How To Get Out of a Multipod Funk
Photo courtesy of John Tyler.

How To Get Out of a Multipod Funk

Written by Emilie

Topics: Lifestyle Design

Note from Emilie: This is a guest post by Paul Strobl.

The roller coaster of life’s successes and disappointments can have much higher peaks and deeper valleys for multipotentialites than for non-multipods.

When things are really firing, we’re on a high of creativity and productivity that lights us from within, helping us to push the boundaries of innovation. It’s an incredibly powerful feeling that we don’t want to end. On the other hand, when we’re down in a funk, it can feel as though we’re stuck in a never-ending rut.

If this sounds like you, don’t worry. There’s nothing wrong with you.

After over a decade of working with clients that I call “Renaissance Entrepreneurs,” I’ve come to realize that our productivity just isn’t as consistent as the specialized world tells us it should be.

This doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with us or that we’re not capable of sustained productivity; it just means we have to take notice of our lows and take steps to break free of the funk.

How to Break out of “Down Cycles”

Here are three simple (notice I did not say “easy”) ways to overcome these lows.

1) Admit and accept that you’re in a funk

You’ve been here before and you’ll be here again. The important thing to remember is that your past achievements came out of your creative and productive moments; they didn’t come from your dry spells. Trying to force them out now will only serve to make you more frustrated.

2) Have self-compassion

Treat yourself kindly and stop “shoulding” on yourself. Put down the stick that you’re beating yourself with, and challenge the thought that you should be more productive than you are in this moment. It’s OK to be in a funk.

3) Play

Knowing that these “down times” didn’t get you where you are and that they won’t be very productive, go out and do something you love doing. It’s important to really let yourself off the hook here. This time is a guilt-free zone!

The Importance of Accepting the “Down Times”

A recent coaching client of mine really took this advice to heart and realized that there is no use dwelling on these “down cycles.” After we’d discussed these three steps and he’d put them into practice, he said:

“Following these three steps had me getting out and doing some outdoor sports—it turned out to be the best thing I could do. The funks are shorter and the productive times are longer. I’ve also started using these down times to focus on what my kids are up to. Some of the best bonding times I’ve experienced recently have been from simply letting go of my business ownership during a funk.”

Accepting our shortcomings is not easy, and society rarely teaches us to be compassionate towards ourselves. However, we must remember to give ourselves the gift of this guilt-free playtime to break the cycle. If the play isn’t guilt-free, it’s not effective.

Your Turn

How would your life be different if you were able to significantly reduce your “funk time”?

paulPaul Strobl is a personal coach for Renaissance Entrepreneurs. He is originally from Houston, Texas and is location independent currently living in Buenos Aires with his wife and three rescue dogs. When he’s not coaching, he’s hiking somewhere in Patagonia or sipping red wine.

27 Comments

  1. Steve says:

    I’ve found this very true in my life and it’s worse when depression piles on top, locking you down in a seemingly endless cycle. But it’s never endless, I try to remind myself. Love the advice to go do something fun, often “forgetting” about what’s not working breaks the cycle and the creativity and energy return. Thanks!

    • Paul Strobl says:

      Agreed. When getting out is hard to do, calling a friend to do an activity together can be a good way to help leave the house. A good friend will also give us the compassion that we sometimes don’t give ourselves. Glad you found it helpful!

  2. Stefano says:

    Very, very useful, thanks!
    Just a contribution on my side: I realized that “I should” = “I want on long term”. The point is the simple (and again not easy) question “what do you want, soon or later?”.
    I found that my “funk” times are those when I do not know what I want, for now or for future.

    Stefano

    • Paul Strobl says:

      Thank you for your comment, Stefano.

      I also find it important to make sure there is no “in order to” when we look at what we want long term.

      Would you do the thing you want in the future if no one knew it was you who did it? (to see whether ego is in the mix)

      Would you do the thing if you hit the lottery tomorrow? This takes away that “in order to” just make money.

      If the answer to both of these is yes, then it means you are really connected to your inner passion.

  3. Kathleen says:

    Hi
    Your article is timely. This morning I am feeling tired after teaching last night.
    As I sit with a cup of coffee, I noticed how I was criticising myself for needing caffeine, for being lazy and even questioning whether I am on the right path. I realised that I needed to stop, pause and recognise the suffering I am creating for myself, meet my physical tiredness with kindness, and choose kind words of acknowledgement (instead of the self-critic running the show). This is a practice, as a Mindful Self-Compassion teacher, that I teach an exercise called the Self-Compassion Break. If you are interested, it is simple to use and helps with times we are in a funk.

  4. K.C. says:

    Thanks Emily/Paul,

    I agree 100%, especially about learning to have self-compassion. I’m proud to say that I finally learned that this year as a result of a more committed mediation practice. It is a very freeing feeling. Thanks again for all you do!

    K.C.

    • Paul Strobl says:

      That’s great that you’re having success with meditation, K.C.! I’d also recommend checking out the work of Kristin Neff if meditation hasn’t work for you (we’re all a bit different!). She has some very practical approaches to developing more self-compassion.

  5. Danilo says:

    Very Interesting post, but I use to find me in these feelings and I’m not able to have a compassion with myself. I’m alone because around me I have people that thinks that I’m am heavy because I’m always talking about my dream to come in US and to create my own business, but all of them think that I have to accept this life because I have so much and I don’t have to complain.
    This period for me is very, very, very difficult and I don’t know if I will never find my way, It seems to be a chronic situation and I can’t figure out how to get out this situation.
    Regards
    Danilo

    • Paul Strobl says:

      Letting go of the critical eye of others is a big one to overcome. Keep in mind that most people think they are helping, when in reality they are projecting their own fears, insecurities, and sometimes envy. Becoming free of what other people think is extremely liberating, and it’s something that has to be worked at and improved.

      And here’s the reality: we get caught up in what other people think of us, but by and large, they don’t think of us at all!

  6. Karen Abbott says:

    This makes total sense. Anxiety has a negative effect on the brain, making it harder to think clearly, remember well, organise, or experience the positive feelings and pleasurable absorption in activities that make it possible to be creative.

    I’m getting back on the meditation bandwagon after a rough few months where it fell by the wayside, and it makes a huge positive difference in health and outlook.

  7. Honza says:

    Hello Paul,

    thanks for your post. I am calling it Yin (Turtle) and Yang (Tiger) times. In Tiger I m more productive, talkative, more innovative and creative. But in Turtle times i m far more better in listening, empathy, supporting and receiving. Maybe even wise :).

    So in Yang times i m working on my projects and Yin times I m mentoring and coaching. Wonderful combination :). In each time i m working with my body a lot and also i m intensively using mindfulness(my way :) ).

    I really appreciate your work as a personal coach for Renaissance Entrepreneurs, Paul. I m starting RE wave in Czech Republic. Or Czechia :D
    We have very specialist-oriented scene here, but we make it through. So lets make more and more succesful and happy Renaissance Entrepreneurs :)

    • Paul Strobl says:

      Hi Honza,

      That’s great that you’ve already found ways to best utilize your up and down times. And yes, I agree! Let’s help make more successful and happy RE’s – the first step is letting them know they are not normal. Emilie’s TED talk is a great resource!

  8. Dora says:

    The most important point for me was “if the play isn’t guilt-free, it’s my effective.”. The most difficult part for me is “playing” because I constantly fee I should be doing something, taking care of something, working on something. I’m working on it but haven’t had a breakthrough yet..

    • Paul Strobl says:

      This is a tough one…when we “should” on ourselves. One way is to try on the opposite – you should be doing what you are doing because it’s what is true. It’s what is. Anything else is a denial of reality.

      Have you ever walked into a mall, seen the little map at the entrance that points to a red spot that reads “You are here.”? That’s all it is – at any given time, you are here. You’re not in Macy’s, or the Apple store, and in the situation in the mall, it would be silly to get upset over being somewhere else.

      So when you play, be in the play. It’s where you should be because it’s where you are. Or stuck in traffic. Or in a long line at the grocery store. “This is where I’m supposed to be, because this is where I am.”

      • Dora says:

        That’s an intersting way to see it. I’ll try telling myself that next time I’m “playing”. I guess I’m looking for that thing/line/person/situation that will make my brain “click” and realise what I do. I have been able to do it in the past but something changed.

        p.s. sorry for sll the typos.. iPad autocorrect failed me once again..

  9. Lynn Goodman says:

    I’ve been in a funk for a year and a half no (horrible things keep happening in my life – illnesses and deaths of loved ones, injuries/surgeries, and so forth), and I just can’t seem to summon the energy to work. It is awful. I don’t ant to stay here, but can’t seem to break free of it. I do go out and hike, and spend time with friends when they’re free, but there really is nothing else that I really enjoy in the place that I am currently living.

    How do I break this?

    • Dora says:

      I don’t know what your life is like so this might not be the best advice for you but I would move o go traveling. You need to break the cycle.

      • Paul Strobl says:

        Great question. As Dora mentioned, that’s certainly one way to go (travel that is), and I’d also say that a year and a half is a very long funk. There’s no substitute for professional help if you’re really stuck.

        In regards to the horrible things happening, what are the lessons? How are these tremendous gifts? No one wants anyone to pass away, and I’ve always found death to be a great teacher.

  10. GeXinyao says:

    This artical is really a reminder for me.It suddenly occurred to me that maybe I have been trapped in others’ comments too much recently.I go to great lengths to live up to others’ expectations that I should always be superior to other students.However it does happen sometimes that my mind goes blank when I am sitting an exam or trying to come up with a wonderful idea in class,which just makes me feel depressed and worsens the situation.Maybe in such situation what I should do is to put others’ expectations aside and admit that I am not able to be pefect all the time.

    • Paul Strobl says:

      Freeing oneself of the critical eye of others is an incredibly liberating experience. We can never really know what another person thinks, or whether they think of us at all. Even if they do communicate their criticisms, we can use it as valuable feedback or give it no weight at all.

      “Perfectionism is self-abuse of the highest order.” ? Anne Wilson Schaef

      Yes, let go of being perfect and be human instead.

  11. Sol says:

    Cool post! Although I feel like Im always in a funk… if it’s not creativity, it’s about money or getting a job in real life that can pay a rent in this crazy expensive country (the same the author is currently living in!) But yeah, reading these lines helped me realise that it’s ok, it’s not just me… it’s life itself and there are always ways to sort it out… I hope ;)
    Thank you for the article!

  12. Sol says:

    Hey Paul! It would be awesome to have a coffee with you. I live in Rosario, but when I go to BA I will write to you for sure. If you come to Rosario, let’s grab a some mate here :)
    Is there a way to discreetely exchange email addresses and phone numbers?

  13. Sol says:

    BTW, I read that article but still can’t find a way to make money :/ lol

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