It happens to all of us—what started as a fresh commitment morphs into a begrudging obligation. Work initiatives begun with vision and fervor lose their appeal. Even the “good stuff” we once delved into with all best intentions no longer finds a moment on our daily calendars and starts slipping off our weekly priority lists and soon find themselves on the way back burner.
How do we get back on track when we notice ourselves sliding into a slump? This article offers five of my favorite practices designed to help us “snap out of it” and engage in more meaningful daily routines of living and being.
1. Circle back to your Mission, Vision, and Values. Remind yourself of what matters most to you personally and professionally. What do you love about your current job, profession, career, or avocation? What are two areas of growth or expansion you would like to pursue or recommit to in the next month? Activating your sense of purpose and meaning and connecting them to your current work is a great way to re-energize.
2. Create a morning routine that invites you into a more peaceful, powerful, joy-filled day. There are many resources available to help you create habits of mind and behavior to start your day off with positive and powerful intentions. I begin each day with four simple practices that feed my body, mind, and soul:
*I spend time reading a devotional, the Bible, faith-based literature, or some compelling coaching-related materials. Refreshing and focusing my beautiful brain with positive literature first thing in the morning helps keep me centered throughout the day.
*I journal—akin to Julia Cameron’s practice of “morning pages” –-as a way of siphoning off the negative and banal as well as sharpening and articulating my intentions for the day.
*I spend time reviewing for and planning my day—and refreshing my perspective. Adding intentions and goals for the day or specific aspects or meetings of the day helps keep me elevated and engaged.
*I move—this can be as simple as going for a quick walk, mindfully engaging in a brief stretching routine, or jumping into a full workout, depending on my schedule. Getting my body moving in the morning serves me well for the rest of the day and helps me prioritize getting up and stretching in between meetings
3. Enlist the help of colleagues and friends. Let others know when you are experiencing a “slump” and invite them into one of your daily practices—or start up a new positive exchange or series of conversations. Chances are good that your colleagues have also lost a little zeal and you could serve them by inviting them to join you on a quick walk around the office complex or reaching out to them with a five-minute chat. Invite them into a discussion of happiness and you might find that you are expanding the joy around you.
4. Re-energize by identifying what makes you happy. I know it may sound a little hedonistic—but happiness matters! A sense of inner joy and delight connects us to our passions, talents, and mission. Ask yourself what makes you happy as it relates to key areas in your life. Jot down the ideas and categories. You’ll need them for the last step.
5. Identify and commit to a simple daily action plan for yourself—featuring the “happiness” items as you clarify what success will look like for you each day. When I catch myself feeling overwhelmed or “down” for more than a few days, I revert to something I call “Finger’s Top Five.” After reminding myself what matters most by articulating what makes me happy—I commit to spending defined amounts of time engaging myself in the following five areas daily:
*10 minutes meditating, reading a spiritual text, or praying. This time limit helps define my morning practice and doesn’t feel intimidating. When I find myself wandering—it’s easy to call myself back when I know I’ve only got nine more minutes to spend. And it’s also easy to be pleased with myself when I “go over!”
*20 minutes engaging with a friend I haven’t seen/spoken to in too long. This could be an email, a phone call, a text exchange, a walk down the hall. But it must happen—every day. And it must include something non-work related. Bonus if this also makes you both smile.
*30 minutes in nature. This could be a walk outside, cuddling with a pet, tending to a garden, or even something as simple as watching hummingbirds flutter in my yard.
*40 minutes engaging in intentional exercise. This could be my daily exercise, a walk, a trip to the gym, or even time walking around the house and lifting impromptu “weights” (when snowed in!) Honor your body by moving and challenging it—without judgment, with as much joy as you can find.
*50 minutes contributing to the well-being of others. For me this could be engaging with a client in a coaching session, it could be volunteer work, it could be helping a friend problem solve. It could be spending time with a partner or family member, with the intent of supporting or delighting them. There has to be an external focus and an intent to be of use to others for this to “count” for me.
What might your “top five” items look like? The key is to define daily practices that you find personally energizing and to give yourself permission to go after them.
Creating and engaging in your daily practices will help lead you back to a sense of purpose—personally and professionally.