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Congratulations Slump, You’ve Been Winning

Updated: Jun 27, 2023


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New journeys start with the exhilarating honeymoon phase. Everything you touch turns to gold. Nothing can stop you. The perfect situation has finally come, and you can tell because God has lined everything up for you to succeed.


Little by little as you continue down the path, pebbles start to pop up threatening to toss you off track. Kids get sick, so you take a day off of work. You lack motivation, so you just don’t do that activity today. You didn’t sleep well, so you’ll just get some rest and be better tomorrow. A day here and there isn’t that big of a deal.


Soon enough, those pebbles are multiplying and becoming rocks and boulders. It’s no longer just a few that you are darting around. Each day you wake up, another larger obstacle waits for you to stumble upon it.



It’s not supposed to be this hard. You begin to question if you even made the right decision. You wonder where you went wrong. Everything had been going so well.

If this resonates with you, congratulations. You’re in a slump. I’m glad you’re here.


Mostly I’m glad you’re here because it means that it isn’t just me.


When I started working on my novel earlier this year, I was determined. I knew this time writing would work out for me. I read books on how to write and craft a story. I wrote every day whether it was a blog, journal entry, novel scene, or random musing. I felt accomplished and even tired at the end of the day because I was putting in the work.


My pebbles started about six weeks after being laid-off. From the beginning of March to the end of April, doctor visits littered my calendar as my kids tag teamed being sick. My husband fell victim to strep throat during this time as well, so writing was on the backburner while I focused on my family.


Despite the backburner, I still wrote about 20,000 words that month. By the end of it, exhaustion had taken root in my soul, but I knew I had vacation coming up.


We had two trips planned. One to New York for just my husband and me, and one to the beach as a family the following month. I took on a lot of the responsibilities when it came to running errands and doing laundry to get ready for said vacations (though thank you Deric for always doing the majority of the packing! He always remembers my chargers). So, I told myself I would take a few weeks off from writing.


Let’s just say that we went to New York at the beginning of April, and by the end of May, I had written about 2,000 more words.


That’s right. In two months, I wrote a tenth of the words I wrote in March. When I was at home, the motivation to write just wasn’t there. The realities of being a writer set in, and I realized it wasn’t going to be all sunshine and rainbows.



Outside of my writing, my slump manifested in how I ate. Prior to being laid off, I had been losing weight consistently for about a year. Ever since, I’ve had absolutely no motivation to continue that journey, and I’ve actually started to go in the opposite direction and gain weight.


Congratulations slump, you’ve been winning.


I’ve been dealing with a lot of stress after being laid off, and a lot of it manifests in how I work and live. There have been days where I watched mostly TV, which I swore I would not do when making this shift. I thought I would walk every day and start exercising more because I would have the time. Writing for a few hours every day was my dream, but a dream only gets you so far.


In my first blog on Cali Creates, I talked about how at peace I was after being laid off and that was completely true. However, I lacked change management in my life.


If you haven’t heard of change management, it’s exactly what it sounds like. It’s managing through a time of change from initial steps until the end. If you’re a manager, you’ve likely had some form of change management training, because change is hard, and your direct reports likely will have complaints. This is true even if the change is a good thing for them.


I need to be able to manage the change, but I’ve been struggling.

Let’s look at a handful of the circumstances I began navigating back in January.

  1. Managing my own time without anyone to answer to.

  2. Relearning my creative process after a decade away from writing.

  3. Learning to be okay without traditional employment right now.

  4. Adjusting to a new budget and way of life.

  5. Raising kids and being a wife.

  6. Meeting new people. (How do you even do this as an adult?)

This list doesn’t touch on everything, but I hope it paints a picture.


So, with everything I’m learning and adapting to, the slump snuck up on me like a lion hunting its prey. And when I realized where I was, the inevitable sadness found me. You’d think being able to identify what is wrong would be motivating, but my initial reaction was dreading failure.


How could I have let this happen? This is my dream. Must not have been a big enough dream if I can’t even stay on task for three months straight. I’m never going to be able to cut it.


Those thoughts are from the devil. They are what turn a slump into a stop, and I came pretty close to a hard stop for a minute.


To be honest, I’m still in my slump, but I’m committed to working my way out of it. If you’re also in a slump, I want you to work out of it too.



While my slump has mostly been work related, they come in all shapes and sizes. Parenting slumps, marriage slumps, faith slumps, and friendship slumps to name a few.


So, here are a few ideas on how to motivate yourself to get back on track (some of which I’ve taken as well).

  1. Ask for help. Just because you feel out of place doesn’t mean you’re in the wrong place. Ask for help so you can keep pursuing your dream. This can be from a friend, a family member, or a professional. I’ve been researching my husband’s EAP program which has help for dependents simply to help me navigate this life change. For me, a professional seems like a good choice because I’ve already expressed my concerns with my family, and while it helps momentarily, I’m still struggling. So, it’s time to take the next step.

  2. Make a list with what you’re struggling with. Make a list and give every struggle a name. You are likely underestimating what is causing you to be in a slump. To be fair, I’m generally not a list person. But because of this post, I wrote down everything I’ve been navigating the past five months, and it’s a lot. When I thought about it in my head, I thought it wasn’t a big deal, but seeing it on paper changed my mindset.

  3. Attack your list one by one. Managing change often starts with small steps rather than a complete and immediate shift. While I didn’t have that luxury with being laid off, I do have the ability to manage what is happening to me as I can. There are a few non-negotiables like raising my children and spending time with my husband, but I can find ways to attack my list. Since my biggest issue right now is time management without anyone to be accountable to, this is something I can and should be researching so that I can improve. Will every day, week, or month be perfect? No. But if I never try any techniques, I’ll be in the same place a month from now. Once you find a rhythm, attack the next issue on your list.

  4. Dangle a reward on a stick in front of you. I know it’s a lame suggestion, but have you ever seen how much people chase a reward they really want? My problem is I can’t find a reward I really want (I’m generally not a big spender, and I don’t want many things). So, for me, I’m going to be brainstorming some ideas on a reward for myself that can help me be motivated.

  5. Figure out if you’re in a slump or if you’re facing burnout. Burnouts and slumps are similar, but they aren’t the same. Make sure you know what you’re facing. If you still like your work, but you lack the motivation or ideas to get it done, you’re likely in a slump. If you don’t care about the work and anything that goes into it, you’re likely burned out.

  6. Get outside. It’s true. Getting outside helps almost everything. Just google it. When Jessie first started her venture outside of a typical 9-5 (in the midst of the pandemic), she began dog walking to get out into the world. She’s well on her way in her freelance career now, but she still keeps up with dog walking because it brings her joy and gets her outside. I take some time outside to pull weeds from my garden. Find what works for you.

  7. Understand this is part of a normal cycle. As humans, we have peaks and valleys. Start your dream job - peak. After six months in your dream job - maybe you start to fall into a valley. Unfortunately, slumps are a part of normal human life, and you aren’t alone. However, while slumps happen, if they linger too long, you may be facing depression. If you think you’re facing depression, PLEASE cycle back to tip #1 and seek help. You do not have to do this alone.

  8. Celebrate the wins. Slumps can cause us to focus on everything we didn’t get done rather than what we did accomplish. For instance, while in my writing slump, I focused on all the words I didn’t write. Then I talked to a friend, and it made me think differently. Yes, I didn’t write much. Yes, I would have preferred to be further along. But I still wrote. I didn’t give up. For me, this is a huge win as I have started and stopped many times before.

  9. Be kind to yourself. The world beats us up enough. Don’t add to it with your own negative self-talk. If you think you’ll never do it, you’ll never do it. Just think, you only have to take one step in the right direction. You can save every other step for tomorrow. Just do what you can today.

  10. And if all else fails, take a nap. Seriously, if you’re constantly tired, a nap and some vitamin D may do you some good. Remember, a sign of depression can be constant fatigue especially if connected to continuous feelings of sadness, hopelessness, disinterest in hobbies you loved, etc. If you’re experiencing depression, please seek help.

With that said, I’m going to take a nap,

Jackie



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