Life is full of twists and turns. And, sometimes those twists and turns don't lead you somewhere pleasant.
There were two moment in my life where this couldn't be more evident. The first instance was when a construction accident almost prevented me from walking again. The second was when my successful business was shut down by Amazon.
Both were so emotionally and physically exhausting that it lead me to some of the darkest periods of my life. Thankfully, I was able to stay motivated and climb out of this rut. Today, I have a family and new business that is kicking ass.
It wasn't easy, but by following these tactics I was able to keep moving forward:
Don't deny that there's a problem.
You're going to have your heart broken. You will likely have a business that is going to fail. Those are life experiences that we all must go through. Instead of denying this pain, acknowledge that it's real. The sooner you do, the sooner you'll be able to move on.
When I had to shutdown Organize.com, I was devastated. I was recently married, and had to let go some of the most amazing employees I've ever had. I had to accept the fact and come to the realization that I lost over a million bucks in a mere 6 weeks. It definitely wasn't my finest hour.
Instead of bottling up all these feelings of anger, sadness, and grief, I acknowledged how I felt and gave myself one day to have a "pity party." I also planned a trip to Disneyland with my wife so that we weren't just sitting around feeling sorry for ourselves. And, after all of these years, I still openly discuss the failure of Organize.com. It's still one of the best ways for me to vent.
Once I realized that I failed, I was able to start moving forward. Instead of denying the pain that I was in, I embraced it by reflecting on why the business failed and putting that knowledge to use towards my next business venture.
Focus on the positives.
I'm sure that you've heard the cliché, "When one door closes, another opens." While you may not believe it, or may not feel that way at the moment -- it's true.
As I mentioned above, when you're in your darkest hour you should take the time to reflect and analyze what went wrong. For me, I asked questions like, "Why did the company fail?" And, "Was there any way that I could have saved it?"
Once I answered those questions I was able to put them to use. After all, I still had bills to pay and a family to take care of, so I couldn't just let my grief overcome me. So I launched my consulting business, Adogy, to solve this problem. Believe it or not, this also helped me emotionally.
This was actually a tactic I learned years earlier after I had an accident during my construction gig in college. My leg was severely damaged after being run over by a large skidster. Since I was bedridden for the next six-months I spent this time learning all I could about online marketing. This was the start of my career. Since then, I've purchased, started, grown, and sold several companies online.
Get started on something.
There's something called the Zeigarnik Effect, which is based on research from Soviet psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik, that states that we want to finish a goal once we start it. This was confirmed in 1992 by two psychologists.
When I was at lowest, I found that setting goals was one of the best motivators. For example, I would say, "Today, I'm booking my trip to Disney and tomorrow I'm going to look for houses around San Francisco." After those were completed I would devote a couple of hours a day to pick-ups like building Adogy, an hour a day to exercise, and 30 minutes to reading an inspirational book. This may not seem like much, but my mood started to improve after I started crossing off items on my to-do-list. Eventually, this motivated me to create more challenging goals.
Adhere to the 24-hour rule.
I alluded to this earlier -- don't throw yourself a prolonged pity party. Give yourself 24-hours to dwell in your pain and then start moving forward. I'm not saying that this is going to solve everything or that you'll feel better the next day.
If you give yourself one-full day of grieving, you force yourself to get-up and get-moving - like I did when I started Adogy. It still took some time to work my way out of this funk. But, forcing myself to get up and work for at least a couple of hours a day helped. Eventually, once I had a little traction and starting making progress, I became more optimistic and productive.
I learned this trick from the legendary Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula who would only allow himself, his coaching staff, and his players 24-hours to celebrate or brood. After the 24-hours were up, it was time to put their focus in preparing for the next game. Shula's philosophy was "that if you keep your failures and victories in perspective, you'll do better in the long run."
Channel your energy elsewhere.
I get it. When everything seems stacked against you the only thing that you want to do is crawl and hide under the covers. But, you can and should channel that energy elsewhere. For me, I started exercising more. It not only helped with my leg, it also reduced all that stress that had just been built-up and gave me an outlet for my anger, frustration, and sadness.
I started blogging and speaking about my failure. I began volunteering and working with the Open to Hope charity daily. This put my struggles in perspective, lifted my spirits, and helped me realize that there's something bigger to life. And, as I've said numerous times before -- I started a new business.
Rely on your support system.
When you're in a funk, you need to surround yourself with positive people, such as your spouse, best friend, parent, or mentor. Not only will they lift your spirits, these people will be the people you'll vent to, ask advice from. They will be the ones you allow to push you where you need to go, or the ones who will just distract you when times are really tough.
I know without a strong and reliable support system, it would have been extremely difficult for me to overcome the failure of Organize.com.
I should also add that this support system doesn't always have to be those closest to you. In my case, my father has been my harshest critic. However, his honesty and feedback have kept me grounded, focused, and motivated - even when it's something that I don't want to hear.
Get out of town.
Sometimes the best way to get yourself out of a slump is to just get away. One of the first things I did was going to Disneyland. Once we came home my wife and I actually sold everything we had and moved to the Bay Area.
Getting out of town was a distraction, helped recharge my batteries, and regain my focus. Furthermore, selling my possessions was therapeutic. It was like finishing a chapter of a book and turning the page to the next chapter. The excitement of finding a new home and exploring a new town forced me to get outside of my comfort zone and appreciate my new surroundings, instead of moping around the house feeling sorry for myself.
There is no right way for regaining your mojo after being in a serious slump. For me, it was acknowledging my feeling, having a strong support system, literally moving on, setting goals, and channeling my energy towards something positive. Without that experience I doubt that I would have ended-up where I am today.
The journey may be different for you, but if you are unable to start motivating yourself and moving on from the pain that you're feeling, you may want to talk to a professional who can listen and share some coping techniques and skills.
How have you been able to motivate yourself during a dark time in your life?