D is for Doldrums

Developing a vibrant web presence is not just about producing and sharing creative content; sometimes it is about creating any content at all. Even highly motivated people can get stuck in the doldrums, while resistance and avoidance set in and important goals languish. Everyone falls into the doldrums now and then, which makes knowing how to climb back out an essential business and creativity skill.

If you think you might have the doldrums, the first thing you need is an accurate diagnosis. Are you too distracted to focus? Do you need a fresh topic to write about? Distraction and lack of inspiration are common problems, and generally easy to overcome with a little effort. But if you still can’t move forward even after getting rid of distractions and finding good subject matter, it is time to ask more penetrating questions.

Take a look at your social networking and web presence plan. Are your goals well integrated with your overall business strategy? Does it all still make sense? If you are running into time budgeting problems, you may need to delegate more, or scale back your short-term goals while keeping the overall plan intact. Once all of these elements are in place however, if you are still lost in the blahs it is time for what I call the foundational questions.

These questions are foundational because more than any other questions, the answers help us achieve and stay in flow. Likewise, not knowing the answers to these questions makes everything more difficult and time consuming (and much less fun).

To get to the root of the matter, first ask yourself, “Is there something else I really want to do right now?” The answer may surprise you. Maybe you need to send a quick note to a friend in the hospital. Perhaps you’ve got some new song lyrics that are just itching to be written down. Or maybe there is another project on your desk that you are much more inspired to do at this moment. Take 10-15 minutes for that other task, let your creativity have its way, and chances are it will be much more cooperative when you bring it back to the task at hand.

The second foundational question is, “What am I most avoiding right now?” Sometimes it is not a creative urge knocking at our door, but rather an unpleasant task that we dread. It might be looking over a spreadsheet, dealing with a work conflict, or returning a call to your child’s teacher. There may be several items on that to-avoid list, but all you need to do is choose one, preferably the biggest or most urgent, and just get to it. Tackling that one hairy problem will reduce your stress and free up more creative energy than five cups of coffee—and it’s a lot healthier, too.

While a successful web presence hinges on creative content, it relies on longevity, and there is simply no way to maintain that presence over the long run if it is not in balance with the rest of your life. Keep answering the big questions when you fall into a funk, and you will return each time from the doldrums ready and able to bring a dynamic energy to all that you do.

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