Slumps can be devastating. They can take an otherwise productive, happy person and reduce him to a lethargic, depressed, indifferent person. If you’re in a slump right now, you know what I mean.
You might have goals and dreams, but right now, they seem like a distant fantasy–unimportant and detached from reality.
So what do you do? If you’re like most people, you take a break from all of your projects and aspirations. And you spend some time feeling depressed and indifferent to progress.
After a few weeks or months have passed, you exit your slump, but you do so very aware of how much time you’ve lost and how many opportunities you’ve forgone.
In the remainder of this guide, I’m going to help you to avoid that scenario. Instead of losing weeks or months to this slump or the next slump, you’re going to learn 21 ways to re-motivate yourself, refocus your life and goals, become happy and productive; and leave this slump in the distant past.
1. Take Action. Before you landed in this slump, you had goals, dreams, and lists of things you needed to do to accomplish them. At some point, you lost confidence in these ideas and stopped working on your projects and carrying out your dreams.
Well, it’s time to pursue those dreams once again. And you can do so by taking action. Ignore your feelings of lethargy and indifference and focus on making tangible progress. As you start checking things off of your “to do” list, you’ll feel better about yourself and the possibility of accomplishing your goals.
2. Ratchet Up Your Efforts. Working hard does not guarantee that you will accomplish your goals. But not working hard will undoubtedly ensure that you do not.
Be mindful of this when you’re deciding what to do for the day. Don’t simply drift along, waiting for your projects to make sense of themselves. Take control, make plans, and move towards them each day.
3. Pay Attention to People Who Have Succeeded. Just because someone else succeeded doesn’t mean you will. But it can provide a motivational example of path to your goal that has worked for someone else.
So, cast aside your doubts, stop telling yourself that you can’t do what others did–and instead take their examples for what they are: a source of inspiration and hope. And, most importantly, a means to get out of your slump.
4. Learn by Doing. If you’re faced with a complicated decision with no clear answer, one of the best ways you can move forward is to simply do, rather than thinking.
What do I mean by this? Instead of perseverating on the decision, pick one of the options in front of you; and move forward with your best effort to make it work.
If you fail ultimately, at least you can eliminate that path as a dead-end and then move forward with the other path.
5. Avoid Over-thinking. Thinking hard and carefully about many things is critical to success, but if taken to an extreme, it can become pathological. It can paralyze talented, driven individuals; and prevent them from attaining the success they would otherwise have.
So, next time you find yourself paralyzed by a decision, stop over-analyzing the situation–and just pick one path or the other.
6. Re-organize Your Work Area. No matter what you do, it’s always a good idea to have everything you need organized and within close reach. Re-organize your work area, so that it is a productive environment, rather than a sprawling, disorganized heap of documents.
7. Start Afresh. One frequent source of slumps is boredom. If you’re unhappy with your current routine, it may affect your ability to work and to accomplish your goals. Consider switching your daily routine to something new that excites you and motivates you to accomplish new things.
8. Reward Yourself. Surprisingly, slumps are very common among those who work hard. Why? Because, eventually they hit a wall, can’t figure out how to get around it, and keep working until they’re thoroughly burnt out and frazzled.
So, don’t do this. Set specific goals, accomplish them, and then reward yourself by taking the rest of the night off to relax. When you come back to your work, you’ll be happy and refreshed.
9. Visit a New Place. Instead of mindlessly chugging along with your daily route, break free and visit a new place. Take a drive to the beach or to a lake. Take a walk through the woods. Drive somewhere new and relaxing. Experience the small pleasures in life to demonstrate to yourself that there are reasons to move forward, to make progress, and to indulge in life.
10. Refocus Yourself. Slumps tend to make life feel unclear, unfocused, and pointless. Take some time to refocus yourself, re-think your aspirations, and decide what goals to keep and what goals to discard.
11. Schedule Things, Rather than Letting Things Happen to You. Don’t allow your schedule to morph into an unpredictable, unmanageable blob. Take the time to record things you need to do, schedule them into your life, and tend to them carefully. This is not only a good way to prevent disasters, but also to commit yourself to getting work done.
12. Physical Activity. The cause of slumps is not always or entirely psychological. In many cases, complacency and a lack of physical exercise can leave us in a mental fog. One cure for this problem is to get some vigorous exercise. Not only will it get your blood pumping and make your thoughts clearer, but it will also release endorphins, making you feel happy and more satisfied with your life and goals.
13. Eliminate Negative Thoughts. Skepticism and self-doubt are healthy when applied in moderation, but when they prevent you from achieving your goals, it may be time to reign them in. If you constantly find yourself doubting that you an accomplish something, instead re-direct your thoughts towards considering how you can accomplish it.
14. Challenge Yourself to Accomplish Something New. If you find yourself repeating the same tasks on a daily basis, you may become bored and complacent. Find ways to challenge yourself–for instance, by seeing whether you can do some task in half the amount of time–so that you engage your work and goals, rather than becoming indifferent to them.
15. Create Artificial Scarcity. Most people work best when they have no other choice. When that project is due in two days, you buckle down, stay focused, and get it done. But one week before that, you probably sat in front of the computer, “working” on it, but truly got very little accomplished.
Next time, start on the project later, rather than sooner. Save that extra time when you wouldn’t really be working to do something fun and refreshing.
16. Change Your Diet. Another frequent cause of “slumps” is diet. If you find your busy schedule forcing you into an unhealthy diet that causes you to put on weight and feel sluggish, put an end to it immediately. Not only will this help you physically, but it will help you to avoid the mental and emotional burden that comes with weight gain and unhealthy eating.
17. Spend a Day to Improve Your Productivity. Hard work isn’t the only ingredient in success. Another critical component is productivity. You can think about productivity as the amount you accomplish in each hour. So, spend an afternoon or even a full day figuring out how you can be more productive. This might simply mean re-arranging your filing cabinet or learning how to use certain programs on your computer better.
18. Simplify Your Goals. It’s often easy to convince ourselves that our goals have to be complicated and hard to achieve. But it many cases, there are achievable, simple goals that are still very desirable. So, take some time to decide whether you can make your goals clearer, simpler, and easier to attain.
19. Take the Path of Least Resistance. Instead of taking the path you think you “should take” or “ought to take,” instead focus on what paths cause the fewest problems and present the fewest challenges. If you can find and exploit these paths, you’ll save yourself time and make it easier to finish what you set out to do.
20. Sleep More. Many hard-working individuals whip themselves up into a frenzy; and convince themselves that they should never stop working. When taken to an extreme, this can be very detrimental to their goals. Keep this in mind when deciding whether to go to sleep or to keep working late into the night. If you don’t sleep, you might get more done tonight, but you’ll definitely be tired and get less done tomorrow. So go to sleep and come back refreshed tomorrow.
21. Make an Effort to Learn from Others. Rather than always focusing on your own stories and struggles, make a concerted effort to truly understand other people and their daily trials. Learn from them, absorb their stories, and use them to motivate yourself.
No matter how depressed and indifferent you feel right now, you have the capabilities to break out of your slump. You have 21 different ways in which you can do it. It’s just a matter of taking a handful of them, living by them on a daily basis, and pushing forward.
So, don’t let your slump get the best of you. Reclaim your career, your family life, your goals, your aspirations, and your hunger for new and challenging experiences. Leave this slump in your past; and return to your productive, happy life.