When The Third Day Happens
The first day of something (at least when it’s something we chose to do) is fun.
It’s new. We like new. New is stimulating and exciting.
We get a chance to show and prove, which can lead to all kinds of benefits.
You’re locked in. We rarely suffer from energy or focus problems when first starting something.
Even the second day still feels new-ish. This new experience hasn’t calcified into habit yet; unconsciously we almost forget about it.
The human mind and body adapt to things very well, and also quickly. So, around day three, we already used to this new routine.
The new-car-smell novelty is gone. Which means excitement and surface-level motivations are no longer enough to get the job done.
We can do anything, even hard stuff, once or twice when we know that we’ll need to do it only once or twice. By day three, we realize: this is not gonna be all fun and games. This here is actual work!
If we’re not mentally and physically prepared for that work, our performance suffers on day three… and only gets worse as time goes on, until or unless we start doing pre-performance prep work that we may or may not be compensated for.
Everything about what we’re doing starts to become routine. When things become routine to us, we stop paying attention to detail. Small bite by small bite, we destroy ourselves from within.
This is the experience of The Third Day.
What is The Third Day?
At work or in sports, The Third Day is any situation where the newness and excitement has worn off, there’s still much work left to be done, and you are the one who’s expected to do it.
The Third Day can be a day in the middle of your work week or contract project, where it’s too far from the beginning to be new and too far from the end for you to believe that it is almost over.
The Third Day can be a sports practice in the middle of the season, a practice session that nobody — not even your coaches — wants to be at.
The Third Day can take up a whole month or year of your life, where the work is there to be done, but you could easily find a myriad of reasons to anything else.
As a mindset and mental approach, The Third Day is your decision to bring your attention to a focus and give your best effort, even when — especially when — you don’t quite feel up to it.
This is the discipline that separates the professionals from the amateurs.
Not money or contracts.
Not a job title or certain level of attention.
Not the company you work for or the number of followers you’ve amassed.
The professional isn’t defined by any of those things. A professional is a person who goes out and performs every time, regardless of how he/she is feeling.
The Third Day is about how you choose to approach your work, starting with your mental approach.
Why The Third Day Matters
Because, if talent was all that was needed to be a pro, 75% of current pros wouldn’t be there — not because they don’t have talent, it’s just that there are lots of non-pros who have more.
Because if we jumped ship to the new shiny object every time we were no longer excited about a project, the world would be filled with a lot of half-finished and half-assed products and people. As you’ve experienced, there are already plenty of both.
Because you’re in the midst of a Third Day right now, and you know the feelings I described above exactly.
What to Do Now
- Reconnect with your focus. We can focus on only one thing at a time. That’s our human limitation. Where in your life does being your best, make you one of the best?
- Decide where The Third Day is best utilized for you. You don’t need to bring The Third Day Mindset to everything you do — that would be mentally and emotionally exhausting — but you do need to decide on the most important areas in which you need to have it (no more than 3). And commit to never wavering in those areas.
- Look forward to The Fourth Day. That’s the cruise-control ease you feel in your work once you’ve made it through the toughest of The Third Days. Be forewarned: you won’t feel like The Fourth Day will ever happen while you’re dealing with The Third Day. But I promise you that it will.
- Stay tuned for my free Third Day Mini-Course, soon to come. What would you want in such a (mini-) course?
PS- I’ll be doing a live, free speaking event in Coral Gables (Miami) on June 22 at Books And Books. Register (it’s free) here, and bring a friend.