I haven't had the Sunday Scaries in more than two years. I don't share this as a brag. More to show how far I've come since leaving network TV and how it's possible to create a life (and business) you love.
For a long time, if the only thing I dealt with was the Sunday Scaries, I was doing well. I experienced workplace burnout twice: once in 2018 (fittingly when the term was first coined) and then again during the pandemic. Each time I would look at my colleagues and wonder "how are they able to be in the same work environment, facing the same stress and not go on a mental health leave?"
The short answer: they weren't trapped in my brain.
Negative thought loops were my default. And in many situations, I was rewarded for being able to see problems before the arose. It was seen as "risk management" and not "catastrophic thinking".
Then, everything changed. I found myself restructured. And I found the freedom to build a life where I look forward to Monday, and every day that has the potential to create.
The day I lost my job was a sudden and swift perspective shift. At the time I was at peak "everything is terrible. The world is a dumpster fire. Every meeting should be an email". I was disengaged from everything and everything was too hard.
When I was terminated, I was given 15 minutes to take what I needed from my work account before I lost access to it forever.
I had already mined my contact list (this termination was not exactly a surprise) and used those 15 minutes to update colleagues on works I had in progress. I didn't want my leaving to cause any disruption for the team. I did the same when I took a mental health leave.
After the 15 minutes were up and I lost access to my email and work calendar, I mentally cleared up my day. All of the obligations weighing me down disappeared. The weekly meetings and checkins, gone. Deadlines erased. My entire afternoon was suddenly wide open. All I could think of was one looming question:
"What am I going to have for lunch?"
This might seem like a small question, but it held the full weight of my new circumstances. When your calendar is packed and you're reacting to obligations set upon you, lunch is often overlooked. It's a quick sandwich you eat at your computer. Or something you skip altogether, you're so busy.
But that day? I had all the time in the world. I could make an elaborate meal and call it lunch. At the time we were still in lockdown, but if it happened today I could go out for a nice meal.
My calendar was wiped clean. Anything I added it to it was my choosing. This was how I entered the next phase of my life: being more intentional with my time and calendar.
Now this doesn't mean I only book things I've activated. I have client requests and networking opportunities that come to me. What it means is, looking at your calendar and seeing how everything in there has a purpose.
It means everything in there is something you chose. And you have the freedom to move things around. Address conflicting meetings and have a preference.
It means seeing the space in between obligations and knowing you do have all the time you need to get it done.
My intention practice has evolved in the past two years. But in the beginning it started small. Especially in the early days of McEwen Media when it was a side hustle and I worked at the CBC for a year.
The first intentional act when I found work again: I scheduled lunch. Every day at noon for an hour. Some days it's moved to 1 (some days 2). But it's an hour reserved for me to have the lunch I want that day.
How can you start taking control over your schedule? What is one small thing you can do with your calendar to start the week with intention?
Join me LIVE on Sundays to talk about how to combat the Sunday Scaries: Instagram @7pm ET and TikTok @7:30pm ET