We've all been there. No matter how much we might love our jobs, or how great we might be at them, we all experience periods of professional dissatisfaction where we seem to be continually runningthe gauntlet of negative, unproductive emotions. Sometimes this happens because we've exhausted all our energy finishing up a big project; sometimes it's connected with parallel events going on in our personal lives; and sometimes, well, there doesn't seem to be any particular reason for our loss of enthusiasm and interest in our daily tasks.
Are you in a slump right now? Here are six great quotes to help you get through it and back on to a positive, productive path--no matter what you might be feeling.
"Frustration is the first step towards improvement...It's only when I face frustration and use it to fuel my dedication that I feel myself moving forwards."--John Bingham
Frustration is tricky. At first, it just makes you want to bang your head against your desk or possibly snap some pencils in half. But if you learn how to really listen to your frustration, it can clue you in onthe source of your unhappiness--and what you really want. Try to figure out if your frustration has a defined reason and end date (e.g. an onerous and ongoing task will come to a close at a particular time) or if it's rooted in other, more difficult problems to solve. We come to know ourselves better by paying careful attention to how we behave when faced with difficulties or obstacles, and learning to interpret frustration constructively is a valuable step towards that knowledge.
Of course, turning frustration into a useful tool for self-improvement is no easy task. On days when it seems too much, try this alternative strategy via Phyllis Diller:
"My recipe for dealing with anger and frustration: set the kitchen timer for twenty minutes, cry, rant, and rave, and at the sound of the bell, simmer down and go about business as usual."
"The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity."--attributed to Dorothy Parker
Boredom is dangerous because it feeds on itself: the more bored you are, the more bored you get. So what's the best way to snap out of this self-fulfilling prophecy at work? Cultivate curiosity. Take little steps at first. Ask a question about some small aspect of your company's operations that you've never thought much about before. Find out exactly what happens to those spreadsheets after you've passed them on to marketing. Take someone out to lunch just to learn more about what they do. Just as boredom can take over, so too can your curiosity, if you give it some fertile ground to grow. Small questions lead to bigger ones, and more often than not, to a renewed interest in your work.
"Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task."--William James
I find that a big part of feeling the dreaded fog of fatigue is missing that satisfying sense of completion. When projects are fluid or ongoing, it's difficult to look back at your day with a feeling of accomplishment. One easy strategy to try? Finish a few of your outstanding tasks. Again, start small--there's no shame in crossing off minor items on the to-do list. In fact, these feel like mental clutter; get rid of them and feel that fog lift a bit. Answer that e-mail that's been flagged for three weeks. Empty and organize your bottom desk drawer. Closing the door on these little, unfinished tasks--which leach your focus and attention--will enable you to direct more of your energy towards the bigger questions and more absorbing professional issues.
"Envy comes from people's ignorance of, or lack of belief in, their own gifts."--Jean Vanier
In the middle of a professional slump, it's easy to look around at your colleagues and see only what they have that you don't. But if you feel stalled in your career, it truly has nothing to do with the abilities, talents, or satisfaction levels of anyone else. So instead of looking outward, turn your focus inward. Remind yourself of your gifts. Reflect on all the things you've accomplished in your career so far, and think about how you can use your gifts to fuel your professional future. Sometimes a simple inventory of your own assets is enough to turn envy into gratitude, which is a profoundly more motivating and productive feeling.
And however you might be feeling, simply rephrasing how you think and talk about your "slump" is sometimes all it takes to give you a much-needed boost. In the words of baseball great Yogi Berra: "Slump? I ain't in no slump... I just ain't hitting."