What to do when you hit a slump

I’ve gotten a few of these emails lately:

Hi Shawn. I’m in a major funk. Just not feeling like I want to do much of anything. Nothing is moving forward as I’d planned and I feel stuck. Any tips?

What to do when you hit a slumpSlumps are a normal part of doing business (and life). Everyone (yes, EVERYONE) has times where they don’t feel motivated, clear, productive or even perhaps interested in doing this business thing.

I find that many people have somewhat predictable periods when they hit a slump. I tend to hit mine in the mid to late summer, just before the kids go back to school and I’ll be resuming a busier work schedule. In the early years, before I noticed my pattern, I panicked every time I hit this period. I thought it meant something was really wrong with me and the business.

I’d scramble around trying to figure it all out and exhaust myself. Now I just ride it out with my basic ‘surf the slump’ plan. I have a few clients who have slumps every fall and a few others who find January to be their month. So when it hits, we’re not surprised and we know what to do. Which is quite a relief compared to the panic mode of the past.

Look back and notice when you tend to have yours. Is it fairly predictable? Do you see a pattern?

I also notice that slumps are really common after a few key life events. You’re likely to face a slump:

  • after a significant time away from business (like an extended vacation, illness, or time off for the holidays or personal matters)
  • after a period of intense work (like after a launch, major creative time, or important presentation)
  • following a time of high expectations (such as the New Year, a launch, big sales push)
  • around a milestone (like a milestone Birthday, Business Anniversary or achieving a big goal)

Slumps are often the result of lower than normal energy (you’re tired, it’s ok!) combined with higher than reasonable expectations. For example, if you have just come off of a major break and then you think you’re going to jump right back in to work at a super productive level to make up for it, you’re setting yourself up for a slump.

When you know your pattern or your trigger events, you can plan around it. Perhaps even welcome it as a time to step back and rest a bit. You can learn not to schedule any major ‘goals’ during that time. And you realize it really doesn’t have to mean anything particularly scary or permanent. You don’t have to totally revamp your business or dust off your resume. (Before you realize this your inner dialog might sound something like this: OMG, I’m in a slump. I don’t want to do anything. Nothing is working! It all feels like a drain. I can’t seem to get anything done. Business isn’t coming in. What if I never recover? What should I do? I’m going to go out of business! Wait. Do I even WANT to be in business for myself? Well what will I do then? Crud. I don’t know what to do. What’s wrong with me?! )

So what do you do when you’re smack in the middle of a slump, and you just can’t see your way through it?

  1. Breathe. Remind yourself…this is temporary. You can relax and not let it mean more than it has to. This too shall pass. Just like the seasons. Or the moon phases.
  2. Reflect and listen. This is a great time to also do some journaling about what’s up for you. What is feeling so heavy and draining? What is feeling clear? What is feeling light and easy and interesting? Notice what’s here and write it down.
  3. Take action on the things you know work…ask yourself what you can do that tends to work with relative ease and predictability. For example, one of my clients knows that she can focus on speaking, referrals and client renewals during her down times. They work consistently to bring in new business and they don’t require a ton of output energy to make happen.
  4. Open up to receiving. Trust that when opportunities don’t pan out, it’s because something better is on its way. Stay focused on what is clear to you (what you know you want) and don’t move into panic or desperation.
  5. Take on one “passion project” that gives you energy and that you WANT to be doing. Maybe it’s not business related at all. That’s fine. Do something just because you WANT to do it and it motivates you. You need some extra feeding of energy and enthusiasm during a slump.
  6. Create space. Clean up space somewhere in your physical environment…your office, a closet, desk, computer….get rid of some clutter to open up space to breathe and receive.

If you’re in a bit of a slump right now, rest assured it’s normal and temporary. Try some of the tactics shared and see if that relieves some of the stress and worry for you.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on what works for you when faced with a slump in business and your motivation to do much about it? Be sure to share in the comments below.

One Response to What to do when you hit a slump

  1. Rosella Young says:

    Hello, Shawn. Oh, yes, slumps are a reoccurring event for me. I tend to get them after a big event. I’ve learned to take advantage of my slumps. I take this time to rest and take time out for myself. Anywhere from 2 weeks to a month. This allows my energy to build up again and I feel ready to go. Of course, while I’m in this wonderful slump time, I’m thinking of new ideas, researching articles, reading what other people are doing, and maybe go to one good networking event that I know will lift my spirits. I have lunch with a friend for no reason, have fun times with my husband, volunteer for others in my community, and just plain not worry about anything. Usually after doing these things for a while, I pull out of my slump and get back to business. Thank you for sharing your ideas. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one dealing with slumps. I may not have known it was that common for most people. So I feel better just knowing that. Thanks again. Take care. Happy Valentines Day! Rosella Young, AA-1 Designs, Invest in your shelf!

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