Somebody asked me a question in response to one of my pieces. The question was what if you wake up tired and unmotivated? How do you get yourself back on track and productive again? It would be a lot easier to pull the bed-clothes over your head and stay in bed. BUT DON’T!
The reason you occasionally feel that your work has no meaning is because it has none. The same goes for your life. The universe is – sorry to say – a void.
Meaning – and the passion that goes with it – is not something that exists outside of you. It comes from within you. You can’t capture it. You can only create it. The moment you stop creating it, it is gone.
The feeling of demotivation and despair you get when you fall into a rut is a let down of energy – energy that you have been creating all along.
OK . . . maybe you don’t believe that. A meaningless universe might contradict your beliefs. But it doesn’t matter. Because what I’m about to tell you will work regardless of whether you understand the cause and effect of it all.
Let me start by giving you two good reasons to feel bad:
- You have a biochemical imbalance. (If you feel bad a whole lot, get some drugs.)
- You are doing something/someone/somewhere wrong.
You Should Be Doing What You Want to Do . . . With Whom You Want to Do It . . . Where You Want to Do It.
If you are doing something you really don’t like, it might be an idea to consider changing careers. The same holds true for the key people in your life. If you have surrounded yourself with energy-sucking losers, give them a wide-birth. Same holds true for your neighborhood. Does it depress you every time you think about it? Do you dream of warm weather and sunny skies?
On the other hand, if you basically like your work/colleagues/location, don’t waste any time fantasising about changing them.
Three Stages to Getting Yourself Out of a Rut
There is no reason to ever be in a slump. It’s true. And here’s better news: Getting yourself out of a slump is relatively easy to do.
1. Recognize that you are very low in energy . . . and energy is what you need. Imagine that inside your brain there is a motivation panel. The panel contains dozens of fuses, each one a conductor of energy. When you hit a slump, many of these fuses have blown. Blown fuses – any sort of negative, self-deprecating or self-limiting thoughts – must be removed before they can be replaced with good ones.
To take out your blown fuses:
- Recognize that your slump will pass. (It passed before, didn’t it?)
- Try not to be mad at yourself. (After all, this is basically a biochemical problem.)
- Remind yourself how lucky you are.
- If you are worried about a particular problem, imagine the worst outcome and then figure out how you will survive it. This will neutralise the anxiety.
2. Do something – anything – that gives you a little charge. The idea is to think/say/do a number of things that you’ve found through experience charge you up a little. Some things that work for me might work for you. Try these:
- Put on some music. Loud. Choose something that will get you going (some scooter, or beethoven, whatever works). This morning for me was Banana Boat Song, The (Day-O) (from beetlejuice)
- Dance. (Make sure no one is looking, unless you are a hip-hop master.)
- If you can’t force yourself to dance, do some kind of wild exercises. Jumping jacks. or something similar. Get the blood pumping.
- Did you know that the physical act of smiling releases endorphins? You won’t believe it until you try it. Go ahead.
If you do enough of this stuff . . . and you’ve really rid yourself of your blown fuses . . . you are ready for the third step (which is really the key to the entire process).
3. Complete a worthwhile task – something useful that has value to you.
The trick is to have a ready inventory of meaningful tasks that need doing. If you are a busy person, this won’t be a problem. The tasks you have set aside in inventory should be relatively small in scope – you should be able to complete them in a few hours at most.
I can’t even begin to guess what your task list would look like. It might include something more mundane (like replacing that light bulb that has been out for six months, or dusting etc..)
Remember that the job must be important – to you – and you must do it well. If it is and you do, you will be out of your slump by the time you are finished with it.
It works every time. Getting out of a slump is all about forgetting the problems that are draining your energy and getting involved in good, energising work. The secret is to climb out of the rut in stages. Otherwise, you won’t succeed.
One more thing: When you feel a slump coming on, don’t ignore it. Act immediately.
You Wouldn’t Allow Yourself to Get a Migraine. Why Let Yourself Fall into Despair?
Slumps are like bad headaches. They are terrible, but they usually come on slowly. If you attack them in the beginning, when they are just getting started, you can defeat them. If you wait too long, you are going to suffer.
So the moment you feel moody or depressed or simply listless and unmotivated, recognize those feelings as symptoms of an upcoming illness – and start this three-part cure.