When it comes to practicing and career planning for the new season, has your motivation taken a hike? Here’s my 3-step cure for your summer slump.
If you feel guilty about not practicing and unhappy with wasting hours scrolling through your social media or glued to Netflix, stick with me here.
And if you’re worried that September will be here before you know it—and that you won’t have anything positive to show for the summer months—then this post is for you.
The formula for turning this summer around
What if I told you there’s an actual formula—a 3-step cure for saving the summer and feeling better about yourself?
And what if I told you it simply involves taking on a few new habits and making those your regular routine?
What would it be worth to you to be, say, 50% happier with yourself and your life?
I’m asking because in order to take on new habits, you need to let go of old ones. Ouch.
NOBODY likes change. We resist it. We want to stay cocooned in our comfort zones.
I see it all the time with my clients. They come to me wanting to move forward in their careers. They’re motivated, accomplished musicians, so there’s no problem with their ability to do what’s needed.
But the real determinant in whether or not they’ll be able to move forward comes down to their willingness to make changes to their daily habits — and to stick to them.
Let me tell you about a musician I’ll call Katarina
She came to me because she was at a career crossroads. A successful musician and educator, Katarina is a full-time faculty member at a small university. But one who’d been experiencing burnout — a slump in her motivation and self-esteem.
Katarina found herself doubting her abilities as a teacher. She also worried she wasn’t measuring up to her colleagues or delivering her best to her students.
She was doing the work but her heart wasn’t in it and she wasn’t motivated to practice, network, or plan her own performances.
What can you tweak to get out of a slump?
In talking with Katarina, it became clear that she felt depleted. She wanted a clear boundary between work and home, and to stop mindlessly scrolling through her feeds. She also wanted to take better care of herself, build her network, and find more professional development opportunities.
Although there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, this we know for sure: for change to happen, you need to be in control of how you use your time. So this formula applies to all:
“Small” Adjustments + New Habits + Consistent application = BIG Results
Katarina and I worked on making a few changes to her schedule and her habits. These involved her morning routine, how she ended each day, and being far more intentional about when and how she connected with people online.
Three relatively small adjustments. But I know that even “small” habits aren’t easy to change.
That’s why I was so impressed with Katarina. She stuck with it. And these changes made a huge difference.
After just a few months, Katarina reported that she was feeling MUCH better about her teaching, her music, and her self. That she felt better physically. And that the difference these changes had made in her life were (her word) ”amazing.”
I could see and hear the difference in our Zoom sessions. Katarina looked less stressed; she seemed freer and happier.
Here are the actual changes Katarina made — and what you could also use to cure your slump:
#1 Adopt a morning routine
For Katarina, this meant getting up early to focus first on what matters most—her creative projects. This meant NOT using her cell phone as her alarm clock. And NOT checking email or social media until she first invested in her own creative priorities.
You may not see the link between checking your phone and feeling anxious, distracted, and discouraged, but this is real. And only you can do something about it.
By investing in herself first thing each morning, Katarina found that she was better able to deal with stresses that came up later in the day. And it also meant that because she’d done her most important work first, that she could then have guilt-free time off for family and friends.
#2 Keep a Gratitude Journal
Before turning in for the night, Katarina now writes down in her journal a list of 3-5 good things that happened during the day—whatever she was genuinely thankful for. And then throughout the day, whenever she starts to feel discouraged or wanting to procrastinate, Katarina uses the Grateful Flow tool to counteract the negativity.
Having a gratitude practice helps us notice what inspires us, when it is we feel most alive, and what’s actually going well. That way we can identify the good stuff that we want to “lean into” and do more of.
I’ve found that having a Gratitude practice also improves sleep and your general outlook. But like everything else, you have to do this consistently to reap the benefits.
And one last step . . .
#3 Schedule intentional online time
Like many of us, Katarina had become addicted to constantly checking email, texts, and social feeds. Her new habit is to reserve specific times each day (start and stop times) for online connecting.
This habit in particular is hard for many of us. The addiction is real, so it takes real commitment and consistent follow through. Changing habits takes courage.
Katarina was motivated—she really wanted to change her situation, so she stuck with it.
What can you gain from making small changes to your habits?
Katarina’s new habits helped her re-connect with what she originally loved in her teaching and in music. By keeping her new habits she gained the time and space to hear herself think. And to be more present with others.
This gave her room to notice what was going well, what she was grateful for, and whatever she wanted to change.
I’m thrilled that Katarina’s new habits got her feeling better about herself and her teaching — and back into forward motion.
But maybe you’re thinking, Yeah, but I just don’t see how getting up early, being thankful, and regulating how I use my phone is going to improve my career . . .
Here’s what I’ve learned through my clients and my own experience:
The biggest transformations all start with small changes
It’s our consistent small habits that set us up to connect with larger life forces. It’s as though the universe conspires in our favor once we are taking consistent courageous action.
What do I mean?
When you make a promise to yourself and keep it, it’s important. Whether it’s getting up early, writing in your gratitude journal, or limiting your online networking to specific times of day—or anything else. As psychiatrist and author Phil Stutz writes,
“The most meaningful thing you can do is make a promise to yourself and keep it. You start to feel like you can trust yourself and rely on yourself. This makes everything you do meaningful, in an inner sense. The quest for meaning is the most powerful motivator a human being can experience.”
When you honor your commitment you prove that you can make change happen—for yourself and for the world. That’s tremendously motivating.
That’s why for me it’s so inspiring to see my clients’ commitment—and the transformations they experience because of it. I think about how these musicians impact their audiences, their students, and their colleagues—and the ripple effect this has in the world. And that’s why it’s an honor and a privilege to do this work and I am truly grateful for it.
Put the 3-step cure for your summer slump into action this week
By taking on new habits this summer you can set yourself up for success moving into the fall. And you can make better use of the free time you have, once you’ve taken care of your essential morning work.
If you’re ready to turn your summer slump around, and want to change your career trajectory with the help of expert coaching—let’s talk.
And don’t forget, you can join us for the weekly FB Live discussions in our free Facebook group.
Here’s to your forward motion,
Dream Big, Plan Smart, Live Well