It was the third snooze at 9:45 a.m. on a Wednesday when I realized I was in a slump. And it was the second day in a row that I had stabbed the snooze button on my iPhone, pulled the covers over my head and curled up into a ball in bed instead of starting my day.
This definitely wasn’t an Instagram-able moment. It was one of those moments when all I wanted to do was hide under the covers and ignore the call from my boss.
The only problem with that was that I was my boss. Then, out of nowhere came the shame of not living up to all of the social media posts about grinding and living your best entrepreneurial life. Where were the social media support groups for those times when the self-pep-talk just isn’t working, and all you need is a moment to breathe? More importantly, where and when can you have these moments without the shameful feeling of guilt.
This was me a few weeks ago. And a few months ago. Hell, this was me a few times last year, too, and somewhere along the way I accepted that the ebb and flow of being in business for yourself is normal. And if we lived in a world that would normalize vulnerability, it would connect us all and remind us that we are a lot more alike than we are different. In those times, when you feel alone, even when you have a team by your side, just know that you are never alone.
I want to share three things I practice that work for me when I feel myself sliding into an entrepreneurial slump. Notice that I said practice because it’s best to accept that these moments will continue to show up in our journey. And it’s smart to have a plan rather than go blindly into the ups and downs of being the boss.
Before we get into the routine, we must go into every situation with the right mindset. That mindset is one that permits us to be kind and patient with ourselves. I know it’s hard because there’s a constant pressure from this culture to “stay grinding” and “sleep when you’re dead.” But make no mistake about it, how you treat yourself directly affects your mood. So, I made taking time to myself a significant part of my blueprint to success. When I started this entrepreneurial journey, I began resetting my mind and body as a part of my everyday practice and a part of my business plan. I had to practice this mindset first and foremost.
So, if you need to rest and shut the world out for a minute, then do it. Log off social media, put your phone on do not disturb, and take some time for yourself. Cry, scream or color. Sleep, meditate or practice deep breathing. Do what you feel is right for you. I did all of these things and some more.
Then when you are ready, it’s time to start a new routine. Three vital steps helped me recalibrate my entire mood. I didn’t always feel like doing these things, but that didn’t matter. I did them anyway. I was consistent long enough to see results, because the truth is there were days that I had to get up and move, even when everything in me was begging me to sit still.
Just trust that eventually, your energy will shift — but it won’t happen instantly. You are not a microwave.
Now, let’s get to this routine:
1. Manage what you listen to every day.
As simple as this sounds, we often take for granted that words move us. One of the biggest lies we are taught growing up is that “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” This couldn’t be further from the truth. Words are powerful.
In the late 1990s, a Japanese scientist named Masaru Emoto performed experiments on frozen water and tested the crystallization of the frozen water through the use of positive and negative verbiage. To one group of water, he spoke negative words and phrases, and to the other he spoke positive words and phrases. After a period of time, the negative group produced ugly, cloudy crystal formations, while the positive group produced clear, beautiful crystals.
The point of the study was to demonstrate the power of words and their impact on how living things are transformed. Since we are all made up of 60% water, we can conclude that surrounding ourselves with positive words will shape who we are. Literally.
So, listen to TED Talks on YouTube that empower you. Find inspirational speakers online that you identify with. Whatever you consume, make sure it’s uplifting.
2. Pay attention to what you say and write about yourself.
If the words you hear have power, then you have to believe that what you say has just as much, if not more. So be gentle in how you speak to yourself and others. When I realized I was giving myself a hard time for simple things like not completing a to-do list, I would pause and remind myself to be grateful for the part of the list I did complete.
Because writing is just as powerful as the spoken word, I also started writing my thoughts and goals down. I wrote out the dreams I was too scared to say out loud. So many things began to shift the moment I picked up a pen. Don’t overthink the process and just write.
If you need help with writer's block, then try “Morning Pages.” This exercise was coined by Julia Cameron in her book, The Artist’s Way. Simply put, “Morning Pages” are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, ideally done first thing in the morning. It can be literally anything on your mind with no attention to grammar, punctuation or sentence structure, so don’t overthink it. Just write. And then dream big and write that, too.
3. Get physical.
It’s a well-known fact exercise can increase your level of endorphins, which are natural mood lifters. This can be anything from getting out of the house and walking in nature to stretching in the morning or yoga. At some point, I have tried them all but what works for me is walking and dancing. And if you are wondering if I dance professionally, the answer is no. I just do what feels right. Physical movement not only has the power to lift you but it can also improve your brain function as well as reduce feelings of anxiety and depression. All of this can help you be a better entrepreneur.
The next time you find yourself waking up and wanting to crawl back under the bed, just try to remember to be patient and kind to yourself and put this routine into play. Trust the process and expect results. And remember, take the time you need to care for yourself. Your boss will thank you.