May 18, 2024

When I was a lad, fresh out of college and working my first job in the hustle and bustle of New York City, it was an exciting time.

Everything was new…not all “good new”…given the fact that I wouldn’t have a month off from Christmas until the end of January anymore. 🙁

But new was exciting too…I was (barely) making enough money to pay for my commute to the city from my parent’s house (who needs more than that?) …because I got to soak up the sights and sounds of New York (“skyscrapers…and everything” according to Stevie Wonder), included with my minimum wage job.

With few responsibilities in my job or my life, there was nothing holding me back from being happy and broke.

Talk about being free from any burdens.

When I got my second job at Boardroom (and a hefty raise from $9,000 a year to $12,500 a year), I was sitting pretty.

Still with limited responsibilities…and I was able to move out of my childhood bedroom into a roach infested apartment in the city with a good buddy.


And given the size of some of those roaches, they should have paid rent…but alas, they only took food off the floor…for free.

That was “sitting pretty” in 1981.

By 1983, I took on real responsibilities with my job…no more playing around…getting regular raises as time went on…but then I encountered a new burden:

The Sunday Night Dread.

You’ve all experienced it at some point in your life…maybe you will experience it this Sunday.

It’s a feeling of going from the freedom of a no worries/no work weekend to “work prison” on Monday morning.

That is, everything you left on your desk on Friday is still there on Monday, untouched over the weekend.

But as someone who has lived to tell the tale, I will tell you it doesn’t have to be that way.

One reason, ironically, was that with more responsibility, “weekends” often became less free time and additional work time…because as I began loving my work (see below) Monday looked like any other day of the week.

That philosophy only increased with age…and today, every day is basically the same.

It’s become a 7-day work/leisure week.

Balance is overrated.

Making your work your play is not.

And this is not a discussion about workaholism either.

While I don’t want this to seem like a lecture on “living your best life,” consider everything here as tips and strategies to…well…live your best life…whether it’s Monday or Saturday.

It’s all about possibilities…and mindset.

Always keep your eye on the prize while enjoying the ride

Seems obvious…and it is…but it’s challenging.

Because in the early stages of your career, you are always looking towards the next big thing, making it hard to enjoy the present (“the ride”)

Everything is about your next promotion or raise…or if you are entrepreneurial, your next product, promotion, or new idea.

But when you focus on the process as much as the result, I guarantee you will enjoy your career a lot more…and in the process, avoid Sunday Night Dread (and other “Dreads” because you are not beating yourself up for not achieving greatness every 15 minutes).

Dan Sullivan, the top coach for entrepreneurs in the world, talks about “The Gap” (which pertains to entrepreneurs, but it can also be applied to non-entrepreneurs too).

In short, “The Gap” is where you are now and where you want to go in the distant future…a.k.a. “the horizon” …but if you are always walking towards the horizon (another version of “one day, some day”), you can never get there.

It’s impossible.

You only know that by trying to walk there.

The trick is to chunk down your work life into 90-day sprints…with achievable goals…and celebrate what you achieve each 90 days before moving on to the next 90 days.

In short, plan with shorter intervals and more milestones.

Five-year and ten-year plans be damned.

There’s a lot more to it and I suggest you buy Dan’s book on this topic.

For this post, it’s relevant to the idea of keeping your eye on the ultimate prize without obsessing about it every day…and enjoying the walk each quarter…and forgetting about the horizon.

Love your work

“Sure Brian…easy for you to say.”

And yes, it is easy for me to say this…but I believe that this is possible for everyone.

Sounds pollyannaish I know.

But since I didn’t love work from day one…and had consistent Sunday Night Dread early on…but ended up making my work my play…and no longer fear Monday morning…I need to believe that this is not a pipe dream.

When I graduated college, my parents said I could be an accountant or a lawyer…I became neither one…what a rebel.

For more about that story read my post, “Do what you love and the money might follow.”

In that post, I talk about incorporating your life passions into whatever you do.

After all, I was not voted in my high school yearbook to be the best list manager (i.e. like most people I met early in my career, I “fell into” this marketing thing).

But that’s not an excuse to abandon who you are…or to despise your work.

On the contrary, you have to work at loving your work.

I was a writer, a baseball umpire, a film critic, a teacher, a speaker…all of which are represented in my career as a direct response marketer.

It’s why I love what I do…and now you don’t need to read that post either. 🙂

And because of the pain I endured fighting for my right to forge my career, I was more determined to make it my own…and not loving what I did every day, became a non-negotiable (more about those below).

It’s why I encouraged both of my kids to chase their passions—my son in football coaching and my daughter in dance–with the result that they are both firmly committed to this Zen Buddhist Text, which was on the back of Marty Edelston’s business card (he was my ultimate mentor):

The Master in the art of living
 makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his education and his recreation, his love, and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence in whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he is always doing both.

I like to read this regularly…it’s on the wall in my office in a direct line of sight…I’ve shared it many times in previous posts…and if you become a “master in the art of living,” as a bonus, you will never experience Sunday Night Dread ever again.

You can also pass down to your kids the idea that they can love their work fully.

Keep a list of your non-negotiables at every stage of your career…with flexibility (yes, that’s a contradiction)

Saying that you will never “work for the man” (i.e. you were born an entrepreneur and can never work for anyone else) when you are 21, and just out of college, might be too severe of a non-negotiable.

Or maybe not.

The stories of billionaire entrepreneurs who never went to college, never worked for anyone, have a rags-to-riches hero’s journey, are spectacular to read about and admire.

However, sometimes working for someone else is a means to an end.

And all part of a master plan.

But you need to have a plan.

There are different ways to achieve your goal(s)…and flexibility (and patience) are some things to consider along the way.

Flexibility—which contradicts the notion of non-negotiables—simply means that there is a time and a place for every non-negotiable.

Non-negotiables can change with age, additional wisdom…or just life’s circumstances (and curves).

The key is to know when to go full throttle on your non-negotiables…and when to be a little patient…and again, enjoy the ride getting there.

Patience is a virtue…as is excellence…as is supreme achievement.

I’m not saying to ever give up on your dreams…but they can’t happen all at once.

There are two times:

  1. Now
  2. Not Now

And both are glorious.



P.S. Darcy Juarez, a veteran of marketing wars for decades (and a prized student of Dan Kennedy’s), has teamed up with Dan and another fellow soldier, Marty Fort, to create a one-time, free live event—a live cast—to celebrate their new book, The No B.S. Direct Marketing for Non-Direct Marketing Businesses.

Don’t let the title fool you.

It’s applicable to non-direct marketing businesses and seasoned direct marketing businesses alike.

We all need the basics…and refresher courses.

It releases next week…and this crack team of Dan, Darcy and Marty is hosting a FREE Live Training on May 21st titled:

21 Elite Marketers Share the ONE Strategy That Catapulted Their Business

Being one of the 21, I am inviting you to this exclusive event here.

I couldn’t narrow my strategy down to “one” …so I’ll have two…and with each speaker only having 10 minutes to spit it out, I will be talking fast.

But what else is new? 🙂

In the spirit of today’s blog post, you will recognize the passion and love for the business of marketing among all 21 of these speakers…they not only have chosen marketing as their career, but they also embrace it with the utmost enthusiasm and fervor.

And they want to teach what they have done with anyone who will listen.

You will recognize some of the 21 and not others…but all are experts and teachers of the highest order.

And their work is their play.

Which is to everyone’s unfair advantage who tunes into this live cast.

What: 21 Elite Marketers Share Their ONE Strategy… FREE Live Training

When: May 21st, 2024 – 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM EDT

Where: Join virtually from the comfort of your home or office (details sent after registration)

Price: FREE (Register Here Now)

Hope to see you there.

About the author 

Brian Kurtz

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