Benefits: Discover three factors that contribute to the Sunday Scaries.
So That You Can: Identify which factor applies to you, what action you can take to control it, and find your Sunday motivation for the week ahead.
Don’t Waste Another Minute on the Sunday Scaries
The term may be new to you, but you know what I’m talking about. That insidious feeling that creeps up on you every Sunday afternoon. You try to ignore it, reason with it, but it’s a persistent little devil.
It’s the anxiety of knowing that you have an overloaded week ahead of you. It’s the fear of failing to deliver on those projects that you just don’t feel prepared for. It’s the gut-wrenching realization that you have to go deal with people who drain all of your energy and stomp on your last nerve — again! It’s feeling like you’re photocopying your life; doing the same meaningless shit day in and day out.
This, my friends, is what the Sunday Scaries are all about. I heard this term for the first time recently, though it doesn’t appear to be a new term, and it made me sad. Sad that this feeling is pervasive enough to warrant a name. Sad that so many people are willing to let this feeling eat up a whole day of their week because it’s “normal.”
Seriously, people, we don’t have to live this way!
A Few Stats About This Time Thief
I’m not sure how reliable these statistics are, but they prove a point: way too many people are experiencing this phenomenon on a weekly basis.
From a post published by LinkedIn on 9.28.18:
The reasons cited:
- 60% blame worrying about their workload
- 44% say it’s because of balancing professional and personal to-dos
- 39% dwell on tasks they didn’t finish the week before that pile up
There seem to be a lot of Expectation Gaps here that are leading to the Sunday Scaries. Expectations about the amount of work one person can handle. Expectations about real or perceived deadlines. Expectations about responsibilities at work and at home. Expectations about which tasks are critical and which ones are not.
And what do we do when we have Expectation Gaps? We put our Deliberate Thinking skills to work and take ownership of the situation we are facing.
The Sunday Scaries Might Be Okay
In my post, “Spoiler Alert: Meaningful Work is Not What You Crave,” I introduced the idea that there are two seasons of your post-graduation, working life: the “apprenticeship season” and the “pursuing your potential season.” The apprenticeship season is the time when you gain skills and knowledge and master your craft, whatever it may be.
The Sunday Scaries may be an inevitable reality while you’re in your apprenticeship season because you’re figuring “things” out. You’re figuring out how to balance life, how to efficiently perform your work, what’s really important to you, and, in reality, you’re still trying to figure out what you want to be when you grow up. All these “things” are inevitably going to cause some level of anxiety.
If you’re in this season, you can find plenty of articles that offer tips to deal with the Sunday Scaries, but I encourage you to re-frame this feeling and even embrace it. At this point in your career, you’re supposed to be unsure of yourself, you’re supposed to want to perform at your best, and you’re not supposed to have it all figured out.
Recognize that the feelings fueling the Sunday Scaries are part of the process of realizing your full potential, and embrace the lessons the Sunday Scaries are trying to teach you.
Then Again, They Might Not Be Okay
If you’re on the doorstep of the “pursuing your potential” season and are still experiencing a wicked case of the Sunday Scaries more often than not, it’s time to sit back and evaluate your work situation.
You’ve mastered your craft, and if it’s the right craft for you, it should be energizing you more often than it drains you. If it’s not, it’s time to put your Deliberate Thinking skills to work. Sit and think about the specific things that are draining your energy.
Once you identify your energy drains, you might decide it’s time to switch companies, positions, or even make a complete career change. But take heart, the skills that you have mastered won’t be lost, and you’ll find unforeseen ways to use them in your new endeavor. I’ve illustrated some real life examples of how I transferred my work skills in the post, “Spoiler Alert: Meaningful Work is Not What You Crave.”
Take the first steps toward evaluating your work situation right now, and come with me as we explore 3 factors that may be contributing to your woe.
- Your work doesn’t match your natural skill set.
- Your work isn’t challenging you in the right way.
- Your core values don’t match those of the company, your supervisor, and/or your co-workers.
You Have an Undeniable, Natural Skill Set
You have natural skills and abilities that you’ve always had. We all do. Unfortunately, we often deny our natural skills to seek safety and certainty and to do what we think is expected of us. I would argue that this denial is what leads to the majority of our anxiety and angst. It’s time to recognize that you’ve always had these skills for a reason.
I was an accountant/auditor (CPA) for over 20 years, and I was very skilled at it. I liked my work most of the time, and still, it drained me because I was denying the natural skills that energize me; namely, creativity and self-reliance. The type of accounting work I performed required these skills, to a point, but it didn’t allow me to fully express them in the way that I can now.
When I was a kid, I engaged in a lot of imaginative play, and I even had a whole group of “imaginary” friends. (We lived in the middle of nowhere, and there were no other kids around, okay.) I used to draw, write song lyrics, compose music, and write poetry. I wasn’t necessarily good at any of these things, but I was pretty creative nonetheless.
I also remember being self-reliant. I think I came out of the womb that way, and I’m sure my parents would agree with me on this. It’s just how I’m wired. It wasn’t that I didn’t have anyone else to turn to, I just never saw the world any other way. I always thought I was supposed to make my own decisions and take responsibility for myself.
How about you? What are a couple natural skills you have that you can trace back as far as you can remember? And does your work fully utilize those skills?
You’re Up For the Challenge, But It’s Not There
Maybe you’re ready to push yourself to the next level, but your work doesn’t challenge you to learn and grow. Oh sure, you’re challenged by deadlines, by the demands placed on you, and by trying to comply with ridiculous standards.
But you are not being challenged in ways that fulfill your needs. Your need to utilize your natural skills. Your desire to be better today than you were yesterday. Your innate longing to make an impact. None of these needs are being met.
Sometimes we pursue this kind of work because we feel too overwhelmed and burned out by life and need an uncomplicated way to get through the day. Sometimes we settle for this type of work because we’re too afraid of the unknown; too afraid to face the risks that come with trying something new. Sometimes we tell ourselves that we’re not good enough to take on more challenging endeavors.
Whatever your reason may be, you know when you’re not being challenged in the right way. You lose focus easily, you count down the minutes to quitting time, you check your notifications endlessly, etc.
The crazy thing is, this might be exactly what you’ve been working to achieve. We tend to focus on making our lives easier, not more challenging. The problem is, ease breeds complacency, complacency breeds anxiety, and anxiety breeds the Sunday Scaries.
In my accounting career, I was always challenged to learn new things, but they weren’t things that I really cared to learn about. This could be the case for you too. Eventually, you may realize that you are giving way too much time and energy to learning about crap that means nothing to you. I know I did.
The DEFINITIVE FACTOR Creating Your Anxiety
Once you read more of my writing, you’ll realize that I talk about core values a lot. That’s because your core values dictate every single thought, feeling, and action you take. Think about it for a minute, and you’ll agree ?
I would even argue that if your core values and those of the people you work with are not aligned, you have discovered THE DEFINITIVE FACTOR that is creating the anxiety you feel when you think about your work.
Even if you have the most mundane job, you can get through it with a smile if you are working with like-minded people; people you enjoy being around; people who bring the best out of you.
Even if your work itself is not fulfilling, you will feel some fulfillment if you believe in the company’s mission; if management carries out the company’s mission; and if you can see that the results of your work contribute to the mission.
On the other hand, you could love your work and still feel unfulfilled if you are surrounded by people who you do not enjoy being around; people who bring you down; people who don’t appreciate your contribution. The same is true if you don’t support the company’s mission or management style.
You Cannot Push Your Core Values Aside
I experienced this lack of fulfillment in my last accounting position. There was a time that I loved the work I was doing, but there were three big problems: (1) growth (one of my core values) was not embraced as part of the company culture, (2) some of the people I worked with were negative and spiteful, and (3) I did not support the owners’ values.
For many months, I tried to convince myself that I could ignore these “problems.” That I could just stay in my office, mind my own business, and serve my clients. After all, I had a good working relationship with everyone, even the people with whom I shared a mutual dislike. Surely I could find a way to keep these issues from affecting me.
It turns out that I couldn’t, and it was surprising to me that #3 was the hardest one to get past. My time was billed out by the hour, so I had a pretty good idea how much the company was making off of me. And I actually have no problem with that in theory. I didn’t want to own my own CPA firm or be the boss, and I understood that there are definitely benefits to being an employee vs. an owner.
Then one day it dawned on me — by allowing the owners to make money off of my efforts, I was indirectly supporting values that I strongly oppose. That got to me. It was then that I started resenting the portion of the bottom line that my time represented, and that was the beginning of the end for me.
Don’t discount this factor and think it’s something you can push aside. It’s not, and trying to pretend it is will only lead to resentment, complacency, loss of confidence, and a very unfulfilling life.
What’s Contributing to Your Woe?
Now that you know how pervasive the Sunday Scaries are, how much valuable time is wasted on them, and three factors that contribute to them, it’s time to sit back and figure out what’s causing your Sunday Scaries.
Your time is limited and precious, and you should do everything in your power to make sure you’re not allowing it to be stolen. It’s hard, it’s something you’ll have to work on every day, but it’s worth it. You’re worth it!
Comment time . . . Let your circle know what the contributing factor of your Sunday Scaries is. What’s one action you will commit to so that you can take control of that factor?
Only Have 1 Minute
The Sunday Scaries are affecting a frightening number of Americans, Jeanette Settembre, Marketwatch.com, 10.28.18
Your Guide to Winning @Work: Decoding the Sunday Scaries, Blair Decembrele, Linked In, 9.28.18