A summer slump is a very uncomfortable place to be. It's when you're feeling bored, unmotivated, maybe even a little anxious about your business and if you're feeling it right now, please know I am right there with you. I have to admit, even though it's not a new phenomenon for me, I was blindsided when June hit.
A summer slump is a very uncomfortable place to be.
It’s when you’re feeling bored, unmotivated, maybe even a little anxious about your business and if you’re feeling it right now, please know I am right there with you.
I have to admit, even though it’s not a new phenomenon for me, I was blindsided when June hit. Suddenly, I felt utterly apathetic about all the operational, non-client-facing pieces of my business. I just didn't want to do it.
Today I’m sharing a few things that I've done to help pull myself out and how you can support yourselves and your clients through the summer slump. Enjoy the episode!
- How the summer slump took me by surprise this year
- Why the changing schedule in the summer threw me off my game
- The importance of rest
- Allowing yourself to slow down and get curious
- Understanding your minimum viable output (MVO)
- Revising your expectations
- Finding things that light you up outside of work
- Getting comfortable asking for what you need
- Coach with Clarity | Episode 117: Making Space for Rest with Jordan Maney
- Coach with Clarity Podcast Facebook Group
- Coach with Clarity Collective Waitlist
- Connect with Me on Instagram
- Connect with Me on TikTok
- Email Me: email@example.com
Now it’s time for you to show the world what it means to be a Coach with Clarity! Screenshot this episode and tag me on Instagram @coachwithclarity and let me know what you’re more excited to explore in future podcast episodes!
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Well, hello, my friend. Welcome to the Coach with Clarity Podcast. My name is Lee Chaix McDonough, I'm your host. And today we are going to tackle a topic that I am intimately familiar with, because I am experiencing it right now. And based on what I've heard from my clients, my students and my members, there is a high likelihood that you are experiencing it, too. That's right. Today, we are talking about what to do when you're experiencing a summer slump. You probably know what I'm talking about when I say “summer slump.” It is when you feel bored, unmotivated, even a little anxious about your business, and it's a very uncomfortable place to be. Now, if you are there right now, please know I am right there with you. And that's why I wanted to record this podcast episode, because I think I need it maybe as much if not more than you do. And if you are fortunate enough not to be experiencing a summer slump right now, then maybe still take a listen, because you may find that your clients are. And there may be some words of wisdom within today's episode that may help you support your clients as they go through their summer slump as well.
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So I have to admit, even though the summer slump is not a new phenomenon for me, I was caught off guard by it this year. I had had some really incredible experiences in April and May, where I got to travel and connect with colleagues and friends. And I was feeling really inspired and motivated. And because of that I was really blindsided when June hit. And all of a sudden, I felt completely apathetic about all of the operational pieces of my business. And I want to clarify that I view my client work as being separate from my day to day business operations. Truly what's kept me going over the last several weeks has been interacting with my clients, with the members of the Coach with Clarity Collective. Anytime I am able to actually coach and have that face to face time with my people, I feel invigorated, I feel inspired. I look forward to that time so much, so that when I see it on my calendar, it feels like a reprieve from the summer doldrums. But as you know, when you run a coaching business, and you are the CEO of your company, there are day to day operational activities that you have to conduct. And those are the things where I felt like I just had no energy, the thought of writing emails, creating content, social media, finances, all of the behind the scenes work that goes into my business. I just felt so bored and tired. And I just didn't want to do it. There were a couple other things at play that I think contributed to this. Number one, I have two teenage boys, and they finished their school year at the end of May/beginning of June. So having them home during the day meant that my schedule was completely disrupted. The way that I normally operate on a day to day basis, I kind of had to throw it out the window because now I had two kids who although they're old enough to be home alone and take care of themselves, they still need their mom for certain things, especially when it comes to driving them to their friend's house or coordinating activities. So my day to day plan got completely thrown out the window once my kids were off school. And because I personally am a creature of habit, not having my go to routines to fall back on, I think on some level threw me for a loop, it got me off track and that opened the door for some of this summer slump energy to enter. So that was one thing, compounded by the fact that I actually like my kids and I wanted to hang out with them. I wanted to do things with them. And so when faced with the decision of do I write an email or do I hang with my kids, I wanted to hang with my kids. So again, having my kids home is a wonderful blessing and it really threw me off my game when it came to my business. So that is definitely something I am taking from my experience this summer and I will try to prepare for it, come next year. The other thing too, at least here in the northern hemisphere – summertime is when we have hot weather. And in North Carolina, whew, my friend it has been unbearably hot. The humidity, it just saps my strength. So whenever it gets really hot outside, I notice that I feel sluggish, I feel tired, I don't spend a lot of time outside, so I'm not exercising. So I know that that definitely contributes to my summer slump, to just feeling unmotivated and like, I don't want to do anything. I can't help but think of the theorem that objects in motion stay in motion, objects at rest stay at rest. Well, this summer slump has pushed me into a rest period, which is not necessarily a bad thing, we all benefit from rest, we need times where we can unplug and check out and have a little distance, a little space from our businesses. So I don't want to suggest that rest is not important. In fact, it is vitally important. And if you haven't listened to my interview with Jordan Maney about the importance of rest, make sure you add that to your podcast playlist right now. It's episode 117. It is such a phenomenal conversation. And we really dive into why rest is so important, especially for coaches and business owners. But what I found was that my rest period devolved into the slump. I found it hard to restart my engine and get going again. So come early July, I really hit bottom. I was feeling not only bored, but also anxious. I wasn't sure anymore, what do I want to do in my business? What are my goals? What am I working towards? I felt really unmoored, and quite frankly, uncertain about my direction moving forward. It's a really uncomfortable place to be. So if you are there now, if you have been there, or if you have clients who are experiencing this, I want to share a few of the things that I've done to help pull myself out of my summer slump.
So the very first thing I did was to just slow down and get curious. So for me getting curious looks like slowing down, and observing from as neutral a place as possible, what I'm thinking, feeling and doing. So I did just that I paused, and I took stock of what I had been experiencing over the last couple of weeks, I looked at my behaviors, I looked at the environmental factors that were influencing my behaviors, I looked at my thoughts and my emotions and how they contributed to my behaviors, I really took a deep dive into what is going on here. Now, the tricky part here is doing that level of reflection without judgment, because it would be so easy for me to say, “You spent the entire day watching old episodes of Ink Master and not emailing your list. What is wrong with you?” And that's not the most compassionate stance that we can take for ourselves. But instead, it was just pulling back and noticing. “Oh, Lee, look, you binge watched episodes of Ink Master,” which yes, for whatever reason, I am obsessed with that show. It just scratches this itch in me that I can't even describe. But I start watching an episode of Ink Master and I get sucked in. And so there was a day last month where I just found myself watching episode after episode and completely procrastinating on writing an email and doing other things for my business. So instead of judging myself harshly, I started looking at the thoughts and the emotions that were at play. And I noticed actually, I was doing a lot of rationalizing. So some of the thoughts I had were, “You know what, it's summertime, people aren't reading their emails, you don't really need to send one anyway. It's the summertime, you're allowed to take a break.” And then the most insidious thought of all, “What you have to say, and what you have to offer to your people doesn't really matter. So why bother?” Now that is the inner critic coming into play. And that's why it is so important to bring a sense of objectivity and non-attachment to this process of paying attention to your thoughts and your emotions and your behaviors. Because it would be so easy for me to take what my inner critic is saying as the God's honest truth, and then to fall down that rabbit hole. But instead, I was simply observing these thoughts from a more neutral position so that I didn't have to buy into it. I was, however, noticing the emotions that came up when I would have those thoughts. Certainly if I had the thought that no one's reading emails anyway, because it's the summer the feeling that emerged was one of apathy. If no one's reading emails, why put all this work in? When I had the thought that “Hey, it's summer you're allowed to take a break,” I had the feeling of relief, like I could take a deep breath and say, “Yeah, it is summertime, maybe I do deserve a break.” And then of course, when my inner critic popped up and started suggesting that maybe what I have to say isn't that important or that nobody cares. That's when the feelings of sadness, anxiety, disappointment, and fear started to emerge. So I was able to look at my behaviors and the thoughts and emotions behind it, and start to understand what was really going on with my summer slump. Once I had a stronger idea of what was motivating, or rather not motivating me, in this case, then I was able to take action. And that's where my next steps come in. So the first step is to get curious, and to really look at your thoughts, your emotions and your behaviors, from a neutral place to see what information you can glean from that.
Once you've done that, or once I did that, my second step was to review my minimum viable output or my MVO. I believe it is critically important that every coach and every business owner understand what their MVO is. What is the minimum amount of work you need to do to keep things afloat? My personal MVO inside Coach with Clarity consists of three elements. Number one, I want to be present for my private coaching clients, whether these are my one on one clients or in the Coach with Clarity mastermind. I want to show up and support them, however that looks. So that's definitely a part of my minimum viable output is showing up for my clients. Number two is showing up for the members of the Coach with Clarity Collective, that may look like conducting the spotlight coaching calls or the q&a calls, it certainly looks like coordinating with guest experts to make sure we have everything we need for those monthly trainings to go off. Basically, I just want to make sure that my members' experience remains unchanged inside the Collective, regardless of how I'm feeling. So that's definitely the second element of my minimum viable output. And then finally, number three is this podcast. Because as I've said, in past episodes, I view you as one of my clients, even if we're not working together, even if you're not in the Collective, even if you are not currently compensating me, I view you as someone I support. And as I mentioned at the top when it comes to working with my clients and my members, that's where I light up. And so creating this podcast helps me feel like I'm still connected with you. And it's vitally important to me that the show gets produced week after week. So that is a part of my minimum viable output, number one, ensuring that my clients have the support they need. Number two, ensuring that my members have the support they need. And number three, making sure my listeners have the support they need. So that happens through my one on one work in my mastermind, through the Collective, and through this podcast. That is my MVO. I know that if I only focus on that, while I am in my slump, things will be okay. I may not see growth, I may not see new members or new clients, but I can maintain the systems I currently have in place.
So the MVO is designed to just make sure things are staying afloat, and that you are keeping things stable until you get to a point where you're feeling ready to add more to your plate. So I've just walked you through what my MVO is. And I encourage you to think about what your MVO is in your business. What are the things you absolutely have to do to maintain? And then you may also want to think about are there things that I can pause? Are there things I can delegate? Are there things that I can take off my plate entirely, at least during this period of time, if not for good?
And that leads me to the third step of how I am navigating through my summer slump. So I've gotten curious, and I've looked at some of the thoughts, emotions, and behaviors at play. I've reviewed my MVO, my minimum viable output. And then number three, I've revised my expectations. Now, if you're a longtime listener of the show, you know that I love a good plan. I spend time at the end of the year, creating an annual plan for myself with what I call big rocks, the big things that I'm going to tackle on a quarterly and then a monthly basis. And then every quarter, I use that annual plan to create a more tactical guide for what I'm going to do over the next three months. Having those plans for my quarter and my year are so helpful and they're not carved in stone. So when I'm going through a period of time where the minimum viable output is the best and the most that I can do, that means I'm going to need to revise some of the things on my plans. And it definitely means I'm going to have to adjust my expectations for how I thought, this month, this quarter, or even this year would go. So for me, revising my expectations looked like pulling up my annual plan, looking at my big rocks, and asking myself, “Is this still something I want to commit to this year? If so, can I change the timeline, so that I'm not forcing myself to do this at a point where I don't have the energy or motivation to do so?” I'll be honest with you, this might be the most difficult step for me, because when I create a plan, and I set goals and deadlines, I really want to stick to them. And when I have to adjust it, on some level, I feel like maybe I've screwed up or I've done something wrong. So this is why getting curious from that compassionate place is so important. Because I can give myself some grace here and say to myself, I'm not a failure, simply because I've changed my mind or I'm pushing something back. In fact, I'm showing up for myself the best way I know how. I'm giving myself space to heal and to grow, and that matters. So that's some of the self talk that I've been doing, as I've revised my expectations and adjusted my calendar.
So as an example, I had set what I now realize was an audacious goal, to completely revise the Certified Clarity Coach training program by the end of June, so that I could resubmit it to the International Coaching Federation, and meet their new accreditation standards. On previous podcast episodes, I've talked about the process of getting my program certified. And now the International Coaching Federation has completely changed their accreditation standards for programs. Now, I think this is a positive change. I really like what they are requiring programs to do moving forward. But the fact is, there is a lot of work that has to go into re-accrediting my program. And initially, I thought I would be able to get that done in a single quarter. Now I'm realizing the work required coupled with how I'm feeling right now means my initial timeline was way off base. So I had to go back and change my calendar and change my goals and give myself some more flexibility, some more breathing space. That is an example of a big rock, a major rock actually on my annual plan that I still want on my plan, but I need to be flexible with the timing. And so I had to shift it so that maybe I would be going into Q3 and even Q4, still working on re-accrediting my program and that is okay. So from there, now that I have gotten curious, I've reviewed my MBO, and I've revised my expectations. When it comes to work, I'm doing what has to be done. And then I'm doing some things outside of work to help me navigate my way through this slump.
So that brings me to my fourth suggestion, which is to do something that is non business related, that lights you up. Now, of course, that is going to look different for every person. In my case, I knew that looked like developing a new creative outlet for my energy. So much of what I've been working on and creating over the last several years has been business focused. And I really haven't fostered ways in my life to be creative, that don't have something to do with my business. So on a gut level, I knew that one thing I could do for myself was to find different ways of creative expression that had nothing to do with my business. And as I mentioned on a previous episode, that’s one of the reasons why I enrolled in a playwriting class. I haven't written a play in 22 years. It was college, I loved it, and then I just put it aside. And I decided, you know what, maybe this is one way that I can reignite that creative spark and do something that's just for me. Now, this whole playwriting class has been quite an experience. And I will be sharing that with you in a future episode, because it's taught me a lot about how to manage the inner critic, and what to do when things don't go as well as you planned. So stick around for that episode, it'll be coming out in a few weeks. Even with that being said, though, I have to say that having something to focus on outside of my business has helped me re-engage my creativity and feel more motivated. So that would be my suggestion to you or to your clients as well. If they're experiencing a business centered summer slump, it might be helpful to find a non-business related outlet for their creativity. So that's my fourth recommendation is to do something non-business related.
My fifth recommendation is to make use of your support systems. Initially, when I started experiencing my summer slump, I really kept it to myself, I didn't really talk about it, I figured, you know, I'll get through it, it'll be fine. I really tried to just grit my teeth and bear it on my own. And pretty quickly, I realized that that was not serving me. And that it would be okay for me to talk about this with some of my colleagues. And in fact, maybe it would even be helpful. And it was, when my colleagues would ask me, “Hey, how are things going? How are you feeling?” I decided I was going to answer them honestly. And so I was able to say, “You know what, I'm in a bit of a slump right now. I'm feeling a little apathetic, a little uncertain, a lot anxious about how things are going in my business. And I'm just in that period in that space where I'm trying to navigate in.” And to say that out loud, actually was really freeing. I didn't feel like I had to shoulder it on my own. And the response that I received from my colleagues was so supportive and understanding many of them had been through that themselves. Some of them were going through it right then and there, too. And so there is a peace that comes from knowing that you are not in this alone. Now I did have to get over my fear of being a burden to others, or making the conversation all about me, it is so much easier for me to engage with others, when I'm able to center them. To center their needs, their goals, it's part of the reason why I became a coach. So to request that from others, particularly from my friends and my colleagues, makes me feel vulnerable, makes me feel demanding. And it causes me to question, “Is this okay? Is it safe for me to ask?” And the answer that I've come to is that in a strong healthy relationship, whether it is an intimate relationship, a romantic relationship, a collegial relationship, or with your friends – if that relationship is healthy, then yes, it is safe to ask for what you need, and to expect mutual support and care is appropriate. So while I am always happy to be present for my friends who are going through a tough time, to be their support, to be their sounding board, it is also acceptable for me to ask for and expect the same. So that's what I've had to do. Over the last couple of weeks, I've really leaned on my friends and my colleagues, as I've been experiencing this discomfort of feeling stuck, of feeling like I don't have a direction. And also feeling like I don't know how long this is going to last. So my friends and colleagues, you know who you are, I am so grateful for you, you have really helped me navigate these last few weeks and I couldn't do this without you, so many thanks to them. And again, just a reminder that you are also deserving of that same level of support from your friends and colleagues as well. So please, if you are experiencing a summer slump, lean on the people who love you and support you. That has been critical to my process of working through this, and I suspect it will be for you as well.
So, so far, I've shared five recommendations with you. Number one is to get curious and to just notice, kind of what's going on and your responses to it. That can help inform your decisions moving forward, including the second step, which is to review your minimum viable output, and really decide what are the absolute must do's in my business to maintain where I am. Number three is to then revise any expectations you had for the next month, quarter, even year. Recommendation number four is to find a non-business outlet for your creativity, whatever that might look like for you. And then finally, recommendation number five is to rely on your support system, your friends, your family, your colleagues who love you and want to be there for you. It is okay to express what you need and to ask for their support.
All of that leads into my very final recommendation, which is to remember that this too shall pass. To quote Rilke, “No feeling is final.” So even though you may be feeling anxious, bored, uncertain, like you want to burn your business down, just remember these feelings are transient, they come and they go, and they may come back and then they may leave again. But none of this has to be permanent, you can and you will find your way through this. And of course, having someone you trust, like a coach can be a vital part of your process. So if you are looking for support and navigating your own slump, and you feel like you and I might be a good fit, please reach out and we can explore what it might look like to work together, whether as a single session, or longer term, to help you rekindle your spark and get moving again. And with that, I think it's time for this week's Clarity in Action moment.
All right, my friends, I'm doing something a little different this week for the Clarity in Action moment. Usually I issue you a challenge, or I invite you to reflect on a set of questions. But if you are experiencing a summer slump right now, the last thing you need from me is something else to do. So instead for this week's Clarity in Action moment, I'm just going to invite you to pause. Now, if you are driving right now, or you are doing something that requires your full attention, maybe just hit pause and come back to this when you have a break. But if you are at a point where you can take a pause, I invite you to just slow down for a moment. You can even close your eyes if you like. And just notice your breath as you breathe in and breathe out. This is all you have to do in this moment. Simply taking a breath is enough. And you are enough. However you're feeling in this moment. Whatever thoughts you may be having, those thoughts and feelings are transient, they will come and they will go. So even if you are having thoughts that you don't want, even if you are experiencing feelings that are uncomfortable, they will pass and so too, will this summer slump. This is not permanent. And you have everything you need to navigate your way through this. When the time is right. I believe in you, and I'm here for you. So just go ahead and take another breath, in and out. And remember that all you have to do right now is simply breathe. The rest will happen in due time. But right now, all you have to do is breathe and be present for yourself. That is your Clarity in Action moment for this week, is to just breathe and be. And I would encourage you as the day, as the week, as the month continues – if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, bored, apathetic, frustrated, frightened, unsure of where you're headed, pause, take a breath, take a beat and remind yourself that this too shall pass. You will not be in this slump forever. You have everything you need to navigate your way through it and you will when the time is right. Feel free to replay this or remind yourself of this as often as you need to. And again, if there's anything that I can do to support you in this process, don't hesitate to reach out. You can find me over on TikTok and on Instagram @CoachWithClarity, feel free to send me a private message. You can also email me firstname.lastname@example.org is the best way to connect and let me know how I can support you.
Well my friends I just completed something on my personal minimum viable output list. I have recorded this episode for you. I hope you find it helpful. If anything, I hope it helps you feel a little less alone. I will be back in your podcast feed next week with a super exciting episode. I have a very, very special guest that I am honored to bring on the show. You are not going to want to miss this interview. So make sure if you are not already subscribed to the Coach with Clarity Podcast, go ahead and do so now. Depending on the podcast player you use, there should be a button that says subscribe or follow or maybe it's just a plus sign. Go ahead and click that and then you will receive new episodes of the Coach with Clarity Podcast in your feed the moment they are released. And again you are not gonna want to miss next week's episode so be sure to follow now. And until then, my name is Lee Chaix McDonough reminding you to get out there and show the world what it means to be a Coach with Clarity.