What do you do when you hit ‘The Dip’ – that drop in motivation you experience once the excitement wears off a new undertaking?
Jules shared the creative way she and her husband are approaching their goals in 2020. She said, “We are making this the year of health and are trying to do monthly challenges related to our physical, mental, financial and environmental health.”
In January, “for environmental health we are only using reusable coffee cups (otherwise we get no coffee if we are out), for mental health we are making the bed everyday and for physical we are going to go for one hike every weekend.”
At the end of January, she sent updates on their first month:
- Making the bed everyday: A+
- Using reusable cups for coffee: A-
- Hiking every weekend: C- (January is not a great month for this goal, going to try again later)
Their February goals are:
- Physical: I want to do yoga every day, my husband wants to do push-ups every day
- Financial/environmental: no online purchasing (with the exception of cat food and diapers)
- Food: no sugar (yikes, rough for me)
- Environmental: compost food scraps (get compost bin cleaned out so we can)
What to Do When You Hit ‘The Dip’
We thought that early February was a good time to talk about The Dip, when the burst of New Year’s energy is starting to wear off. In this episode, we talk about how to know when to quit and when to push through, and strategies for re-energizing around the goals that are most important to you.
In 2007, Seth Godin, a brilliant thinker and marketer, published a short, bestselling book called The Dip: A Little Book that Teaches You When to Quit (And When to Stick).
It starts with the Vince Lombardi quote, “Quitters never win and winners never quit,” which he follows with: “Bad advice. Winners quit all the time. They just quit the right stuff at the right time.”
Godin says that every new undertaking – whether a new year’s resolution, a new job or relationship – is fun and exciting in the beginning, and then it starts to get real. He writes, “The Dip is the long slog between starting and mastery.”
It’s when the honeymoon period ends, and you wonder if it’s worth continuing to put in effort. You have a limited amount of time and energy, and you want to put your resources toward the things that are most important to you.
So how do you know when it’s time to quit? Godin writes: “You should quit if the project you’re working on has a Dip that isn’t worth the reward at the end. Quitting the projects that don’t go anywhere is essential if you want to stick out the right ones.”
Only you can know if you’re in a dip worth conquering – but this approach is very much in line with Greg McKeown’s Essentialism – doing less but better, saying no to everything except what allows you to make your highest contribution.
Gill has experienced dips with the food and travel blog she and Brian started years ago – and has (for the moment) decided she’s OK with not dedicating time to. She also ran into a dip with Semi-Together (more on that in our first episode, False Starts & Fresh Starts) but happily decided to re-engage with it with new energy.
Melia says parenting comes with many dips, like the excitement of having a baby and then the reality of sleepless nights and tons of demands on your time and money. Right now, she is in a dip with Avery’s sleep disruptions and is trying to remain optimistic while she and Darren try everything they can think of to solve the problem. Melia’s Reschool Yourself project has also involved dips, and she is working on figuring out what kind of book she wants to write about the experience.
How to Deal with The Dip
When you find yourself facing The Dip, here are a few strategies to get to the other side:
1. Decide where you want to invest your time.
Consider all your options, and get curious about each. What are you most excited about? What is most meaningful to you? Re-energize on the goals you care most about, and work on saying “no” to requests or cutting back on activities that don’t move your most significant priorities forward. For example, politely decline a friend’s invite to eat out at a new restaurant if you’re trying to stick to a budget and save money. Bonus points if you suggest a way to hang out that aligns with another goal – like taking a walk or cooking a meal together.
2. Focus on long-term benefits to get through short-term discomfort.
Look ahead to where you will be in six months or a year if you stick with whatever goal you’re working toward. Use the future reward as encouragement to keep up your habits now. Gill is imagining future mastery to stay motivated with Spanish lessons, and Melia is focusing on better nights once she makes it through the trial and error of Avery’s sleep struggles.
3. Find moments of joy, inspiration, and gratitude.
Notice and celebrate any small step forward in a project or goal – by giving yourself gold stars, having kitchen dance parties, or reveling in moments of awe in nature. Melia makes it a point to do this during the ups and downs of parenting, by cuddling her kids, reading to them, and stepping back to marvel at how creative, cute, and funny they are.
4. Take care of your health – mind, body, and spirit.
It’s hard to slog through The Dip when you’re feeling rundown or depleted. Obviously, there are some things you don’t have as much control over – like Melia’s sleep right now! But look for things you can do to care for yourself. Eat foods that make your body feel good. Move every day. Go outside. Take a break from screens. Try something new. For example, spend a few minutes of your lunch break doing something for your health: journaling, reading a book, listening to an audiobook, walking around the block, or sending a friend a “thinking of you” text.
5. Beat the winter blues.
It’s tough to have the energy to push through the dip when we’re feeling down, which many of us do in the winter when we don’t see the sun much. We may have a mild version of Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. Consider supplements (disclaimer: we are not doctors, so do your own research and ask your doctor): Omega-3s + Vitamin D. Melia has been taking them for years and has personally seen a difference in her mood and mental clarity. You can also get a light therapy lamp and read the book Winter Blues by Dr. Norman Rosenthal, an expert on Seasonal Affective Disorder, for more information.
Those strategies again are:
- Decide where you want to invest your time.
- Focus on long-term benefits to get through short-term discomfort.
- Find moments of joy, inspiration, and gratitude.
- Take care of your health – mind, body, and spirit.
- Beat the winter blues.
Get It Together / Got It Together
We each share something that’s going well for us at the moment and something else we’d like to work on.
Gill’s Get It Together: Getting into a work late/ go to bed late schedule
Gill’s Got It Together: Making social plans with friends
Melia Get It Together: Not setting aside time to relax
Melia Got It Together: Getting new boots
Get In Touch
Tell us about the dips you have encountered, including with your new year’s resolutions, and how you’re managing them. Email us at podcast[at]semitogether.com, or send us a voice memo. You can also leave a comment on Facebook or Instagram.
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- The Dip: A Little Book that Teaches You When to Quit (And When to Stick) by Seth Godin
- Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg Mckeown
- Brave, Not Perfect by Reshma Saujani
- Reschool Yourself
- Skin Cancer Foundation: Sun Protection and Vitamin D
- The Wirecutter: The Best Light Therapy Lamp
- The Joy of Movement: How exercise helps us find happiness, hope, connection, and courage by Kelly McGonigal
- The Depression Cure The 6-Step Program to Beat Depression without Drugs by Stephen S. Ilardi
- Learn to Relax, by Mike George