It happens to the best of us. Working hard day to day, we can get mentally and physically fatigued. If we let our work-life balance get out of whack or we focus too much on what is not important to us and neglect what is, we can find ourselves in a funk.
Sometimes we are aware of it, but sometimes it can sneak up on you. You think to yourself one day that you just haven’t been up to snuff. Your motivation is down and so is your productivity. Your creativity decreases, and your energy. You are officially funked up!
The problem with a funk, in addition to its just plain old unpleasant, is that it can hinder progress on important tasks, and even come between us and our loved ones. Left unchecked, our relationships can decline, our mental state and our profits. It can even lead to depression and death! Okay, maybe not death, but I was on a roll!
Still, this is serious business, but there are things we can do to get us back on track.
I recently realized I was funked up. I had gone a long time doing work that what not giving me back what I was giving into it. In response, I began to shut down mentally, not engaging fully in what I was doing. My productivity dropped off, my mood deteriorated, I fell into a depressive state.
Did those around me notice? Of course. Did my wife notice? Oh, you can bet she did!
Quality of life was dive-bombing. If I wasn’t at rock bottom, I was knee deep in gravel.
The following helped me in turning things around.
The Five Actions
1. Get it Out of Your Head
Talk it out. Write it out. Get help if necessary. Bottled up in your own mind, whatever is bothering you will fester.
Research suggests that we have between 50,000 and 70,000 thoughts per day. That’s between 35-48 thoughts per minute! Even more, up to 95% of those thoughts we had the day before. We keep running through the same old scripts constantly.
I believe by writing down your thoughts, or even talking about them can give them substance, we can confront them and minimize their impact. We don’t even need to do anything but talk or write them down. It’s like when brainstorming, once you write an idea down, it frees you to concentrate on other ideas.
If we constantly run through negative scripts, we will invariably suffer from it.
An additional benefit to purging these negative scripts, is that we can concentrate, even for a moment, on more positive thoughts. The more we can do this, the more we can push aside the negative and replace with positive.
The brain is a vastly powerful computer. Funked up input means funked up results.
2. Change Your Perspective
This could be an environmental change or a mental change.
We all need a vacation right? Well, get the funk out of town! Now is the time to do it. Give yourself some distance from whatever is the source of your funk.
Break the cycle of negativity by experiencing something new, whether relaxing or stimulating. A weekend on the beach, a couple good museums or a concert can make a world of difference. It is positive, which helps balance the negative, and it’s fun. A brief respite to gain some perspective.
If your job is getting you down, maybe you need to take a hard look at whether you need to move on. I was told once “if it isn’t any fun anymore, it’s time to move on.” Fun here means worth doing. If your soul is being sucked dry, do something about it.
If you work for yourself, you either need to find a new inspiration, or consider the fact you may not be doing what you need to be doing. Maybe a change is in order, or a pivot to something more suitable.
This leads me to a mental change in perspective. Being our brains are so effective at doing what they are tasked with, shift the way you think about things.
Maybe what you are doing now is hard, but it is short term. If you can shift your paradigm to think of your job as a stepping stone to something better, it may not hold such a tight grip on you.
Remind yourself with what your goals are and why you are doing what you are doing. Maybe you can find some solace that there really is something of value after all.
The caution here is not to get more down by reminding yourself of your dreams. You may find that you are further away from them than you thought. As frightful as that is, there is almost some value to almost everything, if approached in the right way. Being truthful with yourself may be harsh, but it will increase motivation to do something about it. That’s a good thing.
3. Engage in Something Meaningful
This one helped me the most. I started to write down what I was thinking and what I wanted, which helped get it out of my head, helped change my perspective and it was meaningful. That’s a three way win.
It is not easy to maintain a healthy work-life balance, but doing something you love to do may turn funk to funky. Express yourself. Creative endeavors are helpful, as those come from the core of our values, but do anything.
Not only will it help give balance, but it feeds our inner spirit. We become closer to what we want to be when doing what we want (or need) to be doing.
It is hard to be negative when expressing yourself in a positive way, further pushing aside the negative. It will also help build momentum and re-ignite smoldering interests.
This uplifting of your mood will help support the other actions as well, helping to get a positive cycle working in your benefit, rather than a negative one working to your detriment.
4. Get Healthy
When I was young, I wondered how some of the top athletes in my school were also the best students, and seemed to be involved in more extra-curricular activities.
I see now that by being healthy and active, it boosts overall energy and decreases cortisol levels, and therefore stress. Having more energy means getting done what you normally struggle with done with less overall effort. No wonder those athletes out-performed everyone else.
This will also give you more energy to put towards, ahem, doing something more meaningful (see how all these go together?).
Mood will change dramatically with better health, along with lowered stress. What isn’t there good about a better attitude with less stress?
Yes, it can be hard to get started, because you are in a funk. Even a short commitment to change can give you needed momentum, especially if you are working on all the other 4 areas.
This theme runs through all of these to a degree. Our goal is ultimately to take action. Small actions in each of these areas will provide massive benefits in your life.
To do these though, you need to be self-aware. Admitting that there is something funked up in your life comes before identifying what it is, charting a new direction and taking action.
Remember the cycle: Thoughts lead to actions, actions lead to results. If you want better results, you need better thoughts.
Be honest with yourself as you are sitting on that beach, enjoying your change in perspective. What is it you really want, what are you willing to do to get it, and what changes do you need to make in your life to change your situation?
I practiced these and it made a dramatic difference. I have been a hard-core night owl, but now I am driven to get up early to do the thing that is meaningful to me. It lifts my mood, feeds my spirit, helps me be more productive and ultimately more centered and on purpose.
It has been a hard journey, but ultimately worth the effort. However, I had to figure these things out myself. Actually, I bounced around aimlessly, desperately grasping at whatever would help. Eventually these were the activities that provided the most benefit.
Now you don’t have to bounce around and can skip that painful process. We all get in a funk from time to time, and I will again. The important thing is developing the skills that will help you get out of that funk and be productive and happy again.
Be honest with yourself. Are you in a funk? Over the next 5 days, take one meaningful and positive action in each of these areas. You’ll see the results!