Are you in a slump? Whether it's a creative slump, feeling off-track with your workouts, or getting over a breakup, slumps can be tough! So how do you get yourself "unslumped"? In this episode our panel shares different times they have been in a slump and what they did about it. We hope their experiences give you some helpful ideas for shortening the next slump in your life!
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Dr. Jo Burkholder
Advice Column Podcast:
Dr. Jo Burkholder 0:00
I was alone, I was miserable.
Jim Matteo 0:03
I felt stuck in not having the motivation and feeling someone lost.
Ron Jenson 0:09
I struggled with that, that really broke my heart.
Dr. Jo Burkholder 0:13
The likelihood of ever getting another research grant was pretty close to nil.
Ben Wood 0:17
I was in a major slump with my health, about as heavy as I've ever been.
Dr. Jo Burkholder 0:22
No matter how hard I tried, I wasn't really making any ground.
Lisa Liguori 0:33
Welcome to Advice Column. I'm Lisa. And on this podcast, we share stories with each other. So we know we're not alone. And so we can accelerate our learning by leveraging each other's experiences and wisdom. I'm so glad you're here. In this episode, we're talking about slumps, and specifically how to get out of them. So you're going about your life and things are just humming along. And then something happens maybe slowly or maybe abruptly, and you get off track. And it's like when a sliding door or screen door gets off the track. And there's friction, and it's hard to get that thing back in the groove and moving more smoothly. So how do you get yourself back on track? Again, I'm searching for support in this because I'm in a major slump with my health. And it's not the first one, I have a pattern in my life of cycling between taking care of my health, specifically my nutrition and my weight, and not doing that and just really abusing my body with junk food. Nutrition feels like my Achilles heel where it's the first thing I lose discipline on when I'm under stress. I've been talking about it for a long time, I've been cycling through it a long time. And I just haven't been able to break that cycle. When I got married two and a half years ago, I was at a great fitness level for myself. And since then I've been rapidly declining in my health practices, I've gained a ton of weight, where I don't even look like the same person. And I'm having a really hard time changing my momentum in my direction. I feel really disappointed in myself for losing ground that I had worked hard for. And I feel embarrassed by my body and by my struggle. And I feel scared because I know I'm harming myself. In fact, I had some heartburn or something the other day and I had to ask myself, well, could I be having a heart attack because I'm so out of shape. And then I feel out of alignment with my values, because I do value my well being. And yet time and time again, I find myself putting off changing. And it just feels like I'm too weak to make the change. And it should be so simple to just do it. And I also think it should be easy because it's not like curing cancer or something where we just don't know how to do it. It's a very easy formula where I know exactly already what I need to do. And all I have to do is follow the formula. I think there's so much at stake for me with this because if I don't get out of my unhealthy slump, I will literally shorten my lifespan. I'll rob myself of energy and emotionally might be even as significant because it affects my confidence and my feeling of empowerment in my life. If I can break the cycle, it will help me feel empowered, healthy and also just through the process I think improve my skills for coping with life's challenges. So I love the line from Dr. Seuss are the Places You'll Go that says when you're in a slump, you're not in for much fun and slumping yourself is not easily done. So today I've asked our panelists to share how they unplugged themselves, and the time they were in a slump in order to give you and me ideas for doing the same thing in our lives. Let's take a listen.
Danielle Baldwin 4:04
My name is Danielle Baldwin. I live in San Diego. I'm a Vistage chair, executive coach, writer and developmental editor. There have been so many instances that I can think of where I've been in a slump, both from a leadership perspective, but also from a writing perspective. For me, the one that's coming top of mind, because I'm just getting myself out of a slump is a writing slump. So I've been working on a nonfiction project, I had a lot of momentum with it. And then suddenly it just stopped. I wasn't able to get the words on the page that I wanted to. I wasn't making the time to sit down and work through the project. I was missing milestones and dates. So it just seemed like no matter how hard I tried, I wasn't really making any ground. I think there are a few different emotions that come up when I think about The different slumps I've had, over time, certainly frustration and anger, some depression even. But I think even deeper than that there's a sense of shame and even embarrassment, that I'm unable to move the needle to be able to get myself out of whatever slump, I'm in. One of the critical tools that I've learned over time, which I think a lot of people are aware of is mindset. Inevitably, whenever I'm in a slump somewhere, the first thing I have to identify is the mindset that I'm using to approach that work. So if we use the nonfiction project, what's the story? Pardon the poem that I'm using when I, when I approach it when I sit down, is the story. These words aren't worth telling. This isn't unique. It is an original, who will read that. More often than not, I find that slumps overwhelmingly, are based on a shift in mindset that we have to the negative. And what I realized is I really needed to shift that around. I you know, I coach writers and say that everybody has a unique take on every topic, right? The same books been written over and over and over again. And yet, we still read them because they're written with a unique perspective or a unique voice. And then it's breaking it down into things that are manageable, and not putting yourself into overwhelm. So you know, I don't need to write for two hours every day. But if I can write for 20 minutes, that I can start to build up strength over time, these bite sized goals that aren't overwhelming, and can allow you to build momentum makes me feel really good and helps me to get out of a slump. With that book, I'm happy to say that I'm continuing to write it, it had it had been shelved for quite some time, months at a time. And now based on the way that I've been approaching the work, it's coming out. It's exciting.
Brittany Schmid 7:05
My name is Brittany Schmid, and I am the owner of five Dale Carnegie training franchises in California, I was in corporate positions for most of my life, and kind of took a big risk with my family and finances and went all in to start a business just was on this beautiful trajectory, loving what I did, loving who I did it with. So in COVID Hit it felt like it was more than just COVID the impact it was having, not just on our family, but all the families and I don't think I really realized the slump that I was in until I was out of it. And so a significant part that I have been able to look back at now 18 ish months later, is the impact of momentum. Moving forward, not necessarily even knowing to what end but just making sure that there's new things and waking up in the morning and getting going and moving forward in general. The other one would be, obviously, community around you. So being a part of a beautiful community of family in my life, friends in my life, and then other business owners that I've been honored to be friends with in San Diego. So one friendship in particular, Kristen Kael, she was able to I'll say, almost pull me out of the abyss and start to just kind of get excited again and and start being future thinking and forward thinking and getting myself outside of the physical situation in some instances outside the mental situation and other instances. And the takeaway is, when in a slump, just keep going
Jim Matteo 9:00
my name is Jim Matteo, I am a entrepreneur, a time that I was in a slump was right before I started my flagship business birdrock systems, I was working for other companies and just feel, you know, as motivated and the purpose that I you know, life purpose that I felt like I was really destined to achieve and, you know, the emotions that I felt that that time this time of being in a slump was just, you know, sadness and over not in not having the motivation and not, you know, not living the life of purpose and in achieving the things that I know I could achieve. feeling somewhat lost. I had an opportunity to get back to my roots at that time and get back to entrepreneurship. When I started birdrock It was transformational and it was really about taking a first step And then once I had direction, definitely went from that, you know, slump sadness to a state of just bland and euphoric and, and felt like I had just gone to a very, very different place. You know, for me it was reflecting back on, on who I was and where I had been successful in the past, recognizing that recognizing the things that I valued, and you know, how I excelled when I was younger as an entrepreneur, and taking the steps to get back to that, and now a company that's been on the Inc 5007 times and, you know, just had consistent growth over the years. And the thing that is brought tremendous meaning to me is all the people that we've helped that I've been able to help team members that I've helped grow and become great leaders. So it's been a lot of great things that came out of it, starting a company, growing a company growing a team, developing leaders, you know, that's benefited me, personally, it's benefited my family, it's benefited all those team members. So seeing the that Circle of Success and all the people that have been been influenced by this company I started birdrock has been incredibly rewarding.
Jessica Zemple 11:33
I was in a relationship with someone I loved deeply that external circumstances did not allow for us to stay together. This absolutely rocked my world and put me in a slump for months, I felt unmotivated, uninspired, and honestly, aimless. Even little things like making dinner was hard at times. This was wildly uncomfortable, because I am usually the one lifting everyone up. And so it was a strange time for me to be in this sad state. To help me move through my slump, I had to practice acceptance, I had to accept that I can't do everything that I'm used to, and that I really needed time to heal. I also surrounded myself with loved ones to help me lift my spirits, I even had to ask for help, which was really an uncomfortable thing for me. I also gave myself a lot of grace. So typically, I eat really healthy and work out a lot. And I allowed myself to eat pizza, more than normal. And I took days off from working out, just because I wasn't motivated, and I didn't have the energy to do it. And I watch TV more than I normally would. I just allowed myself to really be in that space and feel all the feelings and let them pass through. And I really had to be patient sometimes time is really the only answer. With time, I started to feel like myself again, and maybe even a little bit better version of myself because I had expanded in so many different ways. I learned to stay true to me, even when wildly uncomfortable, like holding my boundaries, or acting out of love, even when faced with fear. We have a choice every day we can choose to show up with love even when others are not. And if you can do that, I think you can handle anything in this world.
Ron Jenson 13:57
My name is Ron Jenson, I work as a communicator, I speak at conventions mostly internationally and I'm a executive life coach. I was hit sometime back when one of our dogs died, he was killed by a coyote. She died in my arms to the hospital, you know, and that really, really broke my heart. And I really struggled with that for a period of time. But I learned some things that were really helpful in the process. I was clearly feeling incredibly sad about this and I was in grieving because she would sit on my lap during the day and she was always there for me she was very faithful. What I learned out of this whole process of grieving and actually being open to my pain and actually weeping I remember putting together the pictures of Joey and just letting them kind of flow over me so I could actually not hide my feelings or run away from them are just getting involved in something else. Instead, I just thought about joey and how much I loved her and cared for and, you know, wept during that time, of course, and, and just felt deeply. And in fact, instead of just sharing all the good things on Facebook and Instagram, I decided to be vulnerable and open and honest and share a picture and share the stories and the pain of watching this little dog of mine die in my arms and how just sad I was. And I don't think people were used to seeing me being sad, but we tend to share our best sides, not our worst sides, but I decided to share be more vulnerable in this case. And, and I learned from that an interesting thing. Number one, it was good for me, it was therapeutic for me. It started to turn pain into joy. And the grieving process really worked through that. But I also saw the responses and I got more responses at a deep emotional level. Hundreds and hundreds of them than I'd ever gotten with any of the videos I've done or, or stories I've told are great pictures being with wonderful people all around the world, people were more touch more engaged with my pain, and they can empathize with it. And so I learned to be more honest and open and filled with empathy, and vulnerability. And I'm trying to put that to practice at the days to come.
Dr. Jo Burkholder 16:33
I'm Joe Burkholder. I'm an anthropologist. I'm an author. So I, on one level had this sort of dream career, I struggled but basically waltz through grad school in record time in my field, I did all of for job interviews to land three academic jobs in a row, which is unheard of. And I got tenure at a nice little University in a in a small town in Wisconsin, and about 2017. To use the running metaphor, I realized it sort of hit the wall, the program that I had been hired to build had shortfalls and cutbacks and realize the likelihood of ever getting another research grant was pretty close to nil. My marriage had been falling apart for years. And I suffered a traumatic accident that ripped all the hamstrings off of my hip. So needed surgery that required them learning how to how to walk again, I was alone, I was miserable. I felt stuck, and just terribly, terribly desperate to be out and anywhere, anywhere other than where I was, I can enjoy the pain, learn to live with it, or I could do something different. That's where the creativity and exploration kicked in. I needed to do something new, explore something new, try something new. That didn't come with precedence. I took some risks. I I apply for a new job at the university. And I responded to outreach from an old college friend who turned out to be you know, the really literally sort of the one that got away. The new love of my life was in Seattle, I told my dean, I was going to take a year's leave of absence, collected my last paycheck and I loaded up a truck and move to Seattle. I kind of threw myself from the top of the ivory tower and hoped that I would grow wings on the way down before I went splat. And I now do some coaching with people thinking about leaving academic careers, to guide them through that process in a way that I didn't have when I did it and wished I did and to do better planning than I did. And it's not been easy, but I've been making it work. Look back are you going to be happier for having taken the risks or or live with the pain
Ben Wood 19:34
I'm in a major slump with my health. And I weighed myself and I was about as heavy as I've ever been. The idea that I six months ago took a look at the same circumstance and situation and said I was going to do all these different things and lo and behold here I am six months later and I didn't do them. I let my taste buds and my love for pizza burritos and bread. Come in the way of me and my goals I could have By now, so I'm just a little bit just disappointed myself. But I spent a lot of time reflecting yesterday and figured you know what, why not just start again. So I woke up this morning, spent some time on a long walk with my dog, and came back and listed all the things that get me to my goal and all the things that distract me from my goals. And I'm going to try to review that list every single day several times a day, so that it reminds me of the things I should be spending my time doing. Things I should not be spending my time doing. It involves several different factors, one of which is foods I put in my house, which in turn, get into my body. And then also being cognizant of how often I eat out, as well as my water intake, how many steps I'm getting in the day, having moderate portions, I've reached out to a couple different people that have helped me along the way and reengage them in have me start this anew and feel like I'm on the right track, at least this morning.
Lisa Liguori 21:09
Wow, I am so grateful to our panelists for their vulnerability and sharing their experiences. I'm struck by all the different areas of life where we can feel slumped, or doubt ourselves, from career slumps to relationship, dry spells to creative slumps, and, of course, health slumps and talking to our panelists and even others along the way. I heard so many great ideas for breaking through Islam. I heard to reach out to friends and community and ask for help. I heard to give ourselves grace, practice acceptance, I heard an idea of writing down a plan. I heard focusing on being present. I heard having faith that it'll work out. I also heard to focus on mindset and that sometimes mindset is where it all starts. And then I heard that sometimes it just takes digging deep and having grit, and that we have to just keep going. That reminded me of Dory from Finding Nemo, just keep swimming. One of my biggest takeaways is not to get isolated and to not lose hope. I hope some of these ideas will support you through the lows in your journey and help you get back in the groove as quickly as possible. Most of all, I hope you know that you're not alone in what you go through in life. To that end, to connect with your advice column community, you can go to advice column.com and until we meet again, lots of love