Ten things I learned from my first “slump”​

Cheryl Hudgins Williams - Ten things I learned from my first "slump"​

Many people in my circle of extended family and friends had a difficult 2018 and start to 2019. Compared to their trials, particularly losses of loved ones, I was blessed. Even NOT compared to them or anyone else, I am blessed! Yet a wilderness I had been warned about from every one of my entrepreneurial friends, my first business slump, left me feeling “some kind of way.” Fearful, doubting my decision, doubting the direction I thought I’d heard from God that it was finally time to “hang out my shingle.” And, second guessing decisions I’d made along the way. And, wondering when, how and if my situation would change, and if it didn’t, what that would mean for me and my family.

I’d also been warned that slumps happen again and again, and they don’t necessarily get any easier. So as much for myself as for anyone else, I’m documenting (in no particular order) what got me through, both practically and spiritually.

1.      Use the time to get other stuff done. For your business – catch up on administrative tasks (my slump conveniently fell during tax season) — and personally. Spend time with family and friends, who can also provide (and perhaps can benefit from) support.

2.      Volunteer – to make a difference, and also to stay busy, visible and connected.

3.      Ask for help. Identify what you need, whether it’s someone to vent to, or to ask for leads. This may be nontraditional advice, but when people asked me “how’s business” I answered honestly “I’m in my first slump and it’s no fun!” Several people offered assistance in response, and I gained one new client, several excellent referrals, a valuable reference and lots of prayers!

4.      Have Faith: I listened TO the Word, expanding my devotional practice, which more often than not, spoke to my specific circumstances that day. And I listened FOR the Word, and I can speak to very specific sermons that showed up and provided me just the support and direction I needed at exactly the right time.

5.      Count your blessings! The gloomy weather last fall and winter didn’t help my mood, so while I’m not particularly outdoorsy, one rare spring-like day in winter I walked around my community, stopped and sat in the sun in a new gazebo built at the end of a cul-de-sac, and prayed, personally and intentionally, for help. Into my head popped a childhood song – “Count your blessings, name them one by one, count your many blessings see what God has done.” That little song raised my spirits in a way that I wouldn’t have thought possible that minute and continues to pop into my head and keep me going at times that I don’t even realize I need it.

6.      Plan for what you’ll do differently, in between and next time. A big part of that for me was evaluating my relationship with money, both practically as an entrepreneur vs. as an employee, as well as on a more emotional level.

7.      Gain clarity about your priorities. My values are Faith, Family, Freedom and Fun. Was I living out these values in how I approached my life and my business? What could I do to improve?

8.      “Take care of you” (a favorite quote from the movie Pretty Woman). Exercise, read, catch up on free professional development… and try not to feel guilty about finding ways to enjoy the time. Soon enough, you’ll be (too) busy again!

9.      Find and appreciate special moments – I was blessed that two beautiful new grand-nieces joined our family and looking at a picture of me holding one of them never fails to bring me joy.

10.  It’s okay to feel bad. Yes, there’s always someone worse off, but that doesn’t mean that your pain and challenges are any less real.

Finally, don’t give up. There is more and more research indicating that perseverance, grit, “stick-to-it-tiveness” is ultimately what makes the difference between success and failure. If you don’t believe it, ask Tiger Woods (a reminder that I originally wrote this last spring after he won the Masters).

I hope this is helpful (I know it helped me!) and I’d love to hear from any of you what got you through your slump(s)!

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