How to Overcome Languishing


Several months ago, there was a gripping article in the New York Times on languishing, which described the ho-hum feeling we all experience from time to time. This emotion is often dismissed because it does not require immediate action. It’s a time when life is okay, just not great. Here at R|L, an “okay” existence is not acceptable. We believe that when each of us thrives, we elevate others to do the same. We’ve asked the R|L team what they do to re-spark their lives, inspire motivation, and regain purpose when they catch themselves languishing.

Clyde Lowstuter, MCC
President & CEO
Executive Coach

Take Time to Create!

For me, artistic expression helps me look at situations with fresh eyes. When I allow myself to step back and regularly create, I find that I approach problems from new angles. Some of you know I am a potter and sculpt large free-form ceramic sculptures. While it is just a hobby, a few hours of playing with clay and I come at challenges from a completely different vantage point. Creating allows me to attach new meaning to an idea I’ve been wrestling with and achieve a new context. In no time, I am on a different path, often the beginning of a new adventure that is exciting. I leave my slow languishing steps in the dust. When I look at things in the world with new perspectives, I find that magic happens.

Carolyn Lowstuter
Executive VP &
Executive Coach

Learning Fosters What Is Possible

In times of uncertainty and ambiguity where languishing lurks, learning something new keeps me engaged. Keeping skills fresh and relevant inspires a new level of confidence.

There is often a fine line of stretching to the edge of my comfort zone without spinning into overwhelm. It is there in overwhelm that I can lose my traction and start to languish. It can feel like quicksand weighing heavily on my steps. Learning something new pulls me out of status quo and helps me look into what is possible. The power of that new discovery puts a bounce to my step and reinvigorates me.

Susan Snowden
Vice President &
Executive Coach

I Promise Myself a Reward

I am a swimmer. I swim for exercise and meditation! Some days I don’t want to get in the cold water! I would instead “languish” in the steam room or the sauna.

So, what do I do to overcome my desire to stay warm instead of cold? I promise myself a reward for doing the first quarter mile! Yes, if I do a quarter mile, I can have or do something that I like. (Eating something tasty comes to mind.)

  • You probably know where this is going, don’t you? I get that first quarter mile done, and then what the heck. I am wet and warmed up, why not another quarter, and so it goes.
  • The takeaway is not that I make and break promises to myself. The takeaway is that I get in motion and see where it takes me; that is my reward!

Pat Mater
Vice President &
Executive Coach

Break Up Your Routine

I normally start out the day with a walk and listening to a book on tape. I find, however, that it gets a bit boring doing the same thing every morning. Recently, to break up the routine, I changed to listening to upbeat music. One song that got me charged up recently is Fame – “You ain’t seen the best of me yet.” It made me focus on the future and all it has to offer, rather than settle for the habit of predictability that allows me to languish.

Dave Dallam
Vice President &
Executive Coach

An Emotional Vaccine

Adam Grant’s TED Talk, “How to stop languishing and start finding flow”, has been viewed 1.7 million times in the two months since it was posted. It appears to be something we all are feeling. My first reaction to his use of the word “languishing” was associated with negative thoughts: weakness, withering, drooping, decline, fading, wasting, failing. My reaction over time is becoming less negative but much more persistent. Languishing feels increasingly like interminable waiting without expectation of resolution. This may be a more damaging effect of this pandemic. So how do we learn stress-free “waiting”?

Finding our “flow” is a fine goal but getting there begins small and builds on success: Investing more deeply in relationships within our inner circles. Finding a hobby. Becoming a better listener. Taking a break from social media. In short, one way to move past languishing is by forming new habits around things that enrich our lives and bring us joy.

Sharon Noha
Senior Vice President  Business Development

Have an Adventure Outside

Are you tired of the four walls in your home office or your virtual background for your Zoom calls? I would highly recommend treating yourself to the amazing vistas, beautiful hikes, and grandeur of a national park. I have a favorite niece that I was lucky enough to escape without to God’s country in Utah, visiting both Zion and Bryce National Parks.

It’s impossible not to be in awe most of the day in these parks. We had the opportunity to hike for three days at each park. The sky at sunrise created hard-to-believe magical colors in the sky and we enjoyed the continual transformation of the mountains and trails with the changing light throughout the day. The majesty of Zion makes you feel so tiny and insignificant amidst this 12-mile canyon that looms high on all sides of you. The hoodoos in Bryce are totally otherworldly; at times we felt like we’d been dropped into a Dr. Seuss book of whimsical characters. Every turn opened up to new incredible sights. One day after 10+ miles and the equivalent of 106 floors of hiking, even the cowboy buffet didn’t look too bad. Trust me, if you find yourself languishing at home during this pandemic, venture out to a national park. You’ll be refreshed and renewed in wonderful ways!

Ron Hirasawa
Vice President &
Executive Coach

Managing Languishing

Languishing ranges from low-energy blahs to clinical depression. Non-health languishing behavior can be changed with:

1. Having a fun, satisfying hobby;
2. Practicing mindfulness;
3. Listening, playing, singing music;
4. Communing with nature;
5. Laughing.

Putting your talents into work should be balanced with a hobby or avocations. Combine the above list for example. How about singing a favorite song while watering your plants, visualizing deep breathing, and not thinking about anything else for 20 minutes a day? Watch your favorite funny movie or show. Spend time each day with a friend or loved one F2F or virtually, laughing together.



John Hart
Vice President &
Executive Coach


Music as Motivation

As a product of the pandemic, many have found themselves in various forms of a holding pattern. With so much uncertainty for the past two years, it can be difficult to take action. Many have found themselves languishing in a state of stagnation and emptiness. Breaking out of this state might require a bit of an energizing nudge. I would like to suggest that music can be the source.

As a musician, I truly appreciate the emotional impact that music can have on us. The interpretive brilliance of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, the grandiosity of Mussorgsky’s Great Gate of Kiev, and of course my favorite, the theme song to Rockey “Gonna Fly Now” by Bill Conti. Yes, it is truly dorky in its ‘70’s simplicity, but it is motivational. Just try to listen to it without envisioning yourself in the montage of exercise culminating with a top of the stairs fist pump.

If you are feeling like you need motivation to get up, get out, and take action, consider adopting a theme song. The next time you are having a hard time getting motivated, try playing that motivational song, whatever it is, in your head first. You may be able to take on that next challenge.

John’s top 10 motivational songs:
1.) Gotta Fly Now by Bill Conti.
2.) Anything that is classic ‘70’s funk (Play that Funky Music by Wild Cherry)
3.) The Future is so Bright I Gotta Wear Shades by Timbuk 3
4.) The Heat is On – Glen Frey
5.) Higher Love by Steve Winwood
6.) September – By my friends from Earth Wind and Fire (a super bunch of musicians)
7.) Ain’t No Mountain High Enough by Diana Ross
8.) I’m Still Standing by Sir Elton John
9.) Born to Run by the BOSS, Bruce Springsteen
10.) I Won’t Back Down by Tom Petty

Christy Glick
Director of Communications & Projects

Be Kind to Yourself

When I feel myself languishing, I find that I quickly jump from the sense of emptiness and lack of motivation to self-criticism. “Why don’t I feel right?” “I should be doing something differently.” “If only I could get my act together…” When I finally have a moment to take a step back and realize the nature of this internal dialogue, I remember just how important kindness is. This includes kindness toward other people, most certainly – but sometimes it also means kindness toward myself. There is a reason I am feeling this way, and I am certainly not alone.

For me, kindness may take the form of taking a needed break, or spending an extra hour doing something I love; it might mean forgiving myself for a mistake I made, more quickly than I usually would. Ultimately, it means acknowledging that it’s ok to feel “off” at times and having the self-understanding to live in that “off” moment without the push to do or be more than I am right now. Even more, extending this kindness to myself provides a strong foundation for offering it to others who may be feeling the same way. And as that kindness grows, the languishing may lose a bit of its power.


Kendra Washington
Executive Assistant for
Client Services


Snowball Intrinsically Motivated Interests

Go to work, go home, and repeat.

Being consistent and having healthy routines are praised for they lead to stable schedules and should help maintain key areas of our lives. But with all things, extremes result in problems, issues, and downfalls.

Go to work, go home, and repeat.

Predictability can transform into monotony, resulting in us surviving in a kind of unconscious state of mind, in which we languish. It stands to reason that if we change our schedules and / or add activities, then we can break out of this state, but there is more to it than that. Anyone can become busy, but that does not mean we are using our time effectively or improving our lives significantly. So how do we break the tedium without draining or overworking ourselves? By focusing on intrinsically motivated interests.

Go to work, go home, and exercise intrinsically motivated interests?

As we come back to consciousness, we must decide what motivates us. Intrinsic motivation means doing something for the fun of it. There is no work-related project to complete, it is not meant to be shared or shown off, it is something that brings you personal satisfaction and doesn’t need anyone’s approval or praise to be appreciated.

Intrinsically motivated, find interests, repeat.

Learning to play the piano, not because someone needs or wants you to play it, but because you want to. After you select your intrinsic interests, begin incorporating them into your schedule. Start small so you can build atomic habits as you go. Practice playing one song, 10 minutes per-day for the first week. In the second week, add 10 more minutes and a new intrinsic interest, say reading for 10 minutes, so on and so on. You will discover that you can enhance your life wake up from the unconscious, unmotivated life you had before.

Intrinsically motivated, practice your interests, repeat.


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