Reflections on the special snowflake day of the (work) week that seems to get all the attention
Mondays are a funny topic. The infamous Monday is probably one of the most talked about and controversial days of the week for many people all around the globe – to some, it even provides fuel for entire discussions on life philosophy. I will come back to that in a minute.
A self-assessed fact regarding this polarizing day, as I have come to observe, is the following: When people talk about Mondays and whether they love, hate, or do not mind them, they talk about much more than a simple unit of time and often reveal personal truths way more far-reaching.
My reflections on Monday mostly stem from the fact that today is a special Monday for me. It is the first Monday after I officially left my job and went on holiday leave, hence having left my work place for good, so I can finally experience some freedom before the next chapter of my journey accompanied by required attendance and duties begins next month. Thus, during this much needed break I will finally have some more time to think, reflect, digest the past few months or years, read, write, create and get inspired.
This Monday has been the most carefree and feel-good (Mon)day in a long time. With this newly won freedom in mind, as I scrolled through my feed on various social media platforms, especially twitter and Instagram, I noticed how many posts today were dedicated to the sole topic of Monday (please see the corresponding diagram below based on the quick Instagram research I conducted to illustrate my observations) – but even more so, how many of them were based on themes such as "10 tips for getting through Monday fast/well/alive" or "Monday motivation" or "yay, we made it through Monday!". Essentially, those posts often carry an underlying, subtle yet clearly negative connotation beneath the surface that Monday, and the following work week in general, is something dreadful, annoying, which we usually have to "endure", so that at the end of the week we can claim "woohoo, Friday has finally arrived!".
This observation was quite surprising to me, since modern motivational guides, self help books and various career advice mediums stress the importance and luxury of today's job markets supposedly enabling many of us to choose professions and organize our respective working days in a manner that makes Mondays not just bearable but actually exciting, intrinsically motivating and a whole load of fun. So, why are those moan-y Monday posts still so popular and widespread?
One potential explanation for this might be that many people of the working population, particularly those well into their career carrying an array of responsibilities and having spent years or even decades in a certain profession, sometimes even at the same company, have a different outlook on their careers in general and their decision-making process is shaped by a different set of values, conditions and thought patterns. They cannot just drop out of their current job or profession, even if they face unlucky circumstances or seek more purpose and fulfillment in their careers. But are those even part of the target group which all those social media posts and blog articles floating around intend to address?
Nonetheless, the “dreadful Monday” hype is fertile ground for sociologists. Another argument for the continuously popular Monday post waves could be more deeply rooted in a quest for identity and companionship. As humans we constantly look for belonging and meaning in our lives, and identifying with thousands or even millions of strangers – across countries, cultures or regimes – can serve this purpose without much effort and cost; we simply have to open one app in our phones.
Moreover, those posts, though often phrased in a pessimistic fashion, in most cases also have an ironic and light-hearted tone to them. This way, they can serve as a simple outlet to take our professional lives and corporate environments with a twinkle in the eye and a chuckle. They help to remind us that life should not always be taken that seriously and we can laugh at ourselves and our situations as a means to process difficult situations with co-workers, bosses or customers. (Which is not to say it should be laughed off or ignored.)
At the same time, as entertaining as those phrases and sarcastic quotes may be at a rough Monday morning while sipping on a cup of particularly strong coffee, modern workplaces should not be a battleground or a cause for unhappiness, sickness and – taken to an extreme – burnout. It lies in the hands of today's corporate leaders and shapers of the modern workplace in Western social market economies as well as ours as a society to create environments in which individuals can thrive and realize their full potential through feeling fulfilled and treated adequately, while also being sufficiently compensated.
During recent months I have experienced once again how important those principles and values are in order to sustainably evolve both individually and in a collective. I was reminded that no amount of money or “corporate benefits” can substitute simple joy and fulfillment at work, and that one’s personal well-being should never be compromised at the expense of outward appearance, reputation or numbers in your bank account.
Too often, as I smiled at one of these Monday posts, I was equally thinking how I define personal success by the amount of excitement I feel not just on Sunday evening but every day of the week to get up in the morning and to look forward to another day (of work or leisure). As I have taken the next step towards this reality by going into a different route career-wise, I hope everyone gets to experience this, one way or another, so they can eventually and wholeheartedly proclaim that “woohoo, Monday has finally arrived!”