Waiting for Monday

It’s that time of year again. January 1st is looming and individuals all over the world are thinking about the changes they are going to make to create the BEST YEAR EVER in 2019. Many of these individuals identify health and fitness behaviors (fat loss, increased cardiovascular conditioning, muscle building, healthy eating, etc.…) as their target and set about preparing for January 1st with the vigor of a criminal going to the electric chair! Since they will commence being so *good* on January 1st, they decided they will get all the *bad* out of their system in the remaining weeks of the old year.

Coach AZ with you today for a topic that might feel a little familiar and therefore get uncomfortable for you. It seems that waiting for a perfect time is a very prevalent theme in the world today. However, I find especially in the fire service, there are always a plethora of excuses as to why someone can’t make a lifestyle change TODAY. I was recently making plans for a FD weight loss education group and looking for a date to start. The crew said we shouldn’t start early in November because of Thanksgiving. Then after Thanksgiving didn’t work because there was Friendsgiving, Christmas and office parties and holiday gatherings. In principle, I won’t start January 1st , but that doesn’t matter because early February is the Super Bowl anyway and then there’s St Patty’s Day, Cinco de Mayo, Memorial Day, Father’s Day, summer boating, July 4th, camping with the kids, kids back to school, Labor Day, Halloween and then…. oh shoot—it’s Thanksgiving again. Plus, we work every third Sunday and that’s brunch day and it’s not like we eat like that EVERY day, but we’re not missing out on our hearty brunch. Using this rationale, NEVER is a looking like a perfect time to start a wellness initiative!

Waiting for Monday (or January 1 or the nuclear $*#%^@ apocalypse) is a mental permission slip to put off making a change. To make sure we’re all on the same page here, this phenomenon occurs when people KNOW that they need to make a behavior change but insist on waiting for Monday (or insert other arbitrary deadline) to start the behavior instead of just starting it when it’s identified. It might go something like this—"Wow I feel cruddy when I don’t drink enough water. I really should drink more water. I’m going to drink more water…starting…Monday.” OR “I look and feel so much better when I get adequate sleep. I’m going to sleep more…. starting…. after St Patrick’s Day.” OR, “Damn, my gut is hanging over my belt and I had to let it out another notch. I need to get back into my fitness program! I’ll start after the holidays!”

Let’s zoom way out for a minute and then circle back and meet back here after a bit. One of the best lessons I ever learned was to touch mail one time. Say what? Yes, touch mail one time. Follow me here. The Nicor bill comes in the mail (along with all the other garbage) and you bring the stack in and put it on the counter. Later that day or a few days later, you pick up the stack again and you take the bill out of the envelope and it all goes back into the stack on the counter. Then at a future time you grab the outer envelope out of the cluster and put that in the recycling. Maybe that time you also throw away some of the catalogs and place a few bills you’ve gotten other days with the Nicor bill. A few more days go by and you take the stack of bills upstairs to your office. From there, maybe the bills get sorted into stacks based on due date. There they all sit together for a while until you get around to writing checks. Maybe you write out all the checks and place them with the bills, but don’t put them together in the envelopes to be mailed out. A few more days go by and you stuff and lick the envelopes, put the stamps on and then the whole stack goes and sits down on the counter awaiting the magical day when they will be put in the mailbox. By now you’ve touched that same Nicor bill ten or more times before it has ever actually gotten taken care of! {Yes, believe it or not, these humans that still receive paper bills in the mail and write checks exist. I am not one of these humans, but I have met them. 😊!!!}

Let’s compare this version, which I entitle the TAKE ACTION VERSION. The ComEd bill comes in the mail (we’ve REALLY got to get you doing e-billing, but that’s a whole other discussion!) and you bring it inside, open the envelope, put the envelope in the recycling, grab your checkbook, write a check, put it in the envelope, stick a stamp on it and put it right back in the outgoing mail. Or better yet, you grab your laptop right then and schedule the payment via your billing site. The bill has now been taken care of RIGHT THEN by touching it one time.

A necessary behavior was flagged: I need to pay a bill. And then you completed the action of paying the bill without procrastinating, making excuses or waiting for Monday. You didn’t pontificate with your spouse about “I really need to do a RESET with these bills. I think I’ll start my CLEANSE with these bills on July 1”, right? You just acted: bill came>paid bill>done with bill>move on.

Waiting for Monday is like touching your Nicor bill 10x. It’s counterproductive and a waste of time. Identify the problem (I need to plan and prepare my meals) and then start NOW with steps to make a change. Yes, I realize that you can’t create change out of thin air. Sometimes there is a ramping up stage before you can implement a new habit. But in the case of planning and prepping meals, you could go to the grocery store and get easy items you can implement right away while you’re ramping up for the big food prep project. No time to “prep” cut up vegetables before Sunday night (so you can start Monday, lol)??? They are available already at the grocery store (albeit for an exorbitant price), so you can start TODAY. There is always a way to start TODAY rather than waiting for an arbitrary starter’s pistol to go off.

In addition to putting off the positive behavior change, we humans also feel like we need to be as bad as we can possibly be in the interim. “Well hell, if I can’t drink beer and eat pizza starting Monday, I’m going to do it 4x between now and Monday including Sunday night at 23:59.” Worse yet, the inevitable happens—Monday starts strong, Tuesday is ok, Wednesday is so-so and by Thursday things are falling off the rails. What then? Oh yes! Start again fresh on……Monday.

Bottom line is this: Start now. Don’t wait for Monday. It’s lame and just another excuse which keeps you from reaching your goals. Here is a term you need to get familiar with: GETTING IN YOUR OWN WAY.

I find that clients that insist on waiting for Monday (or other arbitrary dates), end up in a relentless hamster wheel of falling off and starting over. Hello Monday, we meet again.

Are you a first responder that needs assistance with your health and wellness? FireSQ Fitness is standing by to help. Reach out to AZ@firesqfitness.com.

Coach AZ