For the first time in my life, I get it.
I had spent a lovely weekend in London catching up with all my close friend & spending quality time with my family. That Sunday evening I flew back to Berlin for work on Monday morning. And it hit.
A wave of deep sadness & apathy crashed upon me as I sat squeezed into my Easyjet window seat. Sadness because I knew I would be spending the majority of my scarce resources – energy & time – on something I did not enjoy. Apathetic because I just didn’t care. I think at that point if someone had offered me a week off work if in exchange for deliberately contracting a horrible strain of flu, it would have been an easy decision.
This is the first time in my life this has happened. I would like to think that I make very deliberate steps in life: I joined this – and my last – company after 2 years of entrepreneurship because I felt there were specific things I could learn from the experience of joining more experienced startups.
Therefore, even when the work has been hard over the last year, I have enjoyed it & remained motivated enough to avoid experiencing the Sunday Blues.
This time was different however. Somewhere deep inside me I knew that this was no longer something leading towards my goals in life.
What really scared me about this experience is that some people will experience it every single Sunday for the rest of their lives. Assuming you work ~50 years, that means you will spend over 2500 Sundays (7+ years) of your working life in a state of dread, anxiety & depression, hoping that tomorrow does not come.
This is, in fact, the norm. It is accepted that you should do something you don’t enjoy for years on end because ‘that’s just life’. Well fuck that.
It is totally unacceptable for me not to enjoy every day; to not feel a sense of excitement at the thought of tomorrow. Everyday should be an exciting opportunity to build something of your own. Everyday should be building towards something meaningful in your life.
Never, ever find yourself saying your job or life is ‘good enough’, ‘fine’, ‘alright’.
“Every day you settle for just FINE, you’re losing out” – Ramit Sethi
You never take risks, you ignore opportunities right in front of you & always live in a world of hypothetical promises to yourself, like ‘I’ll just do this for a few years & then do something I enjoy.’ Sadly, most people never make it past the hypotheticals.
Even when others ask how we are, we are very good at disguising the truth. We project an external image of ourselves that exudes positivity.
Even more tragic, most of us internalise this belief, tricking ourselves into believing we are OK with our current situation despite the fact that there is a niggling voice in your head that says this is not OK, that you lack purpose, that you are, deep-down, unhappy.
Hold yourself to a standard
“If you don’t control your time- someone else will. If you don’t protect your dream- you will fulfill someone else ‘s dream.” ― Wayde Goodall
As humans, we have this infuriating tendency to rationalise our way out of doing something, whether it’s going to the gym or quitting your job. There are always a hundred excuses why not to make a change.
Just remember that not taking action is the same as taking action. It is still a decision you must make.
“Don’t fail by default.” ― Richard Paul Evans
To avoid the trap of inertia, set yourself certain standards in life – certain ‘if this then that’ scenarios that compel you to make change:
“When you raise your standards and turn “should” into “must,” you are making an inner shift to take control over the quality of your life. Any area you are not getting what you want is because you haven’t raised your standards.” ― Tony Robbins
By setting crystal clear standards for yourself, you set clear guidelines on what action must be taken in certain situations. For example, you could state that ‘If I am unhappy with my current job, I must change that job within 3 months’.
This means that, as soon as you start feeling unhappy, you have a written statement holding yourself to a certain standard: that it is unacceptable for you to not take clear action when you are unhappy in your job.
These standards provide not only a moral framework to live your life, but they prevent you rationalising your way out of taking action. This forces you to adapt & make change in order to live your life to a certain standard of happiness & fulfilment.
The standard I have set myself is that it is unacceptable for me to be unhappy in life.
The Sunday Blues have provided me with a clear signal that change is needed. I have set my own standards & defined a clear action: writing a blog & building this business for 2 hours every morning in order to be able to quit my full-time job in 3 months time.
What standards can you set in your own life? Which situations are you always able to find an excuse to not take action? What things make you unhappy? Uncomfortable? Morally-conflicted?
Whatever they are, just hold yourself to a standard, whatever that may be. You deserve better than living a life that is just fine. The fact is that we live in an exciting time to be alive. Despite the pessimism of the media, the world is a fascinating place of infinite opportunities. It would be a waste of life not to take advantage of it.