Growing up, Sunday night was one of my favourite times of the week. We would have a nice family dinner, and relax after the weekend. My Mum (who’s a Presbyterian minister) would be finished with church; no one would have extra curricular activities; there was often something good on TV.
When I was at University, Sunday night was for catching up. My part time job meant I worked all day Saturday and Sunday, so on Sunday night I had to work on notes and assignments, and prepare for the week ahead. But it was always quite calm, and was a bit of a change from the hectic weeks.
But as I’ve grown into the world of work, my Sunday nights have become less and less positive. There have been jobs I liked, where Sunday nights were fine – a time for winding down. And then there have been jobs I don’t like, where Sunday nights are less than ideal. They start off okay, but at some point, usually about 7pm, my mind switches over. I switch out of laidback-leisure mode into worried-work mode. Before I even get back to work for the week, I start to stress about it. Not usually about anything in particular – I could understand fretting about a big presentation or important report – just generally feeling tense about the week ahead.
And for me, this is a pretty big sign that I’m in the wrong job.
And when I arrive at work on Monday, there are even more signs in the conversations with my colleagues. I start off with a “How are you?” – pretty standard. Not too creative, I’ll admit, but plenty of potential answers. But the responses I get tend to follow a pattern: I get “Not bad – only 4 days til Friday!” or “Well, I was better yesterday, of course”. Or if I kick off with “How was your weekend?” it’s “Nowhere near long enough…” or “It was great – 2 days of freedom! Now back to the grindstone.”
This is pretty typical, I think, of many modern work places. And mostly people think nothing of it. But for me, it’s a concern. Why are so many of us toiling away at jobs we dislike? How is it affecting us to be constantly clock-watching and dreaming of the weekend? How can we positively impact our communities when we’re spending 80% of our time at such negative workplaces? What can we do to shift towards a more positive work paradigm?
I don’t have answers to those questions. Not for me, and definitely not for anyone else. But I plan to find out a bit more during my time off, and use the answers to guide me in my future choices. And whatever choices I make, I’m hoping I’ll be back to Sunday nights that are for relaxation and family, and are a time where I look forward to the week ahead with excitement, rather than dread.
I’m claiming my Sunday nights back. Starting now. Who’s with me?