Well, it’s March. The joys of the holiday season have worn off. It’s cold enough that you need a heavy jacket, but not cold enough that we could get another perfect, beautiful, snow day. Perhaps classes, work, or an internship have started to feel like less of an opportunity and more of an obligation. Maybe you’ve hit some sort of wall. If you find yourself counting down every waking minute until Spring break (join the club, I am the president), then try these seven tips to push through the mid-semester slump.
- Acknowledge & Accept
The first step in getting out of a slump is arguably the most challenging. It requires genuine honesty with an unforgiving critic… yourself. Have you accomplished the goals you have set for yourself? If the answer is no, recognize that you are unhappy with where you are and possibly the work that you’ve been doing. Immediately after, accept and peace with it, then move on. Nobody is perfect, but more importantly, you cannot make self-improvements if you are stagnant, dwelling on one failure or disappointment.
- Re-evaluate Goals
Maybe you didn’t achieve the goals you set for yourself a month, six months, even a year ago. Ask yourself why that is. Did you not put in enough effort? Were the methods you used ineffective? An even bigger question is did you not achieve the goal(s) because your priorities have changed? Individuals are constantly evolving so it’s perfectly normal to want different things than you did in the past. Now is a good time to determine whether or not a goal wasn’t accomplished for one of the aforementioned reasons, or because it became unimportant in the context of your current life.
- Identify your Mindset
It is important to take a moment to mentally check-in with yourself. Are you generally happy? Do you wake up with a positive attitude? Are you going through day-to-day motions without purpose or tenacity?
- Find Inspiration
Look for people who inspire you. Find someone who has accomplished what you aim to achieve or maybe just has a characteristic that you admire. If you can, ask them about the steps they took to get to where they are, and if appropriate, ask about any mistakes they potentially made. Many times failures are greater teaching points than achievements.
- Create an Action Plan
Finding a starting point can be both challenging and overwhelming. Begin by setting concrete, small and *realistic* goals for yourself that have strict deadlines. Maybe your goal is to run a marathon. That’s awesome! (I’ve never felt the need to do that). Decide to run 3 miles, four days that week. Moreover, plan exactly which days you’re going to run those miles and when. Achieve these small goals and then build on them because life is a marathon, not a sprint (pun intended).
- Shock your System
Change up your routine. If you work out at night, work out first thing in the morning for a week. If you’re a social media fiend, delete the apps off of your phone for 10 days. Routines can be comforting and beneficial, but if you are in a slump, a drastic and short-lived tweak to your routine can be revitalizing.
- Practice Gratitude
In my opinion, this is the most useful tool for overcoming any obstacle, even though I am equally guilty of making it an afterthought. No matter what is happening in our lives, we all have at least one thing to be grateful for. Identify what that is for you and hone in on that energy. Gratitude gives us a new perspective, allows us to celebrate the present, and studies even link it to greater physical, mental, and social health.
Mid-semester slumps can leave you feeling uncertain and doubtful about your life and its direction. Make a conscious decision to reframe the picture. Reflect back on the decisions you’ve made and instead of feeling regretful or like a failure, think about those choices as learning opportunities. Making mistakes is beneficial. Mistakes force you to learn, try new things, and build character and resilience alike. So, trek forward and finish the semester strong. You CAN do it.