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How does one define a work slump or rut? Everyone has days where they were unable to maintain or regain focus, had a lack of motivation, or could barely force themselves to get out of bed. One occasional day of this is fine—however, once these days begin to weeks or months, it has become a work slump.

These long-lasting periods of reduced motivation and productivity do more than one might think. These ruts can prove to be detrimental to a person’s overall well-being, happiness, and career success. With a lack of motivation to get out of bed, an employee may begin showing up to late work. Then, once at work, a lack of productivity impacts an employee’s performance, which can and will be brought up during a performance review. Once all of this is happening, the employee becomes self-aware, then self-conscious, which further perpetuates a cycle of desolation.

While this cycle can be frustrating and is far from inspiring, a work rut doesn’t require a new position or company to break free. Rather than focusing on the environmental factors, divert your attention to your attitude and behavior. Take control of where you are and your reactions to outside forces. Ignoring or “pushing through” the problem is not a solution while addressing it head-on can allow for new insight and new appreciation for the self and the current position.


Self-evaluation is always the best place to begin. It is very likely that the slump started due to events in the employee’s life, whether that be inside or outside of the workplace. Try determining when the feeling began, and then examine what might have caused it. Stresses of personal issues, such as debt or family difficulties, can affect the office.

However, if things are good at home, the culprit could be the actual job. Toxic environments are a top contender for growing frustration. Being overly criticized, underappreciated, or excluded in the office can leave employees feeling drained and unhappy. Remember that not all work atmospheres are encouraging and supportive. Pay attention and know when to jump ship.

Find Inspiration

Finding inspiration can be done through conversation, networking, and even research. Connect with successful professionals in the field who share the same goals and interests. Listen to their backstory, study their success, and engage them in conversation. They found their way through any ruts they encountered, and they didn’t quit when they felt unconnected. That is the inspiration.

Help Others Advance

One of the best ways to create happiness and encouragement within the self is by helping others. Whether that be through mentoring the young in a particular field or joining a college alumni association, getting out there enables one to recapture their vision and dreams, as well as encourages more enthusiasm in daily work and life.