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Survive The Drought – Tips For Getting Through Dry Spells In Business

Deborah Kimmett

Does it feel you are doing everything right? You ask for work, you go for interviews, you do the marketing; sometimes you work at something for months, even years, but it seems like nothing is ever going to take root?

You feel like a failure; the opposite of blessed.

It’s like the universe has hid the Easter Eggs from you.

Now one of two things happens:

Some of you run around like a chicken with your head cut off sending out 25 resumes; doing the interviews hoping something will hit.

Others of you get overwhelmed – sleep and watch Netflix.

When walking on unsteady ground it’s common to wander around morbidly thinking about the past: “Back in 2011, I should have turned left instead of right.”

Or to terrorize ourselves with futures unknown: “If it’s this bad now, just imagine how it’s going to be when I am old.”

Once these thoughts take root, it’s easy to build a case against ourselves.

“Your honour the defendant was seen buying cat food when she should have been saving that money for rent.”

I have found myself in this place a few times in my career.

Last year was a drought year. My brother was dying, and all my energy was spent running to and from Ottawa to see him. I kept trying to generate work, but everything I touched turned to dust – middle of the prairies, 1930s dust-bowl dust.

I tried doubling my efforts through hosting writing workshops but only a few people showed up.

I did podcasts about hospice and sickness that inspired me, but they all seemingly fell on deaf ears (or no ears).

I pitched ideas to clients that they loved but didn’t hire me for.

If I was a Spaghetti western this would have been the point when the tumbleweeds blew through town.

Despite the fact I knew intellectually it would work out, my heart was acting from a place of fear.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to come from fear.

I want to come from my best self.

So here are five things that might help you during drought times and jump start your growth!
1. Pick The Low Hanging Fruit.

There is already something you are good at right here, right now, that you can make money at. Something that you do well, that you can get paid for. Clients you can get help from.

In my case, I had a lot of clients that liked my speaking work so I went back to them and picked their brains for ideas. Yes, I made actual contact by phone. Or sat down for a coffee.

This got me leads, guidance on what was changing, and eventually work.

Grab the fruit and take a bite.
2. Prepare The Soil.

Once there was some cash coming in, it was time for me to eliminate the weeds; old thinking that got me tangled up many times in the past.

One big stink weed was my incessant worry about money. If worrying about money worked for me, I would be a millionaire.

It does not.

What does help, however, is taking an accurate (but kind) assessment of what is going on.

More often than not, you have more than you think.

Yes, you all want a lush, prosperous business but maybe it isn’t the season for that. Maybe it’s a season for planting and watering new ideas.

Last year I couldn’t save, but I didn’t go into debt either. Each month I did what I could do. I watered and tended to what I had.

It gave me enough. No more. No less.

Weeds do grow back though so you need to tend to this thinking regularly.

3. Fertilize.

Now you can spend time fertilizing ideas. Speaking was laying fallow and entertaining was floundering so I started cultivating new projects.

Writing is my vocation. If I write stories and jokes people pay me, if I write a speech people will hire me eventually.

If I don’t have material there is nothing for them to give me money for.

So I did a lot of writing to get new work to offer clients.

Plus, it brought me sunshine. I am a pasty white woman and I need sunshine.

Speaking of sunshine…
4. Walk The Land.

I know I am beating this earth analogy to death but you can’t spend the whole day inside in front of our computer screens; chasing pings, chasing contacts, building your website…

It will drive you mad.

So why not go for a walk? Or a run? Or turn on some music and dance?

Getting my body moving changed my mental state immediately. I walked through the ravine with my dog and I’d chat with some folks and all of sudden I’d find a little joy.

Not only did it dial down my anxiety, the mind would often sort out my problem du jour and give me inspiration.

You get to have joy even in fallow times.
5. Stop Checking Your Growth.

Seeds need time to take root. You can’t keep digging them up and looking at them to see if things are growing. The same is true with new ideas.

If and when they bloom is not really up to you. The ones that are meant to be will poke their heads out eventually.

You can wait for those ideas to bloom with fear or with trust.

Trust feels better.
Want to share how you got through your periods of drought? Comment below.

– Deborah Kimmett is a Second City veteran, a regular performer on CBC’s radio and television show “The Debaters” and a sought-after motivational speaker. She engages her audiences with stories and killer humour that ignites, inspires and energizes. Visit her web site at to get more information on her writing bootcamps, one-on-one writing coaching and toolkits.

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