This article was written by John Mullins and printed in the Cape Argus, dated 21 June 2010.  A handy “tip” list is included at the end of the article.

“Okay so not everyone who reads this is in a career slump, but I bet you’ll recognise some of the symptoms of a career slump, even if they are only very temporary. The trick is to notice them quickly and of course to work out why they exist and how to get rid of them.”

“Do you not regard yourself as a star performer?  If not, then I guess you have a big decision to make. And it goes something like this. Why do I work? Are you a “because I have to” kind of person? Or are you on a quest to find your highest level of potential?”

“So here are some things I’ve learned from performance coaches who have worked extensively with athletes who have experienced reduced performance levels at some point. First, we need to understand that performance slumps can be caused by many things, but like in the world of the athlete, the first thing we should look at is the physical reasons.”

“What is your physical condition like? Are you feeling slightly off your peak? Or are you perhaps not as fit and sharp as you should be?   Never stop paying attention to your health. It could just be the one thing that is bringing you down.”

“Okay, so once you’ve ruled out any physical reason for not performing to your peak, you should start to pay attention to your mental approach to work. One of the most common reasons for individuals getting stuck in a rut is their negative self-talk routine.  As a performance slump sets in and remains, it is common for a person to obsess with a fault finding and blaming routine. It means that we shift our focus to all the reasons we can’t do something, instead of why we can.”

“Instead of focusing on the very next thing we need to do to get back on track, our minds get stuck in a looping of the mistake. So we clutter our mind with negative thoughts instead of staying in the here and now.  In practice it works like this. You have a choice after you mess up. You can occupy your thoughts with over analysing every detail of why you screwed up. Or, you could simply trust yourself, and handle the very immediate challenge in front of you on its merits. Without any preconceived judgements, or assumptions. Just do what needs to be done now! For this to happen you need to develop a strong self-belief mental script.”

“I think one of the best ways to do this is to accept that mistakes happen. Understand that no matter who you are and what the situation is, errors can happen. However, accepting that failure is part of the game allows you to reduce your stress and anxiety over this reality. It means you don’t see yourself as the source of failure. Rather you see yourself as a part of the success equation.”

Here are some tips to help you get there.

Tips for busting from a slump

  • Make sure your physical condition is at the highest it can   be. Rule out any physical reasons for being in a slump.
  • Take care of things outside your job that could be  cluttering your mind. Reduce your distractions.
  • Accept that failures are a natural part of any job. They are  not permanent.
  • Reduce your negative beliefs. You have performed well  before, you will reach that level again.
  • Focus on the here and now. Do not live in the past, or too   far in the future.