How to Get out of a Career Slump (from Someone Who's Been There)
Can I let you in on a secret? For the past month, I've been in a career slump. Demotivated. Lost. Creatively stifled. All of the above.
The cause was obvious: a combination of working too hard, socialising too much and giving more than I was receiving. The cure, however? Not so obvious.
Having spent the past month trying all kinds of weird and wonderful techniques, I'm pleased to report that I'm feeling better. Here's what I learned along the way...
1. Give yourself permission to press pause
Seriously. Sleep in. Cancel your alarm clock! Cancel everything for a while! Watch that Netflix series with no shame. Hell, watch two. Allow yourself a (limited!) amount of time to indulge yourself -- a weekend or two will suffice. Embrace the beauty of boredom. You won’t feel better without it.
2. Figure out the scale of the slump
AKA is this a quarter life crisis or simply a bad week at work? Is this a cause for concern or a condition of being human? A bad day doesn't equal a bad life (we all have them. Even Oprah.) but bad weeks that turn into months aren't to be ignored and you can do better, my friend. Don't deny yourself that.
3. Remember your intentions and realign accordingly
Real talk: why did you start your current career? Is that reason still relevant to your life today? Your “why” and initial motivation is seriously telling. Remember it and realign as required. If it's meant to be, remembering your original vision will help reignite your motivation. And if it doesn't? It could be time to go back to the drawing board -- and that's ok. Forward is forward. You've got this.
4. Do an energy inventory
If you're in a slump, you've probably been giving a lot of yourself -- to work, to friends, to life. Combat this by putting yourself in situations where you’re receiving more than you put out there. For example, I recently spent a weekend playing the role of the observer rather than the entertainer. Instead of parties and dinner dates, I went to galleries and to the cinema and listened far more than I spoke. It helped to just be for a while. Play the observer and see how your mood changes.
5. Put your phone away. Like, right now.
Your phone is killing your creativity! There! I said it! Your endless scrolling on Instagram is sucking the life out of you. Your Twitter browsing isn’t inspiring you, it’s draining you even further. Put your phone on airplane mode and practise actual mindfulness for a little while: look up, look around and focus on nothing but your surroundings IRL. Give your brain a break. You’ll be glad you did.
6. Meet up with someone new
Call it physics, the law of attraction or simple human nature… spending time with someone new -- whose vibes you not only relate to, but feel inspired by -- is powerful AF. Invite people you've long-admired out for a coffee. Be bold. You've got nothing to lose and everything to gain.
7. Change your surroundings
Seriously. Switch it up. Money needn’t be an excuse, either. You don’t need to find yourself on a beach in Bali. A change of scenery can be as simple as a different commute to work or a 20- minute walk when you’d usually get the train. The point is simple: to get out of your own head, it helps to get out of your routine.
8. Seek out new role models
We all need role models, but when you're in a slump it's super important to search for inspiration in new places. This can be as simple as watching slam poetry on YouTube instead of your usual Super Soul Sundays, or listening to a whole different genre of music. Whatever it is, look for the stories of people who have overcome adversity and are all the better for it. There's nothing more empowering than people speaking from hard-earned experience.
9. Know it’s normal.
Instead of cursing yourself for being lazy or demotivated or unfocused, view your career slump as an opportunity to reevaluate what you really want. The answers you’re looking for -- about your calling and what to do next -- are already there. All you have to do is listen.
You may think you're lost, but you're really just discovering who you really are.