From Slump to Supercharged by Steve Pavlina, CEO, Dexterity Software A slump. A rut. Downtime. Low productivity.

Writer's block. Regardless of what you prefer to call it, we all experience these low periods where our energy wanes and our motivation weakens. We look at the work before us and think, "Why bother? What's the point?" And yet it still nags at us. We feel like we should be motivated because of all the great benefits we'll receive when our work is done, and yet, something just isn't right. We can't get moving. We procrastinate. Days, weeks, and perhaps even months go by, and we seem to accomplish very little. We try every strategy we can think of to motivate ourselves, but the end result is simply more frustration. We can visualize the sort of high productivity days we'd like to experience regularly, but to even churn out one of those days seems nearly impossible. We begin wondering if maybe we've set our sights too high, that perhaps we aren't as gifted as we once thought, that maybe we'll just have to settle for average results in life. This feeling may be best described as that of being blocked, as if there's some external force acting against our best efforts at building sustainable forward momentum. I'm sure you can relate to having at least one episode in your life you might describe as a motivational slump. Perhaps you can even relate to it intimately because you find yourself experiencing one right now. But is there a solution? Or are you utterly doomed? No, you aren't doomed. Most likely the reason you're having so much difficulty is that the solution is not at all what you would expect. Traditional solutions for overcoming procrastination like writing down your goals, making promises to others, setting deadlines, and taking time off can be effective for minor bouts of laziness, but they may not be sufficient to break out of a prolonged slump. You might get a temporary boost for a day or two, but soon your productivity and motivation are right back down the toilet again. So how do you break out of a slump? First, let's get a clear understanding of what a slump really is. There are many levels on which we can define the problem. Are you suffering from too much negativity? Are you having a spiritual crisis? Do you feel like you just don't have the energy to do what you want to do? Most likely you've been experiencing a combination of these feelings. Physically, you may feel like you just can't get going, feeling more fatigued than when you were at your best. Emotionally, you may experience negative emotions more often than you'd like, especially disappointment with yourself. And spiritually, you may be wondering if you're really on the right path and that maybe you really should be doing something else… that perhaps all the roadblocks you're running into are a sign that you're off course. If you've been in a slump for several months or longer, you may very well be cycling through these different impressions, one week trying to break the pattern from a spiritual perspective and another week focusing on a more physical-emotional strategy. As the slump continues, you may even find that your relationship with yourself begins to suffer. Whenever you consider taking a break, you question whether it's really necessary

like watching TV or web surfing a lot more than you used to. but it's something that's very important to you. that would work. No fear of inadequacy. "Yeah. No fear of divorce. No fear of going broke. you need to be in a mental state where you can think about them deeply enough without getting defensive or distracted. and to answer them properly. To solve it we're going to have to give it the respect it deserves and really understand what's going on beneath the surface. and every day that goes by feels like another day wasted. You know the costs. It could be something totally unrelated. Could you suffer no fear and still experience a slump? . It's going to require you to do something that you really don't want to do. but it's not going to be easy.or whether some part of you is merely attempting to procrastinate. This is a tough problem to solve. But deep down you already knew that. Why are you in a slump? You're in a slump because you're afraid. but you can't bring yourself to end it? Are you afraid you'll never find your soulmate and will always be alone? Are you afraid that your social skills are too weak to be able to attract the kinds of friends you yearn to have in your life? These are tough questions. but the low-level nagging fear would be permanently absent. It may not even be the subject of your work. I could rattle off a cute little laundry list of bullet points for you to try. A slump is a serious problem. What are you really afraid of? What worries you most about your life? Please feel free to stop reading and jot down anything that comes to mind before continuing. No fear of public speaking. It may be one of the toughest you've faced. You're greatly underperforming your potential. and they might boost your motivation for a little while and leave you thinking. didn't you? So let's dive right into the heart of the problem. Now just take a moment to think about how your life would be different if you experienced absolutely no fear at all. You'd still maintain your biological fight-or-flight response for truly dangerous situations." but in the long run we both know this approach would be doomed to failure. I'm not going to baby you. So what is it that you fear in your life? Do you think you may be on the wrong career path. You may have already thrown a tremendous amount of resources at it and still have little to show for your efforts. but you don't think you can make a permanent change? Are you afraid of what others might think if you express more of the real you? Are you afraid your marriage/relationship was a mistake. No fear of tedium. No fear of ridicule. No fear of taking risks. Be as honest with yourself as possible. Even if you think that's impossible. Perhaps you've developed some rituals to distract yourself from the reality of your situation. but you're afraid to take the leap into the unknown and do what you really feel you should be doing? Are you afraid you'll never get out of debt or make the kind of money you'd like to be making? Are you afraid the goals you most want to achieve are beyond you? Are you seriously overweight. This is a problem that can be overcome. No fear of switching careers. just use your imagination and ponder it anyway. And you're expending a lot of energy avoiding what you fear.

it's only going to lead to more pain. no matter what.how do you feel? At the edge of your consciousness. . and which cannot truly be harmed by any outside force. you can solve lots of physics problems (assuming you stay well below the speed of light). shape. On some level you're thinking that if you continue along your intended path. you may notice certain thoughts going through your head. But if you humor me a bit and buy into this paradigm.when you feel you are most deeply suffering the symptoms of your slump . you may find it excruciatingly difficult to concentrate effectively and to discipline yourself to complete projects. So how do we overcome fear? The answer you've probably heard before is that you have to face your fear… that it will only grow stronger if you try to avoid it. Here's another way of phrasing this. If you fear that your career may be wrong for you. discipline. you may lose all motivation to excel in your career or to maintain a healthy physique. your health. but it overlooks the vital step of what must first happen in your thoughts in order to grant you the ability to face your fear in the first place. You might think of this as your inner self. all your inner resources will grind to a screeching halt. but if you accept it as true anyway. or even just your subconscious mind. or form. Why not? Because fear is what paralyzes you from taking action. If you feel deep down that your life is on the wrong path. That's partly true. Fear in one area of your life can sap the motivation. it will likely help you break out of your slump. Again. You feel like the road ahead is not the path you're supposed to be taking. When you procrastinate . including your own physical death.it really doesn't matter what you call it. you couldn't. creativity. you can never overcome fear.an answer. This fear ends up paralyzing you. On the surface this may seem too simplistic . you might think of this as your higher self. For example. whether it be in your career. The real first step in overcoming fear is to develop the belief deep down that there is a part of you that cannot be harmed in any way. it's merely one of many possible models of reality. the more you allow it to fester. which actually turns out to be an inaccurate model of reality. and enthusiasm from all areas of your life. It's like Isaac Newton's F=ma law. But take a moment to think about it. You're afraid to press on.too easy . if you worry that you married the wrong person.No. etc. even personal ones. Now this next part is where things will get a bit strange. and it can spill over into every area of your life. your relationship. Deep down do you honestly believe that you are truly safe here in this universe? Or do you believe that it's actually possible for you to suffer some form of irreparable harm? I'm not talking about being physically invulnerable here in the third-dimensional world in which we live. your soul. your spirit . What I'm about to say is not something that's objectively true. your soul. That's the insidious nature of fear. the more it spreads. Without a belief in your own fundamental safety. I'm referring to a deeper form of invulnerability… a sense that there is some core part of you that will always exist. But this is the fundamental belief that allows you to permanently overcome any fear you may encounter in life. your spirit.

If you believe that embarrassing yourself when you try to speak in public. procrastination and avoidance are the most logical choices of action (or inaction) in certain situations. it may be safest to stay put. outright avoidance may indeed be the optimal strategy. that's exactly right. then it actually does make logical sense to hesitate before taking action. If there are real dangers out there. then it is probably wisest to play it safe and not risk it. If you think in terms of weighing potential pleasure vs. then you will never feel quite secure enough in anything you do. Hopefully this seems logical. then you're naturally going to exhibit some avoidance behavior towards them. That's just being smart. then your strategy of procrastination is the correct one. things like starting a new business or going on a diet will often have a negative expected value. It may sound a bit new-agey the way I've presented it so far. and that if you believe your actions can affect the degree of harm you suffer. financial destitution. So it's only logical to maintain the status quo. so if you find yourself in this situation now. rejection. If you view humiliation. Your safety is not guaranteed. failure. If deep down you harbor the fear that some kind of reaction to what you do in the third dimension can actually hurt you at a fundamental level. embarrassment. To ignore such dangers would just be reckless and foolish. If you are surrounded by real dangers. potential pain. given the risks. Your choices will determine how much real harm you suffer. And if the potential dangers are great enough. but you can reach the same conclusions with nothing more than simple logic. So what's the problem then? Well. For example. then you'll also have to accept problems like procrastination and motivational slumps as a natural consequence of those beliefs. this is often the best option. Given the above. if you're content with suffering from bouts of . then you will always experience fear. If there are indeed real dangers ahead. or failure as entities that are truly harmful. Here's the logical progression in its simplest form. Does this make sense? Let's try to make this even more clear just to be sure you follow this line of reasoning. Remaining in a slump may be the best course of action if most of your intended actions have a high degree of risk that you'll suffer some form of real pain (rejection.Now what the heck does this have to do with you having trouble getting going in the morning because you feel unmotivated? Am I saying that the reason you feel unmotivated is that you don't feel you're totally safe here in this universe? Yes. All I'm really saying is that if you buy into the belief that there are real dangers in the world that can actually harm you. There's really no getting around it. you can at least feel grateful that your brain is doing a good job of keeping you safe from harm. if starting a new business could potentially lead to a failure that really does hurt you. etc). or starting a new business and going bankrupt. or trying to start a new relationship and failing at it can actually hurt the real you. Let's assume you hold the belief that there exist real dangers in the world that can truly harm you on a fundamental level. How safe you are is at least partially dependent on your actions. You believe that a setback like losing all your money is real and that it could actually hurt you in some manner.

Imagine that your life is like a computer role-playing game. then you'll probably achieve some amazing results in this area. You cannot truly be harmed. Whoa! That's nuts. back to our story…. So if you do begin fiddling with your beliefs. For example.it was your belief about what the consequences of your actions would be. embarrassment.procrastination and low energy. Your brain will do a pretty good job of combining new beliefs with common sense. amass gold. and so on. you do have to be careful. Failure. Think of it like this. But on the other hand. And what if at the end of the 10 days I tell you I was just kidding about the $1 million. Yet it still allowed you to achieve superior results. it is the belief that you are fundamentally safe here. Your character can take damage and run into challenging situations. For example. This part of you is immortal and invulnerable. Ok. You can fight monsters. however. There's a concept called "lies of success" that you may have encountered elsewhere. rejection. not grounded in reality. and I'll do my best to explain the logic here. what if you were so convinced about receiving the $1 million that you went into debt to buy more organizational stuff. do think carefully about what new programs you might be installing in your brain. There is nothing in this universe that can truly hurt you. if you want to leap to a much higher level of performance and maintain it. and you actually believe me. gain experience. Nothing that happens in the game world can affect the real you. It makes no difference how you play the game . believing that the big cash payment would ultimately bail you out? Ouch. but if you believe it anyway. Fortunately. A lie of success is something that's probably not objectively true. was a false one. But what if you forget that you're playing a game and you begin to identify with your . Your safety is absolutely guaranteed. not necessarily. Just humor me for a moment. then you have to go a different route. Newton's F=ma law is one example I previously mentioned. then there's really no problem at all. but you the player are immune to all of that because fundamentally you're an observer of the game. Now when you're considering integrating a lie of success into your belief system. your non-physical mind. So what belief actually has the power to eradicate procrastination from your life? Simply put. Your belief. you might realize that it wasn't the $1 million that made you an organizational superstar . your spirit. and it's totally independent of your actions. in most situations you have nothing to worry about. That's a lie of success. you can achieve far greater results than if you don't. if I'm somehow able to convince you that I'll pay you $1 million if you can be extremely well organized for the next 10 days. your higher self. After you finishing choking me. Your physical body is the character you play. I mean that there is a part of you (your soul. It can only affect your character. as logical as they may seem. When I say that you are fundamentally safe here. even death nothing can touch it. or you could actually achieve worse results. And this requires that you actually discard these beliefs. or whatever you prefer to call it) that cannot be harmed by anything you experience on earth.the real you can never truly be harmed by anything that happens in the game world. physical pain. You just learn to live with it. right? Well.

You'll be less afraid of starting your own business. When you adopt this kind of belief system and view your life along these lines . You can speak in front of an audience with no fear.this belief doesn't suddenly make you reckless. since you know that the real you is immune to embarrassment. you focus on opportunities and the chance to enjoy new experiences. this isn't the kind of belief system that will turn you into a reckless idiot. procrastination and avoidance are totally unnecessary. But the difference is that you no longer experience any fear. But you are absolutely safe here. They've forgotten that they are not their character. Because there is nothing to fear. You'll still take your life seriously. Being fearless doesn't mean that you'll become a jerk and abandon all your morals. You still activate your fight-or-flight response when you run into a situation that could damage your character.and I mean really believe it just as you believe the earth orbits the sun . since money isn't real anyway. Danger! But let's consider the opposite belief system. What being fearless will do for you is to make you less attached to outcomes and more free to explore. Again. You're free to take action without fear that you will suffer any real harm for it. Even when you're playing an RPG on the computer. They see all the problems of the world as very real and very dangerous. this is how most people think about their lives here on earth. Your safety is guaranteed and is independent of your actions. you still probably take good care of your character and adhere to the rules of the game world as you understand them. etc. it doesn't really hurt you. You are not safe here. but you'll begin living without fear. You'll be more . You can go broke and not worry about it. or would you be too afraid of getting hurt? If you think about it.your results in life become vastly improved. since if the venture fails. Instead of worrying about potential dangers. You feel empowered to jump into any new project without hesitation.) is immune to any kind of harm. there is nothing to avoid. You are here to learn and to grow and to interact with the other characters in a positive way.character? What if you start to believe that what happens in the game world is real and that you could truly suffer serious harm based on your actions? How will that affect your play? Would you boldly run off to fight monsters. but you always know in the back of your mind that the real you is permanently safe. So here's the progression of logic for this new belief system: Let's assume you hold the belief that there are no dangers in the world that can truly harm you on a fundamental level because the real you (your spirit. Given the above. And this creates a low-level fear that never goes away. soul. You still value your character's life . What if you believed that your life was akin to controlling a character in a very realistic RPG? But this is a game with purpose. just as you would if you were controlling a character in an RPG. The real you remains outside the game world and cannot be harmed.

e. If you're a very logical. Sometimes you'll have a lot of money. Chances are good that if you're this type of person. Take some time to reconnect with this part of . you're fundamentally a mind with a body. Timeless Mind by Deepak Chopra. and your physical brain gives rise to your mind and your thoughts. That is to say.interested in the experience of quitting your job and starting a new business. the more likely you are to attract it into your life. you're in for a shock that will likely turn your belief system upside down and bring you closer to the empowering beliefs discussed above. the physical evidence that we know today just doesn't support it. and/or skeptical person. You may currently hold the belief that thought is the epiphenomenon of matter. Infinite Mind by Valerie Hunt. instead of worrying about how things will turn out and stressing over what you can't control. If you're never studied these fields in any depth. such as through meditation or reading spiritual texts that resonate with you. Real life can be the same way when you learn to live without fear. Without fear life takes on an almost magical quality. Force by David R.your mind is probably immortal and will continue to exist after your physical body goes kaput. Power vs. Isn't it funny how it seems so easy to amass huge sums of gold in an RPG even though you still have to do a lot of "work" to earn it. when you experience no fear and lose your attachment to outcomes. sometimes you'll have none. On the other hand. your mind is merely a consequence of the inner workings of your physical brain. What the evidence suggests is that it's far more likely that you are fundamentally a mental or spiritual being (i. This might include getting into deeper touch with your spiritual beliefs. Hawkins. If you want to read up on this. When you expose yourself to ideas like these. As it turns out. a non-physical being of thought and energy). for instance. the less attached you are to money. Money is just a resource you can use to enhance your experience of life. depending on where the rest of your beliefs lie. Have you ever felt that your character performed better in a role-playing game that you did in your real life? Fear is what makes the difference. scientific. and Finite and Infinite Games by James Carse. and your physical body and brain are the epiphenomena of your thoughts. you are fundamentally a physical being in a physical universe. Even though this belief probably seems logical based on what your physical senses tell you. And what's even more interesting . You'll spend more time living in the present instead of the past or future. You lighten up and don't worry so much about things like making money because in the long run you know they aren't real anyway. some eye opening books include Ageless Body. So instead of being a body with a mind. As odd as it may sound. then you might want to read up on mind-body research and quantum physics. much better. you'll probably be forced to conclude that the universe is a far stranger place than you ever previously considered. and you get the kinds of results that you never could achieve with your fear-based beliefs. So how do you adopt the belief that you're fundamentally safe here if you don't already believe it? There are different ways to go about this. Everyday seems like a wonderful adventure. you end up performing much. then deep down you already believe that there's a core part of you that's immortal and invulnerable. if you think of yourself as a more intuitive/spiritual type of person. then you might find it easier to go a different route towards this new belief system.

Instead of fearing that you can't lose weight. you fall in love with living a moral and empowering life. One more point before we go… In the absence of fear. Without fear you'll find that you're able to express more of the real you. And your results will likely be more a matter of degree than of essence. And extraordinary results will follow. you'll always lack any provable certainty about the nature of life.this is another disempowering belief that you're best off releasing. and you'll find that stress virtually vanishes from your daily existence. instead you'll see it as a place for you to give of your pre-existing happiness. Instead of thinking you need certain outcomes in order to be happy. Instead of fearing failure. Now it's possible you may have been conditioned by your upbringing to believe in some sort of eternal damnation/punishment if you don't live up to a particular set of external standards . Wayne Dyer . releasing fear is like a path along a continuum. instead you'll get in shape because it just feels like a natural expression of the health and happiness you already feel. Remember the RPG analogy you'll be enjoying the game of life so much that you'll accomplish and experience more than you ever could have with a fear-based belief system. So all the "projects" in your life will assume new roles. You probably won't possess the proof you desire until you actually die. Your journey to letting go of fear will undoubtedly be a personal one. Instead of fearing divorce. So ultimately then this comes down to a matter of choice. Your whole mentality will shift from a focus on getting to a focus on giving. you'll find that you do things to express your innate happiness. The more strongly you hold a connection to the part of you that's fundamentally safe. Instead of fearing eternal damnation. and the less you'll suffer from motivational slumps. you'll fall in love with the possibility of a new relationship or the renewal of an old one. As long as you're still in the game of life.yourself at least once a day. a great book to read is Care of the Soul by Thomas Moore. Remember who you really are. You won't see your marriage as something that's supposed to make you happy. the more you'll enjoy the experience of life. you'll end up falling in love with challenge. You won't see getting your body in shape as a chore. Instead of fearing financial destitution. To reach the point where you truly live without fear is a remarkable realization. .I can't recommend it highly enough. If you need help letting go of this belief. you'll just be pervasively happy by default. Instead of doing stuff to be happy. You can remain skeptical and doubtful and accept the consequences of living with fear. You won't see your business or your job as something you have to do to make a living. and you're likely to find that you live a far more moral life without such fear or implied threats. Or you can adopt the belief in your fundamental safety and live a life without fear. you'll fall in love with risk-taking and enjoying new experiences. Are you really just a body with a mind? Or are you much more than that? A great book to read on this subject is There's a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem by Dr. you'll fall in love with healthy food and exercise. instead you'll see it as an outlet for your natural creativity. you'll find that what fills the void is love.

Steve Pavlina is the CEO and founder of Dexterity Software and writes and speaks on software and computer gaming industry topics regularly. you are free to release them at any time. This article is Copyright © 2004 by Steve Pavlina. Deep down I suspect there's a part of you that already knows this to be true. you'll begin living the life you were really meant to live. one where you can give the absolute best of yourself to the world with no fear of harmful consequences. and the dangers are only in your mind.You are safe here. . When you truly come to believe this. and you'll find that all other fears vanish as well. Let go of the fundamental fear of living in an unsafe universe. Then you can finally begin living at the level that you intuitively feel is within your grasp.