If you aren't in one now, it's a safe bet you've been in one before. How do you know when you're in a slump?
Your batteries feel flat, focus is elusive, and you're drawn to your couch like a moth to a flame. The symptoms differ slightly from person to person, but you know you're not operating at your best.
What's really embarrassing about this—and actually causing me some guilt—is that I'm an author on personal development and self-leadership. Surely, I shouldn't be in a slump.
It might surprise you to learn that I don't want to get out of my slump—well, not yet, anyway! I know the way out and I know the benefit of being in the hole.
Mostly, I maintain a pretty high energy level. Zest is, in fact, one of my strengths. But when we just "go, go, go" all the time, 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, and recognizing it is the only way to get that 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 downtime.
So, if you're in a slump, what's the benefit?
It's time to reflect, to regroup, and to reprioritize. Use your slump to nurture yourself and become aware of what really matters to you. When you have found clarity, 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 every time.
This may have been taken care of by the foam pit in my case, 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 kick-start 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 guy who intimidates you.
4. Remove distractions and sources of 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 get just one thing 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 activities. If you took Step 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. Read about others who have faced adversity and come out even more successful on 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 without thinking about how it will benefit you—the results will be surprising.