Have you ever noticed how much more productive you are when you are immersed in activities that sing to you? Me too. But I also realize that waking up and feeling you cannot face another day at your desk happens to all of us.
Catch me on a high note and I am captivated, inspired and efficient – it’s as if I am capable of changing the world. But get me in a week when work has slowed, or become too tedious, and my behaviour is completely different. Somehow my super-productive self has just faded away.
When I am no longer feeling particularly passionate about anything, I recognize that I have reached a state of ‘underwhelm’ – commonly called a slump. Perhaps you have bumped into this feeling once or twice?
Fortunately, there are plenty of things to remedy this situation – preferably before we find ourselves replaced by a more passionate individual or out of money should you be more reliant on self-employment.
OK, so where to start?
- Get a handle on the stories you are telling yourself about your state of mind. Our behaviours are a direct reflection of the story we are making up. This is obviously not optimal for recovery. So if you find yourself living out an unproductive story in your head, then it’s time to ponder the value of that story. Ask yourself what needs to change in order for the story to produce a more positive outcome.
Then it’s time to get a little more strategic with your behaviours:
- Consider playing a game with your demotivation and challenge yourself to say ‘Yes’ to everything. Shonda Rhimes did a fabulous TED Talk on how she found her “hum” again by saying ‘Yes’ and it might be worth watching (so long as it doesn’t contribute to your already full page of excuses for inactivity). Rhimes is a self-admitted “work-aholic” writer who brings us Grey’s Anatomy and many other TV shows.
- Adjust your priorities. If you believe that marketing, family or fitness are high-priority activities but your calendar is filled with meetings instead, it’s time to own that disparity and fix it. Lock down time slots in your calendar that put these activities back in the forefront and then build meetings around them – fiercely protect these as if your very life depends on it (it just might if you find yourself unable to force yourself out of bed each day).
- Get up earlier. The reality is that very few of us actually want to do this but you need to do it even if it’s hard at first. Part of getting your enthusiasm back will mean creating new patterns of behaviour and not sliding back to the old underperforming ones. It takes time. But if you start waking up early and getting active in the morning, it will help improve your thinking, productivity and health, and be a great step towards regaining motivation. Besides, I have never met anyone at the top of a mountain who fell there.
- Commit to showing up – no matter what! How many times have each of us headed out to do something, only to debate a thousand times in our minds whether it was worth the time? If you really want to regain momentum, then you have to start showing up again! Do not put off anything or let your current mood dictate your actions. You might be pleasantly surprised at what happens when you re-invest your time and effort again.
If you stay the course, adjusting your priorities and patterns, the slumps will be far less frequent – and you’ll have well established strategies in place to help you get back on top of your game quickly.
Soon enough, you will once again be immersed in a life that sings to you.
Troy Media columnist Faith Wood is a novelist and professional speaker who focuses on helping groups and individuals navigate conflict, shift perceptions and improve communications.