thoughts that serve you on purpose is a skill that you can learn like any other.
Once you find your new thought, deliberately practice it several times a day by reading it and saying it to yourself. Put it at your workspace or on your phone as a reminder. Have it on hand to look at when your brain takes you back to the old thought patterns, as it inevitably will.
Each time you do this, you will notice an instant shift in your feelings. When you feel better, you’ll start taking productive action. And when you do that, you’ll get much better results. It seems almost too simple, but actually putting it into practice makes all the difference.
What results are you going to create this week?
Have a beautiful week.
P.S. I work with clients one-on-one to help them learn how to solve the problem of persistent dread, overwhelm, and lack of fulfillment in their careers and lives. It all starts with a free call to see if my program and coaching are a good fit for you. Click here to schedule your one-hour call with me. It’s an hour that could change how you think about Mondays forever.