Boundless Leadership: How to get out of a life-numbing slump

It’s hard to feel Boundless when you are in a funk. It’s the dreaded slump. That feeling when everything feels hard, you are worried about little progress, and feel like your mojo has checked out for good.

Fear not! The slump is just a dip. And a dip precedes a bounce.

Everything moves in waves - energy, sound, emotions, the seasons, the sea. There is an ebb and flow, a rise and fall, an inhale, and exhale.

We KNOW this.

But we are inevitably surprised when we find ourselves in the slippery dark slide of a dip.

Fear not fellow dipsters! Help is at hand.

“Slump? I ain't in no slump... I just ain't hitting.” Yogi Berra

American professional baseball catcher, who later took on the roles of manager and coach. He played 19 seasons in Major League Baseball

Here are four types of questions to help us make use of the dip.

1. Reflect on the past when there was a peak (not a trough). This is time to CELEBRATE:

  • What worked?
  • What went well?
  • Who can I thank?

2. Reflect on the present dip. This is the time to REFRAME:

  • What didn’t work?
  • What's good about this?
  • What do I want instead?  

3. Consider the future dip. It’s time to REFOCUS. This is about being prepared.  

  • What reserves (cash, supplies, suppliers) do I need?
  • How can I reduce friction and drag before the dip? (What can I let go of - relationships, obligations, beliefs)?
  • What strategies help me in the dip? For me, strategies include baths, chill out time, decluttering, tidying, reflection, planning.

4. Focus on the future possibilities. This is time to CREATE:

  • What's next?
  • Why is that important to me?
  • What does it look, feel, sound like?

There is natural variation, or fluctuation, in progress. Results are rarely linear. In business, some months are good, some months are bad. What we’re looking for is the pattern, and the trend. We can learn from the peaks, we can learn from the troughs. Overall, we want to know if we are improving and ending up further ahead.

If we’re not progressing, we may have hit a setpoint. Like a thermostat, we have an internal regulator for all sorts of things: happiness, physical weight, and even financial results. These setpoints are a subconscious regulator - to keep us safe by creating a default we are familiar with. Unfamiliarity is a threat, so subconsciously we move back to the status quo, the familiar, even if this is not what we consciously want.

If you’re in business, here’s how to calculate your financial setpoint. You can use the same strategy for calculating setpoint for other results you want to shift, like weight.

Over the last twelve months, what are the five months with the best results? Now take their average. This is your setpoint.

How do you move your setpoint? Consciously choose a new number. Put that number in your phone as a reminder, phrased as an affirmation. For example, “I now weigh ….” or “I now earn …. per month.”  Make sure it is a stretch for you, but not completely incredulous. It’s got to be believable. It should feel like a tingle, something you want to play with. If you reject your affirmation out of hand, just adjust it to a figure that fits the tingle test.

How do you handle the dip? What’s the best thing you have learned through a slump? How do you shift setpoints?

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