Hey, Sunday! What happened? You used to be the best day of the week. Now you’ve become one of the busiest, essentially a dumping ground. Everything we didn’t get into the previous six days has to be taken care of before the cock crows on Monday. Oh yeah, you are also now a de facto day for birthday parties, organized sports and other miscellaneous tasks. As I write this, it’s 1 p.m. on a Sunday and I find myself at a bounce house birthday party, a mere 25 minutes from my house. My wife and two daughters aren’t invited, so we’re split up on the one day that we’re supposed to be together. Shoot, I even scheduled a Cub Scout meeting this afternoon, as it was the only time that worked for the rest of the Den. Sunday, I want you back!
A CULTURE OF GO GO GO
“What do we have today?” That’s the question my three-year-old asked upon waking us this morning. In what can only be described as a Sunday miracle, this wake up call didn’t happen until 8:30 a.m. Apparently everyone was equally blasted (our kids are 8, 6 and 3) from the hamster wheel that we live on. This “miracle” came at the expense of going to church, ironically, which we couldn’t haul ourselves out of bed for…for the third week in a row.
Back to my daughter’s question, “What do we have today?” I’d consider it a sad commentary that our daughter thinks we have to “have” anything at all. Can’t we “have” one day where we “have” nothing? The fact is, our culture doesn’t slow down anymore. We don’t take breaks. Our work, the news cycle, our virtual connection to one another, it is all constant. Are we better off? Hard facts aside, I’d say anecdotally that in relation to our parent’s generation, our job satisfaction is lower, our outlook on the future is more bleak and our families are more broken. They took Sunday off, with us. Some of my best childhood memories took place on Sunday adventures with my family. Maybe if we take Sunday back we can start a healing process, and fix some of the ills we have created for ourselves?
Is taking Sunday back even possible? Yes, I do believe it is…but it’s going to take effort. From what I can deduce, taking Sunday back comes down to three things:
- Sticking to the principle that Sunday is important
- Having the discipline to stick to the principle that Sunday is important
- Vicious planning
I had the good fortune to hear Clayton Christensen speak last year on his book “How Will You Measure Your Life?” Clayton Christensen is a Harvard Business School professor, who is considered one of the foremost strategic minds of our day. If you’ve ever heard the term “disruptive innovation“, you’ve been exposed to him (it’s his original concept). Clayton is also Mormon, which regardless of your perception of Mormonism (or religion in general), it’s hard to argue that as a collective group their focus on the family is not admirable.
I am not a Harvard Business School graduate, but the room was filled with them. Many of these people run or finance the companies that we all work for. They’re rich and successful. Given the number of people in the room and their rapt attention, I’ll quote Bono and go out on a limb to say that most of those faces “still haven’t found what they are looking for.” They could, like the rest of us, use a Sunday.
Sunday is a day, but also a state of mind.
Clayton shared an anecdote from early in his career, when he was working for a prestigious management consulting firm. His manager had asked him to work on a Sunday, as they had a large team presentation to prepare for the following Monday. Well, given his faith, Clayton did not work on Sundays. Exasperated, his boss asked him if he could meet on Saturday. Unfortunately, Clayton told him, he and his wife had agreed that Saturdays would be reserved for activities with his children (as previously mentioned, Mormons take time for family). Clayton promised his manager that he would “work like a dog” Monday through Friday, but that his weekends were off limits. Saturday AND Sunday! In this instance, his team met on Friday and the subject of work on the weekend never came up again. Clayton has gone on to do just fine.
WE CAN DO THIS
Having a firm set of principles and sticking to them is a big component of getting Sunday back. Saying “no” to birthday parties, sports coaches and work requests requires fortitude, but we need to trust that the upside is far greater than the fallout. Remember how you felt the last time you took a spontaneous hike in the woods with a few few of your favorite friends? You can have that every week, and Sunday is the perfect day.
Given how busy we all are, having a Sunday every week will take planning. For example, today my wife and I frequently leave grocery shopping for Sunday. Shopping for a family of five, in a crowded grocery store, is a two hour affair better done by one person. If you and your partner map out the essential tasks for each week, like acquiring sustenance, then divide and conquer Monday through Saturday, you can knock them all out. I’m sure.
Depending on a variety of professional and personal factors, your “Sunday” could be any day of the week. Sunday is a day, but also a state of mind. Regardless, I’d like to urge us all to consider taking one day a week back, only for us and/or the ones we love. Use that day to recover and reconnect. The mad and relentless world in which we reside will be waiting eagerly for our return.
Can I, along with my family, take Sunday back? I smile, thinking about a scenario where my little girl wakes us up on Sunday morning in the future and asks ,”What are we doing together today?” When that happens, I’ll notify Clayton Christensen…on Monday.