I’m in a slump. I’m sure you’ve been here, or maybe you are in one too?
How do I know I'm in a slump?
My batteries feel flat, focus is elusive and I am drawn to my couch like a moth to a flame. Your symptoms may be different, but you know you are not operating at your best.
What’s really embarrassing about this, and causing me some guilt, is that I am an author on personal development and self-leadership—surely, I shouldn’t be in a slump?
The surprising fact is, I don’t want to get out of my slump, well not yet anyway! I am like the man who is happy at the bottom of a hole, you see I both know the way out and I know the benefit of being in the hole.
Mostly I maintain pretty high-energy. Zest is, in fact one of my strengths, but when we are "go, go, go" we can miss the subtle things. So I am accepting my slump. Why? Because it’s my slump. Nobody did this to me. It’s my body signaling me something, and in accepting that I can get the message.
Often we force ourselves to push through low performance, but if it really is a slump, the best strategy is to call it. By naming and owning your slump, ultimately you put yourself back in control.
Everything in life has cycles, the weather, the stock market, and your energy levels. The secret of success is to ride the cycle, and benefit from the down-time. So I’m in a slump and you maybe you are too, so what’s the benefit?
It’s time to reflect, to regroup, and to decide on what’s important and what’s not. Use your slump to nurture yourself and become aware of what really matters to you. When you have answered this question, and given your body some rest, do the following:
1. Laugh and have some fun. Laughter changes your outlook by releasing "feel good" chemicals in your brain. My new discovery is a big foam pit at a local trampoline park. I go and jump in this thing, and it cracks me up.
2. Move! This may have been taken care of by No. 1, but it’s essential to get off the couch and stand up straight. In the dictionary, slump and slouch have pretty much the same definition. When you change your posture you change your outlook. Stand confidently and you will become confident.
3. Do something that scares you. Another way to kickstart your way out of a slump is to do something that scares you. Bungee jump, hold a snake, ask your boss for a raise, or call that prospect that intimidates you.
“When you change your posture you change your outlook. Stand confidently and you will become confident.”
4. Remove distractions and overwhelm. Is your inbox out of control? Do you have a to-do list a mile long? To begin to get out of a slump, you need to do just one thing and get it done. What's the one thing you can do today?
5. Celebrate even the smallest victory. Depending how bad your slump is, just getting out of bed and taking a shower could be a victory. Often we got into a slump by overwhelming ourselves with so much to do. If you took step No. 4 you can now have a little celebration and perhaps give yourself a reward.
6. Get inspired. Everyone has hit a slump at some time or read about others who have faced adversity and come out the other side. Watch a "feel good" movie, go to a seminar or just hang out with people with a positive attitude.
7. Do something for someone else. Slumps take us into ourselves, properly handled they provide introspection, but they can make us a bit self-centered for a while. To overcome this, do something nice for someone else with little thought of how this will benefit you—the results will be surprising.
So there you have it, seven ways—but what about the one reason why not to.
Well I sort of covered this at the beginning of the article—if you force yourself out of a slump without doing the requisite resting and reflection, the slump will likely return only worse. Funny thing is that I feel more focused now!
Andrew Bryant is a motivational speaker, executive coach and author of "Self-Leadership: How to Become a More Successful, Efficient and Effective Leader from the Inside Out." Andrew has inspired and informed audiences as large as 12,000, facilitated breakthrough-learning sessions for senior leaders and been the coach for C-level executives of Fortune 500 companies. Sign up for his newsletter and receive a free chapter from his book: www.selfleadership.com/free. Connect with Andrew on LinkedIn and Twitter.