When your alarm clock goes off on Monday morning, are you ready to jump out of bed and embrace the new week ahead? Or would you rather hit the snooze button and forget all about another week at the office?
If you fall into the latter category, life coach Colene Elridge says that’s a sign that can point you to new opportunities.
“We dread [work] because we are living a life that we are not supposed to be living,” she says. “If you are living within your purpose, you don’t dread Mondays – you just don’t.”
Elridge is the owner of Georgetown-based Be More Consulting and the author of the new book, “Monday Morning Pep Talks.” She appeared on KET’s Connections to discuss how she helps individuals and companies be the best versions of themselves.
If you hate Mondays, you’re not alone. Elridge says studies indicate that nearly 60 percent of Americans dread the start of the work week.
To help these Monday mourners, Elridge decided to write weekly essays that would inspire people. What started two-and-a-half years ago as emails to five people, including her own mother, has grown into Monday Morning Pep Talks that go out to several thousand followers. She says she wants to show her readers that “Mondays don’t have to suck.”
“I found that people really want that little boost of energy right when they get up in the morning,” she says. “It’s a great way to start your Monday, it’s a great way to start your week, and I just feel really fortunate that I’ve been able to do it this long.”
Elridge collected those weekly essays into her new book, “Monday Morning Pep Talks: Inspiration to Make Your Week Thrive.” Even though her essays are short, Elridge doesn’t want people to read the book cover to cover.
“If you sit down and read it all at once, you’ll get really overwhelmed,” she cautions. “It’s kind of this inspiration overload where then you think, ‘I don’t know what to do first,’ and then that feeling… causes you to not to do anything at all.”
Instead, she suggests opening the book to a random page and trust that whatever text you land on will give you the inspiration you need at that moment in your life.
Build a Life of Purpose and Passion
To move beyond the dread of Mondays, Elridge suggests reflecting on the values that inspire you and then figure out how to live out those values in your daily activities. For example, Elridge says one of her core values is fun, so she has found ways to incorporate fun into everything she does, even in her work as a corporate trainer and life coach.
“One of the reasons that fun is so important for training is it elevates the energy of people that are participating in the training,” says Elridge. “When their energy is raised, they’re going to remember more.”
Living out our values contributes to a life of purpose and passion, Elridge says. Or to put it another way, you only get one life, so make sure you’re living the life you want.
But doing that isn’t always easy, especially when it comes to changing very old patterns of thinking.
“We got these rule books from our parents and from society,” says Elridge, “and we play by these rule books that are no longer really serving us, and so for me, it’s reminding people you can say ‘no’ to that. Just because you’ve always done it that way doesn’t mean you always have to continue to do it that way.”
Here are some other tips that Elridge offers to help you align your life with your values.
– “No” can be a complete sentence. Elridge says people, but especially women, don’t have to always explain or justify a decision. And they don’t have to automatically accede to any demand made of them at work, at home, or at school.
– Are you choosing or are you settling? Elridge says it’s different to pursue a life based on intentional choices, rather than settling for whatever comes along. She acknowledges that it’s scary to choose because that means you have to own the outcome of that choice, whether it’s good or bad.
“It’s this awareness of this is what I say I want, and if this is what I really want, then what do I have to do to get it,” says Elridge. “It’s a lot of work and it requires you to become comfortable with being uncomfortable.”
– Self care is important. Effective leaders, especially women in leadership, make time to care for themselves and ensure their physical and mental health and their happiness.
– Therapy is a good thing. If a client has an issue that’s beyond Elridge’s life-coaching skills, she will recommend counseling. She says seeing a therapist is just like going to any other doctor, and if society talked more openly about therapy there would be less shame attached to it.
Implications for Employers
Elridge also does a brisk business in corporate training sessions on sexual harassment prevention, intergenerational workplaces, and leadership and communication skills. She says millennials and digital natives (those people born in the 1980s and 1990s) bring very different expectations and ways of communicating to their work. That can create tension with older employees who have their own distinct workplace habits.
“So much of conflict happens because of miscommunication,” says Elridge. “When you can get people communicating in the same language, it really does improve leadership, it improves the quality of teams, it improves the results that you get for an organization.”
Elridge says she believes generational cohorts will grow smaller as technology continues to advance more rapidly. She says the millennial generation will likely be divided into two, simply because someone born in the early 1980s has had different life experiences than someone born closer to the year 2000.
Younger workers also want to move beyond long-established procedures to find new ways of doing things that may be faster and better. And they want a workplace that allows more flexibility, whether that’s working non-traditional hours or working from home or other remote locations.
That’s left some companies struggling to adapt, according to Elridge.
“I see so many [businesses] just burying their heads in the sand, pretending like these changes don’t have to happen,” she says. “So many companies just want to throw money at the problem: We can’t keep millennials, let’s just give them more money. And millennials are saying, ‘I don’t care if I’m going to make more money… This is not the culture I want to work in.’”
Elridge says millennials are less likely to accept traditional definitions of work because they saw their parents and grandparents devote themselves to a single career or one employer their entire lives without getting much in return. Instead, younger workers are more willing to try different things, develop their personal “brands,” be entrepreneurial, and leave jobs that don’t fulfill them.
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