We all have times that we feel stuck. When it’s a writer who gets stuck, the syndrome has a name: “writer’s block.” But certainly that feeling that your brain can’t get started isn’t exclusive to writers. Plenty of executives that I coach run into these blocks frequently. Since it’s a universal feeling from which we all suffer from time to time, I like to think of it as a simple rest period. It’s a time when our minds and bodies are telling us to take a little time out. Maybe we’re overloaded. Maybe something is distracting us from our objective. Maybe we just need a break. In this post I’m going to give you some tools to help you accept a little downtime, analyze why you feel unmotivated or in a slump and help you get on the right track again.

Steve Jobs was brilliant, talented and clever. Even he had periods of creative blocks. Here’s what he had to say: “Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”

Imagine a day that goes something like this: You wake up feeling as though you’re annoyed, angry or extra tired. You’re totally uninspired. You don’t feel like going through your morning routine. Maybe you don’t want to go to the gym, or make your spouse coffee, or certainly take a shower, go through the make-up or shaving routine, start the car and find yourself in traffic and then go to work and a meeting where you have to face your boss and colleagues. We’ve all been there. A little anger and frustration go along with this feeling. You certainly don’t want to be bothered. Staying in bed and vegetating sounds good. But, of course, that’s not feasible because you do have to work after all. What do you do?

The next time you find yourself stuck or uninspired, follow these steps that I use in leadership coaching and before you know it, you’ll be back on track:

1. Don’t Fight It: Accept that this might be a bad day for you, recognize that you have a blockage of some kind and determine that you have to get through it. Relax and realize that there’s nothing you can do immediately but face your day.
2. Plan For the Future: Knowing that today you need a break but can’t take one, schedule a break for yourself. Maybe it’s Monday and you know that Thursday afternoon you can take off. Plan to do it – give yourself a window in the foreseeable future when you can let your mind and body catch up.

3. Analyze Why: Think of why today of all days might be a day when you feel as though you got up on the wrong side of the bed. Did someone do something to you? Are you scared? Are you anticipating something? Are you angry at yourself for something you did or didn’t do well? Are you simply worn out? Let me give you an example of a friend and an easy analysis. Her parents were both ill for a month and she was their constant care taker; she had to take a leave of absence from her regular job. Finally, they got full time paid care takers and my friend, for all intents and purposes, was out of a job. She didn’t know what to do with herself. She was tired and had to get re-motivated to dig into work.

4. Accept Your Obligations: Despite your feelings of lethargy, you have to go to work or a meeting, do your errands or pay your bills. You have to face the day. When you must do something, you are bound to overcoming your bad feelings and face your obligations. Tell yourself you can do it. Have a positive attitude.

5. Find Inspiration: There’s a reason you usually go to work or face your daily routines without hesitation. If you accept Steve Job’s reasoning, it’s because you have found something that you love to do. Remember this; be inspired with what motivates you. Read your favorite quote. Think about previous successes.

6. Get Started: When I feel this way, I know that once I get started, I usually can keep going. This is particularly true when I’ve followed the previous four steps and I know that I have given myself a time for a break in the near future.

7. Set Goals for Yourself: Rather than have expectations that will overwhelm you when you’re already out of sorts, give yourself smaller goals. “Get started” was goal one. Goal two might be, attend the meeting and promise yourself to stay engaged in it and to contribute one meaningful insight. Maybe goal three is to go through your e-mail. The point is to break your day down into smaller reasonable pieces, each one attainable on its own. Before you know it, you will be through the day.

8. Reward Yourself For Your Achievements: I’ve talked in earlier posts about the need to reward yourself in order to stay motivated. As you achieve your goals, give yourself a reward. Need an indulgence of something yummy? Have it. Want to talk to a friend in the middle of the day? Do it. Want to go to the opera but you’re procrastinating? Make the reservation and buy tickets. You deserve it for pushing yourself.

9. Consider Whether You Need More: You got out of bed, made it through your day and are on the way home. Now is the time for additional analysis. You analyzed the background reason for your ennui way back in step three. But, now is the time to look into your unconscious. Maybe this has signaled that you need a change. Maybe you aren’t sufficiently happy in your job. Ask yourself whether you might consider going to a counselor or spiritual advisor. This is also when my executive coaching skills can really help you. I can work with you to get your creative juices flowing again.

10. Be Proud of What You’ve Done: You have succeeded in overcoming your inner demons. You’ve opened your eyes to new possibilities. Give yourself a huge hug!

Don’t let your past define your future. Break free and live BOLDLY in your life and business with my free workbook. ➡️