Thursday, February 10, 2011

Rising above a slump

In "Getting Started as a Freelance Writer" (a great little book) by Bob Bly he gives advice on how to get out of a business slump.

This is not advice just for writers, but for anyone. He says it's easy to remember and only seven words long. But it's an important seven words. Seven words that seem like nonsense, but once you delve into them, they can be life changing and life affirming. Check it out:

1. Do Something.

Do I mean do anything, no matter how random? Well, no. But almost. Here's what I mean:

Most people in a slump spend most of their time worrying, ruminating, and planning. They suffer from analysis paralysis. They become so obsessed with making their next step perfect, they never take it.

You can reverse a slump only through action, so you've got to act--now! Not sure if an idea makes sense? Do it anyway. Not sure whether to take Path X or Path Y? Pick one and go forward. The very fact that you are taking action--instead of getting stuck in inaction--will automatically start you on the road to recovery.

2. Do More.

There are two common reasons why people fail. One is that they don't do the work required to get the results they want. Putting into action just one or two ideas may help, but it's probably not enough to totally solve your problem. Getting out of a slump requires that you take what motivational speaker Anthony Robbins calls "massive action." How do you implement this strategy? Decide how much activity you think you really need to get fully out of your slump. Then do at least twice that amount.

3. Keep Doing it.

The second reason people fail is that they give up too early.

Not everything you try will work. If you try one thing, then a second, then a third, and they all fail, do you give up? No. You try something else. Eventually one thing works okay. Another works better. And before you know it, you're well on the road to turning your situation around. But don't just forge ahead blindly. Evaluate the results of each effort. A corollary to Step 3 is: Do more of what's working, less of what's not working.

"There you have it: three words. Simple? Yes. Do they work? Try it and see for yourself."

That's it, Robert's 3 steps to getting back to being productive. I'd add one thing, however.

Whenever I get to a point that I cannot find what direction to turn, it's usually because I'm thinking "within the box". Or I'm thinking in "small degrees".

Think of it as looking in front of you. What do you see? Maybe a range of 180 degrees, from your left, to the front, to your right. I would then turn around and look the other direction. Why? Because, that is not just the direction you have already traversed. It is also the direction you haven't been, and haven't been considering. Therefore, its virgin territory. Much of it has nothing to do with what you are doing.

However, more times than I can count, I have gotten stuck on a problem and found that I had gotten turned around, and so then turning back around, I was placing myself forward again and back on the right track. Not unlike a SCUBA diver thinking they are swimming up, but once they monitor their bubbles, find they are swimming sideways, metaphorically speaking.

Other times, I find that looking the complete opposite direction from where (I think) I'm heading, gives me a fresh new perspective; one that I might not have explored. Not only does it then get me back on the "right" track, but frequently, it puts me on a track I wouldn't have been going to no matter what and it revitalizes my efforts (and energy). I then get responses from people like, "That's amazing, how'd you think of that!"

So, best of luck!

And just remember, those who quit, never get there. Some of those who continue never get there either. But there are far far more of those who do in the end make it, not only to their goals, but quite far beyond, into areas they had never before conceived they could attain, by the mere perseverance of their attitude.

Go for it, don't stop!

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