My grandmother Muz always could tell if I was a little blue, or, as she liked to say, “funky.”
Of course, she didn’t mean “funky” like smelly, or that I was movin’ to the groovin’.
She saw that I was stuck in a negative place, or, what we call being “in a funk.”
I remember Muz every time I catch myself in a funk.
Lately, a lot of us have had that funky feeling.
It’s not fun.
But we can outsmart and outwork it.
So if you’re asking yourself how to get out of a funk, try these actions today.
[Just to be clear, there’s a difference between our short-term funks and depression or more serious mental health challenges. If you or a loved one think what’s happening is more than just the blues, don’t hesitate—please get professional help. Your company may have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that provides mental healthcare, or your healthcare provider may offer its own resources, many of which may be free or low-cost. Plus, in the US, there’s the Department of Health & Human Service’s helpline, plus the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). I’m a fan of Crisis Text Line, too. The resources are out there, so use them when you need them, because we need you.]
How to Get Out of a Funk: 3 Actions to Take Now
Action #1: Answer “What’s good with me right now?”
Imagine your life as a glass of clear drinking water.
And then you take an eyedropper of ink—just a teeny tiny amount—and plop it into the glass.
What happens to the glass?
The entire thing turns inky.
Not just in proportion water to ink. The ink stains all of it.
That’s what a little negativity can do to our overall attitude.
Our job then is to pour more “clear water” into the glass of our brain, making sure all that’s good is really overflowing and overpowering the rest.
To do this, make a running list of what’s GOOD with you right now.
I keep my list on the Notes app on my iPhone, but you could write it on an index card or anything that you can keep handy.
Currently on my list:
- My overall health
- Amazing mom & sister
- Great, supportive friends
- Inspiring clients and readers (thank you!)
And that’s just the start.
In my coaching work with professionals managing through tough career and workplace changes, I’ll often ask them to take a hard look at everything that IS working.
Often, they realize they’ve been ignoring a lot of the “clear water” elements in their life, such as:
- I’m good at what I do
- I’ve got a healthy network of colleagues willing to help
- My basic needs are covered
- I enjoy my industry/profession
- No matter what’s happened, I’ve learned a lot along the way
- I’ve been successful in the past—I can feel that way again
Take a minute to make your list now. Don’t judge it or censor it—there’s no right or wrong.
Your goal is to talk back to that dark ink staining your beautiful brain, reminding yourself that while everything may not be perfect, it might be better than you realize.
What’s on YOUR list?
Action #2: Uncover the gift in the situation
When we’re going through crappy situations and feeling down, it’s hard to see that what’s happening has any upside.
But here’s a thought.
What if what’s happening is also a gift?
I know, I know.
It’s not easy to see it.
But it’s possible that there’s an upside for what you’re going through now.
A reward. A bonus. Lemonade from your lemons.
Can’t see it yet? Here are a few examples from my clients to can help get your juices flowing:
- Between jobs? That may gift you the time to work out more, spend time with your family, volunteer, or to have more conversations with people in your profession or in another you’d like to learn about.
- Feeling underappreciated or undervalued at work? Your feelings are a gift to push you to have the conversations you need to have with your boss or others. (And be sure to use the strategies here and here.)
- Waiting for your house to sell before you can move somewhere else? It may give you time to research your future city and start to make connections there by phone and LinkedIn.
- Are you the only one left in the department? This gifts you power! Your organization can’t afford to lose you, so ask for more of what you want and need.
- Assigned to the most messed up project or team? You’re gifted the chance to show what you can do (and to set realistic expectations–after all, everyone already KNOWS it’s a mess, right?)
What’s the gift that’s right there for YOU?
Action #3: Choose one decision to make NOW
When we procrastinate making decisions, we create more tension in our lives.
But when we’re in a funk, we don’t feel equipped to make decisions.
Then, when we don’t decide, we stay stuck in our funk and the tension accelerates.
I lovingly call this the Circle of Strife.
The only way to get out of the Circle of Strife is to make decisions, even imperfect ones.
As I share here in “The Truth Behind Why Making Career Decisions Is Hard,” it’s typically not the decision that freezes us—it’s the consequences.
But most of the time, we’re guessing as to what those consequences are.
Instead, get specific. Do the homework. Invest in professional coaching or reach out to a non-judgmental friend to talk through it.
But sooner than later, make one decision.
And then another.
No matter what the consequence, making decisions sends a message to your brain that you’re making forward progress—and forward progress moves you faster out of your funk.
My grandmother would approve.
Now, your turn
Those actions are just a starting place. If you’ve figured out how to get out of a funk in the past, what worked for YOU?
Be sure to join our Insider Community here, free. where you can respond directly. We’ll keep updating this article with YOUR thoughts and ideas, and together, we can help each other stay positive and soaring in our new world of work.
Hey—want more help?
No matter what’s happening in your career, a 30-minute chat with me can show you how to get out of a funk and move forward, fast.
Just hit the button below, and pick a date and time that’s available. There’s nothing to prepare–just show up right where you are. If, after we talk, it sounds like one of my coaching programs or courses will help you going forward, I’ll share details after our call. There’s no pressure—my goal is to be helpful immediately.
Spots fill up fast, though, so schedule yours now and start getting the support you deserve.