I used to dread Sunday evenings even more than Monday mornings. On Sunday from about 4pm onwards I used to get a tight feeling in my stomach, thinking about what the coming week was going to be bring me. Mondays were better, because then you knew what you were dealing with: Sunday nights were worse because it was the anticipation of it (usually exaggerated) which was somehow more stressful.
I lost my appetite, found it hard to relax and enjoy the Sunday night comfort programming on TV, and generally used to retreat inside myself and feel a bit miserable. Slightly nauseous, an increased heart rate, and general loss of sense of humour. I’d lost my mojo. My kids could spot it a mile off even though I did my best to conceal it. They used to call it “Sundayitis.”
A survey by online recruitment specialist Monster reveals that 76% of working Americans suffer “Sunday Night Blues.” In Europe it’s not quite so bad, at 42%. I find this a scary number. It’s OK to experience this once in a while, perhaps at the end of a particularly great weekend, or if something really hairy is looming at you on Monday morning, but when you start to get it EVERY Sunday it might be a sign that something needs to change.
I used to get it when I worked in the food business and had 8 restaurants to manage. The restaurant managers all used to upload their week’s figures on Sunday afternoons, and once the numbers started coming in I would sit there working out how I was going to deal with the bollocking I knew I was going to receive from my boss the next morning.
(He was one of those who was never satisfied, and who told me on the day I joined to treat all my managers as “lying, lazy, thieving bastards – that way you’ll never be disappointed and will occasionally be pleasantly surprised.” I should have quit there and then. It took me 12 months of Sundayitis before I escaped, during which time I became depressed, took up smoking and contemplated suicide.)
These days Sundayitis can be even more extreme. My daughter used to work for a large London PR agency, and was regularly at her desk on Sundays in order to make Monday morning even vaguely manageable. She has done the right thing and quit, and is now going it alone as a freelancer.
Sameer Syed used to work for JPMorgan, and was a Sundayitis sufferer. He has some sound advice in his article on the subject:
“If you’re just clocking in and clocking out, that’s not how you’re going to succeed. Everyone knows that at bigger companies especially you have to show the value that you’re adding. You have to show the passion. You have to work on projects outside of your day-to-day. How do you do that if you’re not passionate or interested in your job? At that point, it just becomes a chore. At that point, you just become miserable.”
So if your Sundays are a bit miserable and you know you are stressing about the coming week, do something about it is my advice. You can recover your career mojo by some changes you can make, for instance by some renegotiation of your role or a crucial conversation with your boss. Or maybe you need to stop avoiding and take some more decisive action. Whichever route you choose, doing nothing is probably a bad idea.
I’m currently writing a book on the subject of mid-career mojo loss and what you can do about it. It’s called “My Job Isn’t Working!”, and will be out early next year. If you would like to contribute your experience in strict confidence I would be delighted to hear from you.