Do you ever feel a deep-seated resistance to work? Some say we Americans live to work rather than work to live, but what about those days when your body and psyche rebel? I offer here a few things to consider so you can do a quick inventory and find a way to get going again.
Why it might be happening: On certain days of the week we call it “The Mondays” because of those previous two days in which we got to relax, kick back, and enjoy ourselves. If your weekends (on whatever days they may be) are sedentary, with feet propped up in front of the TV or with a book, then motivating yourself on your next day back can be extra hard.
Something to try: We learn Newton’s laws in high school physics class or a helpful documentary along the way, including this one: a body at rest tends to stay at rest, and a body in motion tends to stay in motion. A couple of years ago a helpful pharmaceutical commercial emphasized just how much this applies to human bodies as well as bodies in space. With this in mind, the remedy comes into focus: One way to stop having “a case of the Mondays” with such predictable regularity is to increase your activity over the weekend. Sports, DIY projects, volunteering, or other active past-times with family or friends can keep you engaged with life and moving forward with purpose, so by the time Monday rolls around you can actually feel refreshed and energized instead of motionless.
Why it might be happening: The Gallup Organization has identified twelve reasons why people lose engagement at work. When these start to falter, our interest in our work falters along with it. Take a look at the Gallup Q12 and ask yourself how you would respond to those statements. They can point you in the direction of what needs your attention in order for you to re-engage.
Something to try: After you review the Q12 list, identify the items that seem important to you. Some of them may feel like they are out of your control, such as “In the last seven days I have received recognition or praise.…” However, if you truly feel that this is what you need to re-engage, look for opportunities to make that happen for yourself. This takes creativity and some emotional fortitude, but basically you just have to ask–and maybe ask a lot.
If it’s something you really can’t influence (“the mission of my company makes me feel my job is important”), make a note of that for something you might need to make a change around.
Why it might be happening: Sometimes we disengage to protect ourselves from feelings of unworthiness, which can be overwhelming. This can happen to anyone, and it strikes in a variety of circumstances. I’ve listed just a few below:
- New job or career;
- Lost a job;
- New role in the same group of people;
- Performance reviews;
- A harsh comment;
- The people you care most about don’t acknowledge how important something is to you.
There are so many more.
This feeling of unworthiness can go by many names, including impostor syndrome, shame, nerves, or anxiety. If we don’t have a name for what we’re feeling, it might manifest as a hollow or wired feeling, jealousy, intense pain that gets channeled into anger or makes us withdraw, or feeling “down” or tired.
Something to try: If this section is resonating for you, you can actually take some action to heal. The research done by Brené Brown on wholeheartedness and vulnerability offers some guidelines to learn and put into action:
- Recognize what you are feeling and name it. Acknowledge the pain it is causing.
- Recognize that it comes from believing messages that suggest you aren’t worthy. Those messages may be coming from sources you trust, but they aren’t realistic or correct. You are allowed to choose not to believe it.
- Find someone to talk to, but choose this person carefully. Select someone who has earned the right to hear your stories by listening with empathy. They don’t try to fix it for you, but can just listen and understand how you feel about it.
Just as it takes wisdom to find the right person to talk to, it also takes courage to talk about these feelings. But talking about them–simply sharing the story with an empathetic listener–transforms the story from an episode that separates you from others into an experience that connects you with someone else.
Knowledge is power. We need each other, and we also need to recognize our opportunities to act on our own behalf. If you find it hard to get going–whether it’s a Monday, a Wednesday, or a Friday–do a quick inventory. Have you being going slower and slower instead of keeping up an active pace? What does the Gallup Q12 suggest to you might be going on? Or, are you believing messages that suggest you aren’t worthy of belonging?
If you take some steps to take care of your own needs–including reaching out to ask for what you need from others–you can return to a more engaged, productive, and enjoyable life. What is one thing you can do for yourself today?
Edited To Add: This week a friend pointed out an element missing from this list: Perfectionism. Perhaps this comes under the heading of feeling worthless, but I think it’s more associated with fear. When we procrastinate, it’s frequently because we’re afraid of doing a poor job. For myself, I’ve learned that it helps to seek feedback from someone who isn’t caught up in my fears. What works for you?