Getting Through The Slump

A number of times I have heard an anecdote about the advice that Seinfeld gave to an aspiring comic. Seinfeld told the newcomer that all he had to do was write one joke a day. Every day that the comic wrote a joke, he could put an X on a calendar. After a few weeks, the chain of x’s would grow so long that he wouldn’t dare to skip a day of writing a joke because the new comic would break the chain.

When you are in a slump, you want to have a progressive chain of x’s to keep you going. In the last week, it has been difficult for me to find the motivation to write this blog. What kept me posting was the chain of x’s. I didn’t want to break the continuous string that I had going.

Sometimes you wonder if you are getting better at something. It can be discouraging when you don’t see improvement or change in some positive way. But you have to keep ongoing. By continuing to move forward and produce something, even when you don’t feel like it, you are adding to your mountain of ‘tries.’ The more time you try something, the more experience you have. And, even if it isn’t intuitive, if you keep on producing new things, you will actually produce higher quality results. You can see the better results in the story about the pottery students who were asked to produce greater quantities, and in turn, also produced a higher quality. In another example, the marshmallow challenge required kindergartners, business students, and others, to build towers with spaghetti and marshmallows. The children who jumped right in were more effective at creating a tall tower than the business students who planned everything first.

To get yourself out of a slump, keep stepping forward.

First, don’t let yourself break the chain of success that you have built.

Second, promise yourself that you will only do 5 minutes of the work right now. Usually, once you get started, you’ll be ready to work to you are finished.

Third, keep throwing your tries against the wall. The more tries you make, the more you learn, and the higher the quality of your results.