It's Friday. I'm sitting on a park bench as the sun dips below the Boston skyline creating a symphony of colors in the sky.
It's fall. The naked trees stand in sharp contrast against the pallid sky and the lights of the office buildings behind twinkle through the branches forming a teaser to the night sky to come.
It's a beautiful scene.
But instead of appreciating it for everything it is, all I can think about is how my week SUCKED.
I didn't do anything I wanted to get done, in fact I barely even got out of bed as I successfully binge watched 4 years worth of quality television in 4 days, emerging only when there was nothing left to watch.
Where did it all go so wrong?
The truth is... It didn't.
Not really, anyway. At every point in that week I could have picked myself up and gotten back on track. But I just kept sinking deeper and deeper into the blankets, refusing to come up.
On that first day when things didn't go according to plan, I just wrapped myself up in a protective cocoon and told myself the rest of the week was doomed to failure.
Well, I was right. But only because I stopped trying.
What happened on that first day?
So if anything did go wrong, it must have happened on the first day. What happened?
I've written in the past about bad days. When you have a bad day, you feel frustrated, hopeless, sad or angry. You feel raw, maybe even defeated. But you feel something, and that means you care.
What happened to me on that first day was not a bad day. I didn't care about anything. I didn't want to do anything, I couldn't even muster up the energy to feel guilty about not doing anything. I was numb, probably burnt out, a little tired and just about ready to call it a year and move on to the next.
That first day was a Tuesday.
What's in a Tuesday?
Every day of the week has some characteristic. Every day, that is, except Tuesday.
Mondays are the start of the week. We're either excited for or dreading what the rest of the week holds while nursing a responsibilities hangover from the two day vacation.
Wednesdays are the midway point of the week. A day to take a breath before diving into the remainder of it.
Thursdays are the begining of the end of the week.
Fridays.... Well, TGIF. And I don't need to tell you about Saturdays and Sundays.
But Tuesdays... They're not the Dreaded Mondays, or the Blessed Fridays, or the Almost-there-Thursdays.
They're just.... Tuesdays. Not good not bad, just another day in the week. Nothing exciting ever happened on a Tuesday.
Which brings me to...
... A week full of Tuesdays.
What went wrong for my week is that I was expecting it to be a good week. I had all these plans laid out for what I was going to finish, and when I was going to do each thing. I was motivated and confident on Monday night. But when I woke up on Tuesday morning, I woke up as a different man.
The losses of Tuesday quickly spiraled into a futile Wednesday, a hopeless Thursday and a wasteful Friday as I doomed the rest of the week to failure before it even began because that first day didn't match up.
The truth is, most days of the week end up being Tuesdays. Our lives would be an emotional rollercoaster if they didn't, and you can probably count on one hand the number days in the last month something truly exciting or terrible happened.
So in a week full of Tuesdays, how do you keep moving?
As I found out in that week, it's easy to drown in the sea of missed expectations and failed potential. But staying afloat means being able to tread water even when everything isn't going as hoped.
We're constantly being sold this idea of "our potential", and we buy into it. Every time we achieve something, we set the bar for our "potential" at that and consider everything less as a failure. I still have fond memories of that one day I was able to work for 15 hours straight and finish off in one day what would normally have taken three. But there's no way I could repeat that feat on a regular basis, and it's foolish to expect myself to even try.
However... That doesn't mean I shouldn't try at all. If I managed 15 then, maybe I can attempt 7 now. And if that doesn't work, try 5 or 3 hours. The point is to keep trying.
Set reasonable expectations: Sure you may have great potential, but make a realistic assessment of how you've been performing in recent times, and set a goal based on that. Don't be afraid to go too small. Achieving the one thing on your plan and feeling good about it is better than achieving 5 and failing 7.
Keep showing up: You only drown when you stop kicking. It doesn't matter what your goals are, what you're feeling, show up every single day. You may do only a tenth of what you originally planned, but it's still a tenth more than what you would have done if you didn't show up at all.
Give yourself permission to fail: You're not going to be able to achieve every target you set for yourself. That's a good thing. It means you're being ambitious. As long as you're consistently achieving a significant portion of your targets, you're doing something right.
The Silver Lining
A week full of Tuesdays is not the death sentence for productivity it seems like. Quite the opposite, in fact.
It gives you the opportunity to raise your game to the next level. Sharpen your skills on the whetstone of Tuesdays. If you can consistently show up on the average days and perform well, your "potential" also raises to the next level, as does your chance of meeting it.
So relish the Tuesdays. If you wake up in the morning without the will to raise those eyelids, do it anyway. See how that feels. That wasn't so hard was it? And it'll get easier every time.
If you keep at it, it won't be long before your Tuesdays are others' Fridays.