Eight tips to break a mid-year slump

August 20th, 2012

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.

Tony Featherstone is a specialist writer on small companies and entrepreneurs.

– FFX Aus

Eight tips to break a mid-year slump

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