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How to Break Out of a Slump and Improve Your Performance

If you’re like me, your level of productivity and motivation goes in waves.

Sometimes you flourish, are highly motivated, and making a ton of progress.

And other times, you feel stuck and suppressed, and you transition into an idle season of reflection. (The winter months in Kansas City don’t help this urge to hibernate!)

The problem is, sometimes we don’t have the luxury to take a contemplative mental vacation. We still have deadlines and still need to be productive. The world around us won’t slow down and cater to our needs.

So to help you break out of a slump and maintain your performance here are seven tips.

Pursue education and training

When I’m in a funk I find it helpful to continue learning, and to use the down time as a type of incubator for my creative revival. Between podcasts, ebooks, and online training there are numerous ways to conveniently keep learning and growing.

Just as we have to workout, exercise, and eat healthy to build muscle and get in physical shape, we also need to exercise our mind and spirit and push ourselves beyond our current level.

Keep in mind that in order to actually make progress and improve performance we must turn the “information” into “transformation.”

What skills do you need to gain, what knowledge do you need to learn to get to where you want to get to?

Find support 

If you feel stuck, consider reaching out for help. We can all make improvements and get better by connecting with teachers, coaches, mentors, or people who have successfully done what we’re trying to do.

It isn’t easy to admit we need help, but when we find someone who can support and encourage our success; it’s easier to navigate the valleys of life.

We’re going to reach a plateau at some point, so just be prepared to connect with a mentor, or coach, or any type of teacher whom is one step ahead and can help you along.

Do the little things

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when we have mammoth goals we want to accomplish. If you’re someone with big ambitions you may find that you end up feeling stuck because you’re getting ahead of yourself.

If you’re in a slump, focus on doing the little things each day that have an impact. This will help you start building momentum.

Don’t forget that substantial results come from the accumulation of small steps. Small hinges will hold a big door.

What small positive steps can you start taking today?

Take a break and relax

Improving performance isn’t always about doing more and working harder. If we’re overwhelmed and stressed out we’re not going to be up to par.

It’s important to work hard, but equally as important to take a break from time to time. We need relaxation and most importantly we need our sleep.

A good starting place to help you relax is to take short consistent breaks each hour. My philosophy is to work for about 45-50 minutes and then take a 10-15 minute break when possible.

It seems counterproductive because you’re working less minutes overall, but with a hourly break you give the mind a chance to recharge and can work with greater intention and focus over the long-term.

Keep a positive attitude

Many people start to get negative when they aren’t making progress or are struggling to get results. They start to doubt their capabilities and get tunnel vision on problems and weaknesses. This only exacerbates the negative trend and we end up feeling self-pity and are even less productive.

If we can shift our attitude and manage this negativity bias, it will help us problem solve and remain more resilient so we can break out of our slump and handle challenges as they come.

Here are a few ways to keep a positive attitude.

  • Be grateful and count your blessings each day
  • Focus on how you’re serving others and helping them
  • Focus on the here and now and the future to come

Set small milestones and reward yourself

The road to your goals may be long and winding so set clear milestones for interim success and reward yourself along the way.

Establish daily, weekly, and monthly goals and prioritize accordingly. Be clear on what your prioritize are and stay committed to these.

With clear and achievable milestones we’ll notice progress and can give ourselves credit and praise for a job-well-done. Sometimes when we’re in a funk, all we need are a few small victories to drive us forward.

Whether you’re struggling to make progress on that yearly performance review, or you’re stalled in growing your business, hopefully these ideas can help improve your performance and get you unstuck.

Photo credit: remco horbach

How to Break Out of a Slump and Improve Your Performance

Joe Wilner

Joe Wilner is a life coach, licensed clinical psychotherapist (LCP), and drummer from the band Yes You Are. He is also creator of You Have a Calling, a blog and online community helping people discover and pursue their life’s work and mission. Through deep and personalized coaching, he helps ambitious, creative, and spiritually minded individuals make a greater impact, grow as leaders, and design a soulful life they are inspired by.

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APA Reference
Wilner, J. (2017). How to Break Out of a Slump and Improve Your Performance. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 27, 2020, from


Last updated: 4 Feb 2017
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