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Eight tips to break a mid-year slump

Feeling worn down?

Feeling worn down?

Are you having a mid-year slump? Are your staff? Has your company had a sluggish start to the new financial year as it still catches its breath from the last one?

As a manager, I sometimes noticed staff needed extra motivation in July - and especially August. Now, as a small business owner, I find these months easily the most grinding of the year.

Perhaps it’s the cold weather, or that it seems a long time between the short Easter break and the next long break over Christmas. Maybe you had a short family break over the school holidays, but juggling kids, travel, work and a business hardly felt relaxing. Or you just feel tired after going hard all year.

What’s your view?

  • Do you ever have a mid-year slump where you lose motivation and find work a chore?
  • If so, what are the causes?
  • How do you break the funk?
  • If you manage staff, do you do anything different to motivate them?

The good news is that a lot can be done to break mid-year slumps if you make an effort.

I asked Shannah Kennedy, a leading life coach and author and publisher of Simplify, Structure Succeed, for tips on how small business owners can break the dreaded mid-year rut. She had eight.

First, she suggests getting a blank piece of paper and revising your 2012 plans and goals (who writes those each year?). Assess if they are relevant and realistic, and whether you still want them.

Second, Kennedy suggests writing five things you want to achieve by Christmas, to focus on positives rather than negatives. Write about what you want, rather than dwell on what you do not have.

The next step is reassessing your physical and mental health. “Small shifts [in your health] have massive effects,” Kennedy says. “Even cutting down your portion size by a quarter or a third at each meal can have a lasting effect.”

The fourth step is updating your finances. Kennedy’s book talks about “drainers”, or the annoying things that create more stress the longer they are put off. Tax returns are a good example. She says identifying and eliminating drainers provides immediate stress relief.

“De-cluttering your life is the next step towards creating a simpler, more streamlined environment,” she says. “This is the big clean-out you’ll need to do before you can structure new opportunities and strategies that support you to be your best, with optimal wellness both personally and professionally.

She adds: “High achievers often struggle with feeling cluttered, overwhelmed and overextended, because they take on so much of everything and create a great amount of opportunity. Working parents also know only too well how difficult it is to juggle work, life and play.”

Kennedy’s next tip is booking in date nights with your partner, to freshen up conversations. She also believes in each partner routinely having their own time with friends, or a boy's or girl's night out.

The sixth tip is scheduling a short break between now and Christmas, even if just a long weekend. Its good advice: I know many business owners who go most of the year without a break because they have no replacement. The only way around it is by planning short breaks well in advance.

Kennedy’s seventh tip to break a mid-year slump is creating a simple structure of routine. This could be as simple as blocking out 45 minutes each day for exercise. Or making it routine to finish work earlier on Friday, or turning your phone off on Saturdays and “unplugging”.

The final tip is most important: write down what success means to you.

I’m sure some readers will see this advice as commonsense, or even new-age nonsense. But how many people who suffer mid-year slumps systemically do something about it, to break their rut?

How many people talk about making changes but don’t make it part of their routine, so give up after a week or two?

I reckon that if this advice helps corporate executives and professional athletes that Kennedy coaches, it is good enough for small business owners who are stuck in a rut.

12 comments so far

  • I have recentyl encountered this myself, Im 30 years old, single (work burns out the girls!) and have been in my own business for 10 years now, I eat, breathe and live it.
    Several weeks ago I hit a huge wall, lost interest completely, so I did what any self respecting lad should do, turn in a massive bender, girls, blow, the lot

    On reflection when sobering up it put things in perspective for me, and I had this huge sense of guilt for having done what I just did, my drive reappeared and bang, im back to normal

    To each ther own!

    Date and time
    August 13, 2012, 1:31PM
    • De-cluttering drainers such as tax-returns ...
      Good idea let's stop paying tax, they only waste it on themselves anyway.

      Date and time
      August 13, 2012, 8:33PM
      • "I know many business owners who go most of the year without a break because they have no replacement. The only way around it is by planning short breaks well in advance."

        This is the sort of non-sequitor moronism that passes for advice.

        If a small-business owner has no "replacement", how exactly does planning ahead for a short break work ?

        Date and time
        August 14, 2012, 8:37AM
        • It would make a lot more sense to advise: plan to find a replacement well in advance, and then, after you have found the replacement, then plan the short break.

          Planning the short break well in advance, if you are indispensable and don't have a replacement available, is just dumb.

          Date and time
          August 14, 2012, 11:26AM
      • "High achievers often struggle with feeling cluttered". . No, high achievers are the problem. They are the cheer squad that drive the rest of us on through jobs that are often demeaning and pointless. Who sold us into the slavery of husband and wife working instead of more leisure time. Well, all that started with the Trojan horse arrival of the credit card in the 1970s and as consumers we carry some culpability but the "high achiever" wields the whip. The fact that they are often the most aggressive, ambitious yet myopic doesn't help. Enough of these silly self-improvement tips. We need a broader debate about where we are going as a society.

        Blue Mountains
        Date and time
        August 14, 2012, 8:47AM
        • Thanks Garth - ask the better questions - there's a tip.

          Date and time
          August 15, 2012, 5:42PM
      • I counted nine tips, not eight. No matter, they're all good!

        Pete in Cronulla
        Date and time
        August 14, 2012, 2:47PM
        • Thank-you for this thoughtful and practical article - happily we're not suffering will from the midwinter blues, but we'll file the advise away for possible future reference.
          One more positive and practical tip to add to those already given: Each morning, set yourself three small, quick and easy tasks. Do them first thing. Straight away. The sense of instant progress will get your day off to a great start.

          Date and time
          August 15, 2012, 8:06AM
          • I especially like tip 7, "creating a simple structure of routine. This could be as simple as blocking out 45 minutes each day for exercise. Or making it routine to finish work earlier on Friday"

            In our office we've joined the Daffodil day NonAThon and we'll be donating an hour's wages to Cancer Council while we take an hour off.

            Date and time
            August 16, 2012, 12:37PM
            • Like many business owners, I work a ridiculous number of hours each week. Business is making a profit but we do not have spare cash for me to take on the help that I need. I do most roles within the organisation such as bookkeeping, AR, AP, bank transactions, reconciling statements, filing, lodging BAS, lodging PAYG, HR, trying to keep up with every changing legislation, end of year tax, super returns and reconciliation, PAYG summaries. That is without spending time ON the business putting business plans together, budgets, finding new opportunities, account management, meeting customers, improving workplace moral.........

              The tips here are excellent but like everything you need to work on them.

              Business Owner
              Date and time
              August 22, 2012, 6:00PM

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