How to Bust Through a Plateau and Overcome a Career Slump

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darkside of being a freelancer

I would like to say that everything in my freelance business is going great, my blog is blowing up and I’m having the time of my life as a blogger.

But the truth is, I’ve been struggling — a lot. And I’m not talking about one of those “wake up tomorrow morning and everything is better” type of slumps.

I’ve been stuck in this plateau for about a month.

I still come up with some great ideas, inspired blog posts and I’m still giving my best work to my freelance clients. But my creative spark has diminished and I feel extremely discouraged with my professional life (which is odd, because normally my professional life is awesome and my personal life is a wreck).

I have all these awesome ideas, projects and things I want to do, but there aren’t enough hours in the day to get them all done. I feel like I’m having a blogging identity crisis.

For the first time in my career, I’m not inspired or excited about my work. I’m uncertain, scared and a little worried about what the future holds.

So I’m doing the only thing I know — I’m taking life head on and giving myself a much-needed kick in the butt.

Do something you’ve never done before

If you want new results, then you’re going to have to do something new to get them. And of course that involves moving outside your comfort zone. If you’re anything like me, sitting in your comfort zone is probably what brought on this funk in the first place.

Now is the time to do something different, something you’ve never done before. Start a new not work-related project, get away for the weekend, read an a book that will rock your world (I recommend one of these).

Start a workout regimen

It’s been proven that you can exercise your way to a higher income. People who work out consistently, earn more money and are more productive then people who don’t. Regular exercise can yield a 6–9% increase in earnings and wage income.

I admit that I’ve been slacking in the work out area. Over the summer I slacked off, and focused more on my business endeavors instead of my health. I know this is a major contributing factor to why I haven’t been motivated or inspired lately.

Creating a work out regime will lead to having more energy and produces more endorphins, both of which will give you the extra boost you need to get over any type of career slump.

Connect with someone who inspires you

I want to be one of those women who are kicking butt in the career world, who have inspiring blogs, books and programs that help other people pursue their dreams. I used to think of myself as someone who could be like that, but I’ve lost the confidence in myself and my skills.

So in an effort to get it back, over the past few weeks I’ve connected with some men and women who inspire me through their work, their dreams and their lifestyle.

Many of them have been in situations like mine, so they can understand what I’m going through and offer valuable tips about getting through this funk.

This is why it’s vital to find someone who inspires you, someone who will listen and mentor you through your struggles and successes.

You don’t have to go out and meet someone new, you probably already have that friend or sister or coach who can give you the “tough love” you need. Maybe you have a good relationship with your boss, like I do, and can approach them about your career frustrations.

Trust me, anyone who runs any type of business has experienced many slumps, valleys and low points. So turn to them for help!

Get out of YOU and get into others

When all else fails and you’re still sad and frustrated, it’s time to quit working on your business and start working on someone else’s. Yes, that’s what I said!

Nothing will make you spiral down faster than obsessing over yourself, your work and your business. Life is not all about you!

Nothing will get you out of a plateau faster, than spending your time and energy selflessly helping other people succeed.

Reach out to a co-worker, your boss or a family member and ask them what you can do to help them. Agree to collaborate on a new project, offer your skills and expertise for free, spend time working to make their business a success.


What this means for me

In an effort to take my own advice, I’m spending more of my time connecting and collaborating with other entrepreneurs who are changing the world.

I already work with some amazing people brands, like Office Depot, E*TRADE, and H&R Block. But even with all those awesome projects, I want to do more. To learn more. And grow more. I want to learn more about branding, creating courses that truly help other freelancers, and host training workshops that engage the community.

One of the problems with being in a slump like this is that the network I’ve created is on the same level as me.

I’ve already learned a lot about the blogging world, and now it’s time for me to keep moving forward — to make some new connections and to keep reaching higher!

This is just part of the growing pains in life. Some people will grow up and move on, other people will have more or less success and you have to know how to handle each relationship in the stage of life that you’re in.

If you’re not careful, you could get stuck in a rut for a long time — if you don’t keep adding new people and new experiences to your life.

A new project

I’m by no means going to neglect my blog or my writing; I’m just going in a slightly different direction. With the new design of my site launching soon, it’s time to shake things up a bit and try something different.

Have you ever needed to give yourself a kick in the butt? What do you do to get yourself out of a career funk?


  1. I so understand how you feel! I am amazed at how running out of “steam” can sneak up on you. I usually try the do something new/different approach. Even if that just means I sit and watch a movie (I don’t watch many movies!) I also love to read/watch biographies as they seem to motivate me. Looking forward to your new series, and thanks for the link back!

    • Carrie Smith says:

      That’s a great idea Andrea! I enjoy watching documentaries too and haven’t had a chance to do that lately. It will be nice to sit and unwind while learning a few things. Thanks for the tip!

  2. frugalportland says:

    Good luck, Carrie. I know how this goes, and slogging through the ridiculously mundane times — you’ll get over the hump, I just know it.

  3. I really need to exercise regularly myself – actually truth be told I really need some kind of fix routine in my life. About the only consistent thing in my schedule is the 8:30-5 block of weekday time where I’m working. It’s frustrating because I feel like I’m just sort of existing and I need to grab this dragon and ride it – get more of a social life and so on. Another big thing is I really need a consistent sleep schedule, I’d love to get a point where I don’t even need to use an alarm clock anymore because I’ve got a sleep schedule so ingrained.

  4. Good luck Carrie. Hitting a wall is tough. There is a book I love called “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. It is about how to break through our creative walls and refill the tank. You may want to check it out.

  5. Shannyn says:

    Inspiration goes both ways, you rock! Slumps are I think a natural part of what we do. 🙂 you are so kickin it’s tush!

  6. Jason @ WorkSaveLive says:

    Best of luck with breaking through the wall, Carrie! You sound extremely motivating, so I hope you get through your funk. I myself am facing quite a conundrum and I’m not sure what to do about it. I love my job/career (I’m a 100% commission financial advisor), but the reality is that I have to close some business in the coming months or else I’ll be looking for a new job. I’m doing my best to close the appointments/opportunities I currently have, but it’s a little scary to think what I’ll do next if this doesn’t work out.

    • Carrie Smith says:

      Taking that next step and doing what you need to is scary, very scary. I totally understand and I’m right there with you. But I know we can work through it and it will all be okay!

  7. Crystal says:

    How motivating! I am starting to walk more again and am getting back on the volunteer band wagon. It really does help to get out of my own head sometimes…

  8. Brilliant! I know that I sometimes find myself in the same slump. It’s usually a clear sign that I need to take a step back and recharge. Once I’m rested I either have crazy energy, new ideas or good things just happen on their own.

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