What to Do When You Hit a Wall

Feel like you’re in a funk?

I’ve been there. In fact, I’m there right now.

As I write this, I'm sitting in a coffee shop, drinking mulled hot cider, trying to recharge.

It seems like every business owner I know is on the brink of burnout. We're all frustrated by something going on in one of our projects. And we’re trying to force it.

As usual, the problem isn’t our projects. It’s us.

We Need to Slow Down

The kiss of death as a business owner is burnout. Entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a sprint. One of the most valuable skills we can cultivate as entrepreneurs is discernment: knowing when it’s time to push harder and when it’s time to ease off the accelerator.

Because if we go too far, it actually takes us longer to get back to where we were. The trick is to notice as soon as burnout starts and then find a way to recover quickly.

It can be scary to slow down, especially if you have a client-centric business that relies on you spending significant time in order to generate revenue. Sometimes it feels like slowing down isn’t an option.

Often, slowing down is the only option. If you’re questioning whether your current pace is sustainable, the answer is almost certainly “No.” Motivation is our scarcest resource, and it’s up to us to conserve it.

Business breakthroughs don’t come from pushing. They come from critical thinking and looking at problems from a different perspective.

Here are 14 ideas to help you go around the wall (instead of trying to hulk-slam through it)…

How to Get Back on Track:

  1. Stop working so hard. Just stop. Give yourself a second, take a deep breath, and slow wayyyy down. I promise there is something you can eliminate in order to create the space. You’ll thank me later.
  2. Stop feeling guilty. Recognize and accept that you won’t be able to move forward until you recharge. There’s nothing worse than taking a break while feeling guilty about taking a break. That’s counterproductive and it's stupid.
  3. Treat yo self. Get a haircut, eat something comforting, take the afternoon off. I don’t care what it is. Just do something that makes you feel special. I can tell you right now that it’s physically impossible to feel stressed while drinking mulled apple cider.
  4. Control the controllables. Sometimes the biggest cause of burnout is actually overwhelm. When we focus on what we can’t control, we feel out of control; when we focus on what we can control, we feel in control. Usually there’s more in our control than we originally thought. If you can't change it, stop worrying about it.
  5. Get out. For those of you who work from a home office, it is absolutely essential that you leave the house at least once a day and interact with real human beings. I don’t care if it’s cold outside. You’re going to start doing weird shit if you don’t get out of the house soon. I'm talking to myself here, by the way.
  6. Stay in. If you’ve been out and about a lot recently, do the opposite. Most of us need time to be extraverted and time to be introverted. Make sure you are getting both in a proportion that work for you.
  7. Do something totally different. Choose an activity you haven’t done in years (or ever). You may need something drastic to snap you out of your daze. Travel is always a good bet.
  8. Move. If you’ve been neglecting exercise, it should now be your number one priority. I know I always feel off if I haven’t done something physical for a few days. Get your ass into those those workout clothes and do something.
  9. Sleep. Let yourself sleep nine or ten hours if that’s what your body needs. And if it feels like you’ve been sleeping too much, wake up earlier.
  10. Eat. Eat good food. If you’re not getting enough sunlight, consider supplementing with Vitamin D. Most of us are deficient, and it will make you feel less depressed.
  11. Get curious. Become present and start noticing how your body feels. No need to judge. Just observe. You'll be able to catch yourself sooner if you know what it feels like.
  12. Zoom out. Look at how far you’ve come and give yourself some damn credit. If you’re reading this, you’ve probably been crushing it. Step away from the to-do list before someone gets hurt.
  13. Listen to good music. The perfect song can change everything. Here's a playlist I made to to help you get perspective.
  14. Be patient. Don’t rush the recharge. It might take longer than you want. Enjoy the wait.

The Bottom Line

If you’re feeling sluggish, welcome to the club. Winter has traditionally been a time to rest, so embrace the opportunity to slow down. Try to see it as a gift instead of a curse.

Most of us hold ourselves to a pretty high standard when it comes to productivity. And it is possible to be productive in the winter, but only if we shift our definition of productive.

Go ahead: Choose something from the list above and do it today. Good things happen when we take the time to pause. Besides…

What’s the point of doing inspiring work if you never get to enjoy it?

(Photo credit: Apionid via cc)

Greg Faxon

Greg Faxon, 2829 Connecticut Avenue NW (Apt 513), Washington, DC 20008, United States