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How to Bust Through a Plateau and Overcome a Career Slump


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.

Don’t believe me? Go check out Shannyn’s story and see how exercising helped make her a Rockstar Blogger.

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.

new results

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.

Over the next few months, I’ll be featuring interviews with men and women who’ve been in debt, are making a living freelancing or launched a  successful business.

You’ll hear how they paid off their debts, started businesses — with little to no experience — and uncovered success for themselves.

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

How to Be a Freelance Blogger with Sophie Lizard
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About the author: Carrie Smith is a financial writer, business consultant and freelance coach. After paying off $14,000 of debt she quit her accounting day job and launched Careful Cents. In the past 5 years it’s grown into a blog and community aimed at helping freelancers overcome financial mountains and build successful client-based businesses. When she’s not writing about finance, and geeking out over numbers, she enjoys painting, sketching and making food with her chef husband. You can connect with her in real time on Twitter or Instagram: @carefulcents.
19 Comments... Read them below or add one of your own
  • Andrea Travillian October 24, 2012, 3:54 pm

    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 October 25, 2012, 9:13 am

      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!

  • Jenna from Adaptu October 24, 2012, 4:24 pm

    What a good message! Thanks for the reminder to exercise more!

  • frugalportland October 24, 2012, 5:55 pm

    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.

    • Carrie Smith October 25, 2012, 9:13 am

      Thanks for stopping by and cheering me on!

  • Robb @WatchOutForFlyingNinjas! October 25, 2012, 1:01 am

    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.

  • Greg@ClubThrifty October 25, 2012, 6:37 am

    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.

    • Carrie Smith October 25, 2012, 9:19 am

      I’ll definitely have to check that book out. I love finding new books to read and plan to spend more time doing that. Thanks for the suggestion!

  • Shannyn October 25, 2012, 8:37 am

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

  • Plunged in Debt October 25, 2012, 10:09 am

    Great post! I always enjoy what you write so hope the goodness keep flowing! Interesting fact about exercise…I find when I do get outside and get that blood flowing I think better.

  • Jason @ WorkSaveLive October 25, 2012, 10:25 am

    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 October 25, 2012, 11:00 am

      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!

  • Crystal October 25, 2012, 1:17 pm

    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…

    • Carrie Smith October 25, 2012, 3:42 pm

      That’s great news Crystal! Volunteering is an awesome idea and something I’ll have to implement more too.

  • Rajamani Thialan October 27, 2012, 9:13 am

    Wow, thanks for these pointers. I guess we all need go through this phase and need motivation to keep going.

  • Amanda Abella October 27, 2012, 4:48 pm

    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.

    • Carrie Smith October 28, 2012, 1:22 pm

      Absolutely! I never thought about it, but it’s true – once we take a step back and get rested, good things tend to fall into place on their own. Great observation Amanda!

  • Financial Samurai November 11, 2012, 1:34 pm

    Sad we didn’t meet at Fincon12. Good luck on your new projects!


    • Carrie Smith November 11, 2012, 10:51 pm

      I agree, but there’s always next year!

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