Do You Have Sunday Night Blues? Your Core Career Needs Are Not Being Met

Research has shown that up to 76% of Americans suffer from a documented condition called Sunday Night Blues (reference:  Sunday Night Blues is an acute anxiety that creeps up on us as we begin to transition from the weekend to the reality of the impending work week.

I first experienced Sunday Night Blues early in my career.  My routine was to watch the show 60 minutes, which would normally air starting at 6 pm Sunday evening.  About six months into my job working with a firm, I found myself feeling down, even solemn, every time I heard the intro to 60 minutes – if you’ve seen the show you’ve heard the distinct clock ticking used to transition into the show and between segments.  I was associating the 60 minutes sound with the beginning of a new work week.  And since I dreaded my job, the 60 minutes sound triggered my weekly journey into Sunday Night Blues.  My own Pavlovian reaction.

Have you experienced Sunday Night Blues?

For many people it is triggered by a their Sunday routine.  we have heard of a myriad triggers for the Sunday Night Blues – from the ending of a Sunday football game, to certain music, to church services.

Why is this such a common, even normal, condition?

The answer . . . most adults are in the midst of a mediocre career.  In fact, our research has shown that only 3-5% of people have a consistently great career in which they are doing what they love and being rewarded for it.

The rest of us (95%-97%) have experienced, will experience, or are experiencing Sunday Night Blues.  That is the sad fact.  However, there is some good news – there is an anecdote to the Sunday Night Blues.  But it will require you to do some self-discovery and answer two simple but profoundly questions to surface your Core Career Needs.

  1. What do you love to do?
  2. What needs are being met when you do these things?

 When spending the time to answer these questions thoughtfully, the answer to the second question will surface the unique Career Core Needs that you have. 

 Answering these two questions was a career, even life, changing experience for me.  The first question (What I love to do?) was relatively easy.  The list of my passions took just a few minutes to generate and included:

  • Hiking
  • Riding my motorbike
  • Exploring new places
  • Developing and writing about new concepts
  • Carpentry – home based improvement projects
  • New experiences – from restaurants to parachuting
  • Supporting family and faith

 Then the second question – What needs are being met when I do these things?  This took more time as I had to really think about why I cared so much about these activities – the unique each need(s) each activity was meeting.  For me, there are two key Core Career Needs:

  • Need for freedom
  • Need to create something that lasts

 Surfacing these two core needs were what I needed to frame my career.  Looking back, my career fulfillment and success was directly and positively correlated with having these needs met.  When I was in roles that provided a level of latitude and/or a new product or service, I was both engaged and ultimately successful.  When I was in roles that I felt constrained and/or felt like I was in a routine and maintaining something, I ultimately dreaded going to work and was not successful.

 Others enjoyed the roles I dreaded, because they had different career needs – they valued, even needed, structure, predictability and routine.

 There are not “right” or “wrong” career needs.  But when we are misaligned with our needs, we pay the price.  We Dread Monday!

 What are your Core Career Needs?