When High Achievers Hit A Slump

Feeling stuck, hit a plateau, in a slump? It happens - even in spring, even to achievers. Fortunately, you can do something about it!

About a year ago, while meeting with my coach, I inexplicably burst into tears.

On paper, everything looked great: healthy family, respected business, making a difference for people and causes I care deeply about.

Yet I had hit a wall.

It was taking me longer than usual to complete tasks. I was procrastinating, even on easy or really cool projects. I felt unmotivated, overwhelmed, and, quite frankly, in a slump, and my usual methods and strategies for lifting out of it just weren’t working.

So it was a good thing I had brought tissues to that particular coaching session.

At least inspirational Kleenex (r) packages now exist for times like these!

As a (recovering) perfectionist, (frequent) Type A, (meaningful- but still high-) achiever, it’s a bit scary for me to share stories like this. Maybe you, as an achiever yourself, ask yourself similar questions:

Aren’t I supposed to have it all figured out by now?

Aren’t I viewed as having my act together?

Don’t others rely on me to always be strong, unflappable, inspired, and darn near perfect?

Well, no, actually.

Fact is, nearly all of us hit a slump from time to time. You likely have before, and (sorry) you likely will again. And that’s ok – as long as you acknowledge it, feel the feelings, seek support, and take action.

Recently I shared one such action on Instagram and Facebook. Here are more to add to your toolkit:

1. Focus On What You Can Influence.

Let’s face it: There are a lot of things in this world that we cannot control. Yet when we invest time and energy focusing on those things, we are often left feeling powerless and unmotivated.

Focus instead on what you can influence.

Maybe you can’t control the weather on the day of your outdoor grand opening, but you can have a backup location or rain date prepared. Maybe you can’t control the fact that your company is being acquired, but you can decide how you will carry yourself through the changes.

Like Victor Frankl demonstrated so powerfully, we are always in control of at least one thing: our attitudes. “Everything can be taken [from us] but one thing,” wrote Frankl. “The last of the human freedoms: to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Do you ever make things more difficult than necessary?

2. Go For Depth.

We can attribute much of our overwhelm to simply having too much on our plates – a quantity-over-quality conundrum. Consider where you can downsize, whether that means decluttering space or mind, reducing activities, or setting healthy boundaries (my Declutter Triangle may help).

Then, when you’ve decided what’s truly worthy of your energy and attention, you can focus on mastery.

Going deep – whether in a project, relationship, course of study, or profession – can boost motivation and put you in a state of flow, which works wonders for lifting out of a slump. “A deep life is a good life,” wrote Cal Newport in one of my favorite nonfiction books, “any way you look at it.”

3. Help Someone Else.

A client and I were recently discussing the power of handwritten notes, and how the sender benefits just as much as the recipient. This applies in so many life areas: Want more confidence? Help an employee build their confidence. Wish you were shown more appreciation? Start showing more appreciation to others.
Uplift yourself by uplifting others: Give a shout-out for a project done well. ‘Like’ and comment on an inspiring blog or social media post. Thank a volunteer for her dedication. You will fill your own well in the process.
4. Seek Help Yourself.
Although I had felt the pangs of my slump for a while, it wasn’t until I poured my heart out in that coaching meeting that things actually began to change. That has occurred with other trusted sources, too, such as my mastermind partners, close friends, and other professionals.
I have had many, many coaching clients experience tears in our sessions as well – men and women, old and young, charismatic and quiet. Being in a space with someone dedicated solely to you and your growth is a powerful thing.
Consider what support may best serve you and reach out. Maybe it’s a coach, therapist, trusted friend, or someone else. You don’t have to figure everything out by yourself.
5. Reconnect With Your Purpose.
I often use a lighthouse as a metaphor for purpose: Always there to guide us, always shining strong and true. Sometimes we drift away from it, sometimes we get in a fog and it becomes blurry, sometimes we are looking in the opposite direction – but it’s always there.
Consciously, intentionally, reconnect with your why – your purpose. If you need help clarifying yours, consider securing one of my current coaching openings – you could have your purpose statement written within three sessions!
Lighthouse Purpose Always Guide Split Rock
Maybe admitting moments of overwhelm and low motivation bursts my professional bubble, but I am willing to take that chance in hopes that many of you will recognize yourselves in parts of my stories, realize you are not alone, and begin having brave conversations and reaching out for support. In our ASPIRE Success Club discussions each month, one of the most common phrases we hear from members is, “I’m so glad I’m not the only one who does this / feels this way / experiences this!” 
If you sometimes hit a slump, you are in good company. And hopefully one or more of these ideas will help the next time you find yourself less motivated or less inspired than usual!
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