February in New England is a drag-you-down kind of month. It’s when winter pushes your tolerance to the brink. But I suspect it’s not just New Hampshire’s winter that does it . . .
February’s a hard month in general.
This is typically the time when you’re starting to have substantial doubts about everything you promised you do with this new year a few weeks ago.
Remember those resolutions?
It’s when bills pile up . . . deadlines start to loom . . . your belly flab hasn’t shrunk noticeably . . . and colds and flus catch you unawares.
The sparkle of the holidays has disappeared and you feel a little deflated.
And -ah yes – Valentine’s Day brings a bittersweet reminder of both the loves in your life . . . And the challenges to loving and being lovable.
And this February is especially tough with everything going on in the world.
It’s an easy time to get lost in a funk.
As solopreneurs and small biz owners a funk hits us particulary hard since so much of our business depends on us.
Well, if you’re feeling like you’re in a rut and struggling to get recharged, put this great 6-step process to work and get out of it
See, this past summer I went through a pretty good funk.
I couldn’t focus on my work. I didn’t have the motivation to get things done.
All the discipline and structure I’d set up to keep my business and larger life clipping along at a good pace went flying out the window.
But luckily, I realized this wasn’t a random act of chemistry.
I recognized that there were reasons I felt this way . . . and there were ways to address these reasons.
Essentially, a mix of things were dragging me down – hard:
- Some personal baggage I hadn’t dealt with was contributing to tensions with my spouse
- I was diving into my work without giving adequate time and attention to this precious family time .
- And to top it off, my aging mother hit a somewhat serious situation that demanded my time and emotional energy.
Despite all of the “distractions” piling up, I tried to maintain full-time work hours.
Stupid me. This only made things worse.
Eventually I had to concede that this wasn’t working. Eventually I had to recognize this messy stuff – stuff that didn’t fit into my neat business plan and calendar.
And I needed to take care of it.
So here’s what I did step-by-step so that within a couple months I was back in gear with my business.
And better yet, I had regained solid ground with my children and spouse. I was healthier and trimmer. And I had been able to help my mother make some big changes that made things far better for her – taking a big burden off of me.
How To Fight The Funk
Fight The Funk Step #1Take a step back from business as usual.
Get away from distractions and let your mind ramble a bit.
And I really mean get away from distractions.
You still need to discipline yourself to keep things going at a reduced pace. You still have to slowly increase the pressure on the gas pedal as the weeks go on – even when your heart isn’t really into it.
But first ease off the gas. Take some focused time out and listened to the internal mumblings that are fast becoming insistent yells.
We rarely give ourselves “empty space” and time to let our thoughts surface. It’s so easy to distract ourselves with all our electronic information.
You’ll be amazed at how earthshaking clearing a little headspace can be. Even if you just take half an hour to sit with your eyes closed and ponder what’s eating you.
Fight The Funk Step #2: Hone in on the problem and reflect
When you find yourself dawdling on Facebook when you know you should be getting a project done . . . and this happens day after day after day . . . Listen up!
Something’s trying to get your attention.
And if you ignore it, it’s just going to get worse. Louder. And take up more of your energy and focus.
So take the time you’ve cleared out from life’s busy-ness and ask yourself: What’s getting to me? What issues have come up that I shoved to the back of my mind and replaced with work?
Take notes. Jot things down. Don’t rely on memory. This is when you might get some crucial insights that will help you on the next steps.
Pause and think some more. Really give yourself some time to understand what’s happening inside.
Also, take some time to reflect on the good things in your life. Often enough when you look at the good things, the tough things become less daunting. This is not about being Pollyanna-ish, but perspective is a wonderful thing for keeping your energy up and your eyes on the prize.
Taking the time to appreciate what’s good in your life can help you take on the bad.
And then here’s the crucial thing . . .
Don’t spend too long dwelling on the problem once you spot it. Too much reflection can be paralyzing and rob you of energy.
Often what we need as much as anything is to simply acknowledge that something’s wrong, identify it and then . . .
Fight The Funk Step #3: Brainstorm Your Solution
Figure out how you can solve this issue and create a step-by-step action plan. What can you do – what action can you take to solve it? Can you talk to someone? Do you need to enlist some help? Do you need to confront someone? Do you need to make some changes
The point here is to move towards action and change. Not to get stuck in feeling powerless, frustrated, bad, etc. And even if you feel the problem can’t be solved by you, there usually is some action you can take to live more effectively and comfortably with the problem.
Figure out what you can do to regain some control. How can you gain the peace of mind that you did your part to resolve things?
Brainstorm. Be creative. Don’t nix any potential solutions outright. Allow yourself to look at different options.
But pretty swiftly move towards making a solid action plan.
Fight The Funk Step #4: Create An Action Plan
Starting with your desired outcome, go backwards and map out step by step how to get there.
Make the steps doable. Think about what you need to put in place to get from one place to the other.
Most important for any plan, make sure it starts with something you can do just about immediately. So you can move into the action phase of getting out of your funk.
Fight The Funk Step #5: Take Action
Put your steps towards solving this problem in the calendar. Or make a big list with dates and post it on your wall.
Set a schedule and commit to doing this.
This is key.
When we’re emotionally drained it’s hard to muster up the energy to get things done. By scheduling actions into your calendar you save yourself tons of energy.
Instead of hemming and hawing, you just do it. No debate. No internal quizzing about whether you feel up for it. Just do it.
Fight The Funk Step #6: Keep Yourself Fueled
Focus on healthy habits. Your best bet for taking care of business (and I mean everything – family, emotional, home business, and more) is to have the physical capacity to do this.
Make sure these elements are part of your schedule and daily to-do list.
Get some exercise in every day. My morning routine worked wonders for helping me get through the rest of the day. It sets the tone for the day. It gives me energy and a positive attitude right from the start.
I also integrate action into my workday so by the end of the day not only have I gotten some work done, I’ve also gotten some activity in. I provide some ideas on this in the Fight The Funk Action Kit.
Eat well. Caffeine, sugars and too many carbohydrates will in the end just drag you down – emotionally and energy-wise. Focus on good proteins, lots of vegetables and some nice fruits.
Not only will you feel better due to the good nutrition, but you’ll also know you’re doing good for yourself. Remind yourself that each bite is a positive step. Each healthy bite is an act of regaining control over your situation.
Enjoy your food – use your mealtimes and snacks to recharge. Getting out of a funk can be tough. Relax when you can and savor the moment of relaxation.
Get your sleep. When I got dragged down by a funk I was pushing it in terms of sleep. This only contributes to a short wick and inability to focus. Do what you can to get 7-8 hours of snoozing in.
Make this a priority. It is essential for building up a positive perspective and the energy to carry through with your action plan.
Fight The Funk And Get Back To Work
Step by step reconnoiter and push yourself to get back into a disciplined routine.
We need to acknowledge funks and contend with their origins.
And the nice thing about working at home is that you have more flexibility to shift your schedule in order to take them on.
You can accommodate things that come up – like funks.
But don’t get swept up in the flow. Fight entropy with this plan.
Eventually you need to chart your course. And this plan can help you do it.
Use these steps and you’ll be able to navigate the choppy waters you sometimes find yourself in without drowning in them.
Like this post? Been there yourself? Share your perspectives below.