This morning, I was watching a local interest program here in Las Vegas as I was sipping my Bulletproof Coffee (that will be the subject of another blog post!) and caught both hosts being excited about it being Friday and the end of the work week. Since retirement, I have heard several people still in the working world saying the same things and conversely lamenting on Sundays that they “have to go back to work on Monday.” In most of my career, I was blessed to have work that I enjoyed but there were assignments in my working life where I too had that Friday elation and Sunday dread. It is natural, after a long work week full of meetings, deadlines, problem solving, and then more problems, to look forward to the weekend when you can unwind. A time when you can relax and for a brief period of time, forget about the daily grind of work. It is also natural to see your Sunday afternoon as the last vestige of freedom before you go back to work Monday morning.
There is a way to combat this cycle of elation and dread so that you experience that elation even on Sunday mornings (I know, I know, it’s hard to believe!) The first has to do with your mindset towards work. This is a leadership blog but what I am about to tell you goes for anyone, whether you lead an organization/team/group or not. I try to practice both my Christian faith as well as the philosophy of Stoicism in my daily life. Mindset is a big part of both disciplines. As the sun wanes on your Sunday afternoon and you start thinking about the workweek, you should be telling yourself “I get to go to work!” Not, “I have to go to work.” Two different mindsets. There are a lot of people out of work who would love to have a steady paying job. You have that if you are working. I do not care what problems you have at work. You have a job. You get paid. If you are lucky, you have benefits as well. You “get to go to work.” When you flip your mindset this way to acknowledge internally the blessing and privilege of having a job, the negative “I have to go to work” will go away. This is the first step to enjoying both your Fridays and Sundays.
Attitude is everything!
The other thing you must do to set yourself up for a great week is to use part of your Friday as strategy time. I used to carve out Friday afternoons whether I was at Microsoft or the CIA, as strategy time. It would be on my calendar, so I knew I needed to do this. Barring required meetings or the start of the Third World War, I disciplined myself to take an hour or two and strategize about the following week. I asked myself:
· What meetings do I need to attend (or not attend?)
· What are the main goals I needed to achieve this week
· How do my activities the following week align with my organization’s overarching strategic goals.
Focusing on strategy and what is coming up ahead of you not only sets you up for success, but also reinforces in your mind that you have control over the outcomes of the next week. Yes, there will be one off situations that come out of the blue requiring your attention. There will be some emergency or crisis that messes up your well defined and planned day. That is the nature of the beast. But even then, if you have planned your week accordingly, these one-off situations are easier to handle and manage.
Mindset, Strategic Planning and your Attitude (having the right attitude towards life and work) are the keys to avoiding the Friday elation and Sunday dread cycle. You can have that elation both Sundays and Fridays. I am not saying some Sundays will not have that dread due to something you are not going to enjoy dealing with (e.g., some personnel, budget or other difficult business issue) But at the end of the day, YOU control how you look at the upcoming workweek. YOU define that week. Do not let it define you! I’m about to enjoy my Friday. You enjoy yours too!
Continue to be Ronin Leaders!