When you’re self-employed, life can feel like an emotional rollercoaster.
You experience the highest of highs, the lowest of lows, the blah-est of blahs, and everything in between.
In a typical month in my life, I’ll go from feeling super-elated (“I’m the next Shonda Rhimes! I’m basically Beyonce’s clone! I can do annnnything!!!”) to wanting to curl up in my bed and zone out watching Gossip Girl reruns until the end of time.
Sometimes, when I’m having an especially dark, brooding moment, I wonder to myself, “Maybe I should scrap everything I’ve ever created and just start over.”
Maybe you feel that way too, sometimes.
Maybe you feel that way right now, at this exact moment.
Most people don’t discuss these types of un-pretty feelings publicly—I wish more people would—but the reality is that every entrepreneur has periods of doubt, apathy, boredom, discouragement, a desire to burn everything and start over, and general blah-ness.
If you’re experiencing a creative, financial, or emotional slump right now, please know that you’re not alone. It’s totally normal, and it’s all part of the rollercoaster journey of self-employment.
You might be wondering, “How can I get out of this slumpy, frumpy phase that I’m currently in? How can I bring back the excitement that I used to feel about my work? How can I feel optimistic again?”
Here’s what works for me:
1) Take a break. Like, a real break. Turn off your phone. Shut down your computer. Power everything down. Step away from your desk. Take a tech-free walk, head to the park, wander through an art gallery, or sink into a comfy chair at your local cafe and read your fave guilty pleasure romance novel.
This sounds so simple, but very few of us take a real break when we need one. Can you remember the last time you spent a whole day, or even one afternoon, without your phone, tablet, or laptop? Most of us don’t do this very often, but it’s so important.
2) Fantasize about making it better. A few months ago, I fell into a deep spiral of woe. I sobbed, moaned, and vented everything to my husband. My vent included everything from “I’m a one hit wonder!” to “I’m creatively stifled forever!” to “Let’s move out of LA and live in a cabin in Montana!” to “No one will care if I disappear.” At the end of my vent-fest, my husband calmly said: “So, what’s your fantasy?” (Sidebar: he’s a saint.)
I thought about it, and then I created my “fantasy action plan” for the upcoming year. My plan includes: taking more work-cations with friends who inspire me, scheduling batch days at fun locations, and starting a totally guilty pleasure personal writing project—something that’s purely for fun, not something I ever want to sell.
After writing down my fantasy action plan, I realized, “None of this stuff is complicated or far-fetched. I can do all of this. I just need to schedule these things into my calendar and do them.” After that, I felt so much lighter and more hopeful about the future. Often, writing down your “fantasy” helps you to realize that it’s totally within your grasp.
3) Recognize if you need more help. Sometimes, we fall into a funk that no amount of Gilmore Girls or Magic Mike Youtube videos will fix. Sometimes, we need more help. I’ve definitely been there, and it’s nothing to feel ashamed about.
I encourage you to give yourself the help that you need. This could mean hiring a part-time assistant so that you’re not carrying the full weight of your business all by yourself. Or it could mean seeing an acupuncturist, hormone specialist, psychologist, life coach, career coach, financial counselor, or your local pastor/rabbi/spiritual advisor. There are so many people who would love to help you, and who won’t judge you or make you feel stupid, no matter what you’re going through.
Those are my suggestions for breaking out of a creative, financial, or emotional slump. Everyone is different, and my suggestions might not work for you—but if nothing else, I hope this email helped you feel a little less alone.
Even if you’re experiencing the slumpiest slump of all time, you can get through this. I’m sending you a big hug and one million virtual Lily cuddles! (She said it was fine. 🙂
In my personal opinion, success isn’t defined by “how much you earn” or “never failing” or “never slowing down.” Success is measured by how you weather the highs and the lows—the good times as well as the stressful times. If you can experience a serious “business slump” and find your way to the other side, to me, that’s true success.
I’m wishing you plenty of highs, minimal lows, and the courage to navigate both.
You’ve got this.