Use 'Blue Monday' as motivation to boost your career
Are you having a bad day today? If so, join the club. It is, after all, Blue Monday.
Based on calculations on a number of factors such as the weather, debt level and failing new year’s resolutions, the third Monday in January is perceived to be the most depressing day of the most depressing month of the year.
Hang in there, though, because things aren't quite as doomy and gloomy as they sound.
Indeed, according to Corinne Mills, managing director of Personal Career Management and author of Career Coach: How To Plan Your Career And Land Your Perfect Job, there are steps you can take to beat the Blue Monday blues.
Work out what's not working
"First of all, you need to work out what's not working career-wise," says Corinne.
"Sometimes you just feel kind of fed up with your job - and supposedly these feelings are intensified on Blue Monday. But actually, it might be that your job kind of works but there's just something you're not too keen on, or someone at work has irritated you.
"Sometimes there are small tweaks that you can do that can make a difference,” she continues. “The solution isn't necessarily 'out there somewhere', it can be right under your nose.
“The first thing to look at is, 'What are the small wins?' What can you do today that might make a difference? That might be having a bit of a constructive chat with the colleague who's been irritating you for months.
“You can rehearse this beforehand and make it a clear-the-air conversation.
Say something like: 'I'm making new year resolutions for 2018 and I'd really like to talk to you about how best we might work together in the year ahead'.
“It's something positive and constructive - but actually, it sets the tone for going forward.”
Straighten things out
Equally, you might be resenting something your manager has done - and Blue Monday can be the day you straighten things out.
“Go and have a civil conversation with them to express a little bit how you are feeling,” says Corinne. "Just make sure you're not angry when you have these talks - and make sure you rehearse it beforehand.
“Again, I think that clearing the air, rather than harbouring the 2017 resentment, is good for 2018. So make Blue Monday the day you tackle these issues.”
Not just Blue Monday, but January in general, is peak time for people thinking about changing jobs.
According to Corinne, this is all perfectly normal.
“There's all kinds of reasons why this is the time many are having these thoughts,” she says. “Yes, January is dark and depressing - but new year is all about change and good intentions and forward-looking.
“I think it's a really natural time for people to be thinking about these things, whether people call it 'Blue Monday' or not.
Get your house in order
“Another thing is, you've just had two weeks, or a week, away from work and sometimes it's the time away from the daily grind that gets the career muscles flexing and has you thinking you might want to stretch them in a new direction.”
Whether you are looking for a change of job or not, Corrine recommends making Blue Monday the day you get your house in order career-wise.
“One of the things you can do on Blue Monday is set yourself a career action-plan,” she says. “Write down the things you would like to be different in the year ahead.
“Certainly on everybody's agenda should be some skills development. So this year, commit to doing something that’s going to update you. Add a new skill - because everybody needs to be agile.
“After all,” she adds, “if you are going to be looking for another job, one of the things an interviewer is going to be asking is 'how up to date are you - and are you committed to learning?
“I would also say, see if you can get yourself involved in any change initiative at work. Because going forward, it's all about change. Nothing is about maintenance anymore. Change projects. Volunteer your services. And so on.”
Perfect time for a change
If it’s not just a ‘Blue Monday thing’ and you really do want a change of direction in your working life, this is the perfect time to set the wheels in motion.
“If it's really not working where you are, then go and look at five or six job descriptions for the kind of role you're interested in doing next and bench mark them against where you are now,” says Corinne.
“If there are any gaps, then commit to 2018 that you're going to work to bridge those. Make Blue Monday the day you start the process. Update your CV. Get the Linkedin sorted.
Those looking to climb the career ladder can also turn Blue Monday into a positive day, according to Corinne.
"Maybe arrange on Blue Monday to have a coffee with someone you haven't seen for a while,” she says. ”Ideally, someone quite well-positioned in your industry.
“Just check-in with them. You never know where it will lead. That way, you're putting a penny in the goodwill career bank on Blue Monday that you might be able withdraw later on.”
Some argue that Blue Monday is a load of old rubbish, but if it inspires you to kick on in your career, who cares?