What to do on a slump day…

What to do on a slump day

 

We all have them- those days we’d rather not. The day the internal weather turns on us and we’d rather hide.

I had one last week. It had started with big intentions-  to get up early, to do yoga, to dive into work and turn up my energy and productivity. It didn’t happen. I fell back asleep. I did a very brief bit of yoga. I felt resistance to being at my laptop. I ate cake.

Working for myself I try to put best habits in place, be consistent and show up to my work with gratitude for the opportunity and the freedom. But that day, quite simply, I didn’t want to. I wanted to hide. I wanted companionship and I started to question it ALL.

What does it matter in the bigger scheme of things? And I doing the real and important work? Does what I do make any difference at all? Who am I kidding?

The latter question in particular is an open door to my inner critic. For me it’s the ‘your so lazy you’ll never get there’ voice. And when that voice starts it gives rise to lots of others. There is the ‘imposter voice’- this is the ‘who do you think you are’ voice. Then there is the voice which is constantly worrying about building my business and finance- this is the voice which says ‘here you go again, it will never work’.  Then there is the more personal one that thinks I’ll be single and alone for the rest of my life- the ‘you’re not good enough voice’. Pretty soon there is a party in my head and the chatter so deafening it is no wonder I want to hide.

It turns out though that most of us have parties in our head. I know of no person who doesn’t experience it from time to time; and of course, I know for some people, the conversation is so loud it challenges longer term function.

What I say now is directed towards the days when you do feel in a slump, and need to find ways to quite the critic. That voice is so sabotaging, and learning to manage it and speak calmly to it is one of the most valuable learning adventures we can go on.

Here are a some of the few ways I find useful. It’s not a definitive list and quite personal to me, so I’d love to hear yours too… 

 Go for a walk

Nature has so many answers for us. The rhythm of the day, the pattern of the seasons, the crest of a wave reminds us that everything passes. The voice will pass too. When I put my ear up against a gush of wind or the whirl of the sea, the inner voice softens and I hear a deeper wisdom, ‘this too shall pass’.

Open the ‘cheerleading folder’ 

I have a folder in in email account called ‘cheerleaders’. These are emails I have kept on file from friends, readers and clients who say the good things. They are reminders of the small or big ways my work has reached and influenced them. They are like electronic bouncing castles for the spirit. Everyone should have a cheerleading folder!

Name the inner critic

Give that voice a name, an actual name, like Betty or Bob, or Hilda. When the voice arrives, welcome it and say, ’Here’s Hilda again, I wonder what’s up with her today’, then thank her and ask her to leave now because you are busy and have work to do. Naming the voice does’t deny it but does help to put it in its place. It helps to separate yourself from it too and opens some space from a more positive reaction and response.

Do a job on your list that you enjoy 

So maybe the day that your inner critic is speaking loudly is a day you have all the nasty jobs on your list. Scrap that. Instead, do a job that brings you joy, or if it’s not a job, ring a person that brings you joy. Or if not a person, dance in the kitchen, sing in the bath, jump up and down, shake something out. Some action is important. Physical activity really helps. Chats with good friends can work wonders too. Share it, shake it!

Write it out

Journal. Journal. Journal. Scribble. Getting the voice on paper is another way of distancing it. If it is on paper it’s not in your head- or at least not in your head as much.

Shake up your environment, shake up your routine

Walk to work the same route every morning? Change your direction.

Sit at the same place in your house if you are working from home? Move. Work in the garden, or in the bathtub, or on the floor. Changing your external perspective can help to shift your internal perspective. I love to go to a coffee shop and work there too, depending on my mood.

Get off your screens

Turn off your phone, laptop, tv and social media. There are so many messages swarming at us that on days when we are not in great headspace they are amplified and can be so utterly tormenting. Reducing tech stimulation helps to quiet the mind. When it’s not possible to entirely switch off, can you become more aware of your reading and viewing patterns, and limit the time you are using?

Get dressed up

Even if you are working from home, get dressed as if you are going to a really important meeting, or date! Put on the good clothes, put on the red lipstick (or whatever your equivalent is!) , brush your hair. Showing up to yourself, especially on the days when you couldn’t be bothered, helps you to see yourself differently. The inner critic hates that…

Give in (for a day… )

Somedays it just doesn’t budge or you don’t have the energy. Let the day slide. Stay in bed. Go to the cinema. Give yourself permission to have a slow day… the inner critic loves to chime in when you are tired but feeling obliged to be full of energy. Giving ourselves permission is one of the biggest game changers, and one of the hardest to implement… so before you go to bed that night, set some intentions for the following day. Plan your schedule. Set your outfit out and pre-empt some of the critic thoughts. Tomorrow is always another day.

And when all else fails, find a puppy! 

It’s hard to be down when there is a little playful animal around! For me, it’s Milly. On days when I just don’t feel up for anything, she still demands love, attention, cuddles and walks. In giving them I receive then all too… and somehow the slump is de-slumped!

Over to you.. any thoughts? Ideas? Suggestions? 

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Thrive School potential 2Thrive School is soon coming to Cork and Dublin. It’s a 5 month programme to build momentum, learn strategies to design your life and business and take your elegant next steps with grit and grace… Find out more over here. 

 

 

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Working with Accountability

working with accountabilty

 

It may come across as a little clinical, but being accountable is one of the most liberating experiences I’ve had while running my own business. I like to think of accountability like a river:  the river would be but a deluge were it not for it’s banks and it’s bed. For the river to flow fluidly and effectively, it must have some boundaries.

For me accountability is about setting myself a goal or challenges and then having some mechanisms to help me stay on track– or banks to my freedom. These boundaries can be self regulated or externally regulated- either way though they are there to support my output and momentum.

Working alone from home most of the time it can be very challenging, distracting and at times isolating. To overcome this I have tried to build in accountablity into my weekly routine. When I have let this slip I notice a huge reduction not just in my creativity and productivity, but also in morale and mood.

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So, here a few ways to work with accountability- both self regulated and externally, with some tips for working with an accountability partner…

Set Deadlines

Deadlines are key. Create as many small deadlines as you can by breaking down projects into smaller chunks. As much as possible communicate those deadlines to others. And when you reach a deadline, celebrate or mark it in some way. Marking it helps you to have a feeling of momentum or achievement. Depending on the milestone, the celebration can be a simple as going for a walk or stopping for a cup of tea.

Create regular communications

A weekly blog, a monthly newsletter, a regular podcast or a consistent video release date- having an editorial calendar can help to keep you externally accountable to an readership or support base. Having to produce regular content builds in rhythm and structure to your week and keeps you connected with your clients and network.

Visualise Commitments

Make your goals visible and check in with them on at least a weekly basis. I have mine written up on a A3 sheet of paper which I keep close to my current workspace, and share them with my accountability buddies…

Accountability Buddy

By far one of the most powerful things I have done is work with accountability buddy. This is someone- usually a friend- who agrees to check in with me on a regular basis (generally once a week) and I with them. We share our goals, check in with our momentum and help to keep each other on track. They act as a supportive, listening ear but also someone to challenge, nudge and remind me of what I am are capable of. Importantly they help me see my blindspots and some of the things that I am are overlooking. Ideally we have a good laugh too…

It is important to choose the right person tough, as not all friends will ‘get it’. For myself, a fellow creative or social entrepreneur works best for me; someone who is on a similar path and working on their own big vision.

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Here are a few tips for choosing a working with an accountability buddy..

Check in at regularly time slots

Approach it professionally. Especially if you are working with a close friend, treat your accountability arrangement like you would a regular business meeting. Arrive early. Prepare. Stick to the time allocated- this means it is more likely to continue. If you are working with a friend, for instance, but each time to meet it runs on for hours and hours, you can end up regretting the arrangement as you may feel it is distracting from family time or other work time.

You can choose to meet on Skype, in person, or a mixture of both. You may find that at the beginning of your arrangement checking in weekly works best, but then it might move to every two weeks. Keep having conversations about what is working and what is not, reviewing and adapting as you go.

Have a pilot period

Again, especially if you are working with a friend, try it out for a short time first- maybe a three month timeframe. After the agreed timeframe review and see how you are both getting on. Always prioritise friendship. If you arrangement is getting in the way of that, maybe you are not right for each other as accountably buddies but perfect for each other as friends!

Work with your big vision

Let your buddy know your big dream or vision. Let then know what you really really want. Let them in on the secret desire… because they can help to remind you want it is your are working for, especially on days when you feel lost or lacking traction. Your buddy can raise the flag of your future and remind you it is there for the taking.

Agree parameters upfront

Agree with your accountability partner what you are seeking support on. Maybe you want advice on your business model- but maybe you don’t. Maybe you want their input on the design of your website, but maybe you don’t. Unsolicited feedback is some of the most unproductive kinds of feedback and can really deaden a relationship. Working with an accountability buddy doesn’t have to be license to critique everything. So be clear on the kind of support you are seeking on how you want that support to be given.

Avoid complaining (too much!)

We all have bad days. One of the advantages of working with an accountability partner is to have someone to travels the ups and downs with, but if it becomes a regular moan-fest, then it is a joy and momentum killer. Focus on solutions. One of the most powerful questions I know is; ‘what is your elegant next step’. It dilutes drama and shifts things into proactive and productive mode…

Ask proactive questions

Your accountability partner can help you see things you are not seeing. Here are a few questions which may come in handy:

  • what am I not seeing?
  • where are the gaps?
  • what are my blindspots?
  • are there additional opportunities you see?
  • who/ what else should I be consulting?
  • how else can my thinking be challenged on this?

So, how can you create some accountability for yourself? Think about who you may choose and what would be good parameters for your buddy arrangement…

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Maybe I can help too…

If you are looking for an accountability buddy, then perhaps we are a good fit? I have a new coaching package which is designed to get you clear on your commitments and keep you on track. Check out ‘Accountability Buddy’ here, and if you are interested let me know, we can arrange a preliminary chat and take it from there…

If you are in the Dublin or Cork regions of Ireland you may also be interested in Thrive School– a 6 month training programme for creative and social entrepreneurs, freelancers, doers and trailblazers! As part off the programme we build in an accountability structure, working with two other peers over the course of the programme. Thrive School is launching again in Dublin and Cork in October. Find out more over here…

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