Running out of gas, when your self-improvement program stalls.

Out of Gas

By David Joel Miller.

Has your self-improvement plan run out of gas?

We see this in all the creative professions. Writers complain about writer’s block. Artists run out of creative ideas. Businesses become stale and stagnate. Why is it so hard to stay creative, to keep making progress on your recovery? What can you do about those out of gas episodes?

As a counselor, I see a similar phenomenon. The client who is making lots of progress and then suddenly after one particularly great session they return and this subsequent session seems to go nowhere. What happened to the resolve to change?

We have different words to use to describe these occurrences but the common thread is that after a period of successful activity there is a period of needing to rest, relax and recharge your batteries. One thing we learn in mindfulness is that you can’t fix a car when it is being driven at 65. The creative mind needs some time of rest if the creativity is going to keep coming.

Sometimes when we open up and reveal the true us, in counseling or in relationships, we fear we have gone too far in changing, gotten ahead of where we are comfortable and we need to pull back and reevaluate.

The client who has breakthroughs, who achieves insight, sometimes feels they have overdone, over shared, and the next time they are in the office they retreat to a safer, less involved place. The challenge is to not let this pull back, this need to recharge, become an end to our efforts to make things better.

How, if you are making significant progress on an issue do you sustain that effort? What keeps this uncomfortable place from becoming a place of permanently stuck?

How does the creative person recharge their batteries and pick up the process without long periods of being unproductive? Most writers have had episodes of writer’s block but if those episodes last too long then you stop being a writer. The writer writes, the creative business person conducts business and the parent needs to keep on parenting even when they run out of answers.

One reason that your productivity declines after a period of accomplishment is that your interest in the project or the field has decreased. We see this in college majors frequently. The first year and into the second the student wants to learn all they can. By the last year, they just want to get done and get a job. Somewhere along the way, for many of us, the passion ends long before the relationship.

A novelist starts out wanting to tell the story. Part way through the story the essential ingredients are all down on paper, the plot the characters and so on. From then and there the author knows how the characters will respond to events, the outcome becomes more predictable. The writer’s problem is to maintain the level of interest in what will happen and in telling his characters stories that he had at the beginning.

This same phenomenon happens to businesses. They grow and expand in the early stages and then the owners, having put in all that effort begin to lose interest, the fire of desire has gone out and the new innovative ideas stop flowing. Recharging brains helps but relighting the fires of interest is what is really needed.

We know that good relationships, romantic, parental or relationships with self, do not just happen. To keep that relationship alive you need to invest some time and effort in maintaining those relationships.

What we all need to learn to do is to spend some time maintaining that one relationship that will last a lifetime, our relationship with ourselves.

What have you done recently to put the fun back into your life? How will you choose to take care of yourself? What specific actions will you take to maintain your relationship with your partner and with your children? How will you find ways to make that job you do, that career or business you own, fun again.

To put that creative spark back in all you do you first need to put the excitement back into what you are doing and how that will get done.

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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings, and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books


4 thoughts on “Running out of gas, when your self-improvement program stalls.

  1. Evening David. What a fantastic post.I love that…Our relationship with ourselves! This is definitely one we tend to neglect. We all spend too much time trying to make everyone else around us happy ,and forget the most important person…ourselves! Happy Easter, David. hugs Paula xxx


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