I find Monday morning the most challenging time of the week. It is in the first few hours of Monday my mind drags up all my fears and doubts, reminds me of things left undone and new deadlines looming.
Garfield, from the comic strip of the same name, identifies Monday with disasters. It seems anything that can go wrong will go wrong on Monday. Garfield’s advice is to stay in bed until Tuesday.
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Awhile ago I worked with a professor in the business school at RMIT University. Stas would never meet, however, on Monday mornings or Friday the 13th and refused to get out of bed until the danger time had passed.
I find it easy to come up with excuses when I find myself going off track, and using external influences as the scapegoat is the simplest outlet.
I strive hard to eliminate excuses from my life. In C.S Lewis’s ‘The Screwtape Letters’ the devil writes to Wormwood, who is despairing of people who are perfect, and says something like ‘…positively encourage people to think they are perfect, for then they become full of pride and boastful. It is then we can claim their soul.’
I agree. It is the very moment I feel I know it all I fail. Is there a time when this is more likely?
Is there a right time?
A lot of science has gone into researching accidents and failures.
Probably the most costly mistake occurred in 1999 when NASA engineers failed to convert imperial measurements to metric. The error was only discovered as the spaceship approached the Martian atmosphere. This was a serious ‘ouch’ moment with lots of finger pointing and a serious accusation of sloppy work on one particular Monday morning.
The outcome of the inquiry, however, showed there was a systematic series of errors which led up to the final result.
Despite hundreds of scientific studies, no one has been able to say with any certainty that Monday is dangerous just because it is Monday, or Friday the 13th is dangerous just because it is Friday the 13th.
What has been discovered, however, is three things:
- Poor decisions are made when people are tired
- Accidents happen when procedures are not followed
- When things go wrong, people look for excuses
So what can you do to become a consistent performer doing something you love?
Have you set realistic goals and timeframes?
Setting big hairy audacious goals (BHAG) is a fine exercise. This style of goal is great if you are trying to move an audience, win an election or change the public perception of your company. It does not help on Monday morning when you realise the goal is a long way off.
Break down the goal into daily, weekly and monthly targets. The more you can break down the BHAG into a personal daily target the more you can use the goal to keep yourself motivated.
Know your excuses?
I know my weaknesses. One of them is getting going in the morning. Even after years of getting up early, if I allow myself to sleep in just one day I can quickly fall into old habits. If I am not careful I can hit the snooze button so often I miss my first appointment.
Prospecting and networking has always been a big challenge for me. I set myself a goal very early in my business and sales career to talk with someone I have never talked to before every day, even weekends. I do this despite the displeasure of my wife and daughter who find my outburst of conversation with strangers embarrassing. This outburst of embarrassment, however, has kept my sales pipeline full.
Have you shared your goals?
Sharing your goals with trusted colleagues will give you strong incentives to achieve. If you have a goal you really want to achieve there is nothing better than having a strong advocate on your side. If all the energy to keep going is internal you will eventually run out of fuel.
In my quest to get myself fit this year I shared my goals with my family. It was difficult to get going. As I started to falter towards the end they almost pushed me out the door to finish my running program. In all your big goals, having someone to push you on will give you the extra burst of energy to cross the finishing line.
How will you reward yourself?
What are you doing to reward yourself for each minor achievement? It is great you will get a big fat commission check or shareholding in the company, but what is keeping you going every day? I reward myself with short breaks in the park; reading; playing music. Whatever works for you, make it a reward for effort.
Today’s question and actions
What are your excuses? Do you have low energy times of the day or week? Here are a few things you can do:
- Take notice of your low energy periods. Most errors or mistakes occur in these times. If you need to make a decision when you are run down or tired, check in with the people you have shared your goals with.
- Set up a list of simple things you can do to reward yourself for achieving even small goals.
- Know what your excuses are. Celebrate every win.
Have a great week!