How to get your mojo back

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My legs were trembling uncontrollably as I strained to maintain my squat.

Sweating and looking in my trainer’s eyes, I realized that I had only completed five deep lunges.

Back in the day (now, more than 15 years ago) when I was in the prime of my martial art training, I would pound out 200 lunges in one session, and hardly even feel a burn.

But today, a decade and a half, two kids, one book and a much larger butt later, I felt defeated.

While I strained and shook, my inner voice took over saying:

“Can you imagine if your old students could see you now?”
“Will you ever get back to your old shape, or are those days gone?”
“You have too far to go, give up, it will be too hard.”

I realized that I had lost my mojo.

When you are at the top of your game in any aspect of your life – relationship, career, business, finance, health, fitness – you don’t think you will ever come down.

But you do.

You get laid off. Hit a really rough spot in the economy and stumble in your business.  Lose your marriage. Gain two pant sizes from stress and overwork. Get writer’s block. Lose a mentor. Get your heart broken.

And when you get through the rough patch and try to get back on your horse, if you stay focused on how great things used to be, you will give up before you even start.

Remember what you felt, not what you did.

At the beginning of anything great, there is a heated rush, excitement and flow. Think of a great romance in your life: in the first few weeks, you floated around with a big smile on your face, amazed at the generosity of the universe and the beauty of every living thing.

This is beginner mind.

It is the state of mind that will bring you back to excitement about the possibility of a new job, even if you have been unemployed for eighteen months. Or truly happy to go on a date, even if your husband ran away with his secretary. Or eager to sit in front of your computer and write your next book, even if the last one sold two hundred copies (unlike your first, which was a bestseller).

When I calmed my inner voices and tuned into my body this morning, I realized that it was saying:

“Thank you so much for using these long-neglected muscles!  We are so excited to get back into a zone of challenge and exertion. We cannot wait to run and jump and dance. You love to work out and will be strong and powerful again before you know it.”

Tonight at the American Music Awards, Whitney Huston was presented the award for  International Artist of the Year.  Anyone who has followed her career knows that after skyrocketing stardom, she fell deep in the pit of drugs, self-loathing and, well, Bobby Brown.

As she took the stage, dressed in a pure white gown and bathed in dramatic light that made her glow from behind, she sang her new song “I Didn’t Know My Own Strength.”

“I lost touch with my soul. I had nowhere to turn. I had nowhere to go.

I lost sight of my dreams. I thought it would be the end of me.

I thought I’d never make it through. I had no hope to hold on to.

I thought I would break. I didn’t know my own strength.

And I crashed down. And I tumbled. But I did not crumble.

I got through all the pain. I didn’t know my own strength.

Survived my darkest hour. My faith kept me alive. I picked myself back up. Held my head up high.

I was not built to break. I didn’t know my own strength.”

What I saw among the swelling music, makeup, glitzy production and flashing lights was something very sweet and simple.

Whitney found joy in singing again.

That’s how you get your mojo back.

Update: Thanks to my reader Steve (eighth comment below), we have a common definition of mojo. Personally, I should have said that I was using the Austin Powers definition, explained here by Dr. Evil:

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35 Responses to “How to get your mojo back”

  1. […] do I feel your pain! After an attempt to get my mojo back a few months ago, I slipped back into another period of poor diet and exercise habits. Finally, […]

  2. Joshua says:

    Thanks for writing this. I have been in and out of touch with my mojo over my life, and have recently been struggling with stoking that old flame back to its roaring burning form. You hit it right on the head; I was laid off, had to move and a relationship that I was head over heals for ended. It was all those things Whitney said and then some. I have been slowly getting back in touch with it. It being what I love to do, what brings joy and pleasure to my life. Working out, reading, writing,music, good food, friends, laughter, and being as creative as possible.

    Plus, on mine was : Passion in action and Passion in action

    That and my horoscope in local paper The Stranger read:

    Aquarius: Among Eastern religions, some traditions preach the value of getting rid of your desires. To be righteously attuned to current cosmic rhythms, however, I think you should rebel against that idea and instead cultivate a whole host of excellent desires. Use your imagination, please! Here are a few I highly recommend: a desire for a revelation or experience that will steer you away from becoming more like a machine, a desire for a fresh blast of purity from a primal source, a desire for an imaginary pet snake that teaches you how to be more playful with your libidinous energy, and a desire for a jolt of unexpected beauty that reminds you how important it is to always keep a part of your mind untamed.

  3. Heh fellow mojo reconnectors—
    Great to read your posts. I’m actually creating a movement of sorts, called TheMojoProject, to support people to reconnect or discover their mojo. I’m just completing a manifesto, and blog which will be launched soon. If interested in continuing an exploration on this topic, getting tools, and resources, please join me on Facebook TheMojoProject , OR we can connect via my business website at Would love to hear from you and get your feedback on what tools, resources and information would be helpful for you. I’m a certified coach and consultant passionate about supporting people to live with greater personal power, vitality, and fun. I’ve lost my mojo and ‘recovered’ it a few times in life. Most recently I lost 50+ lbs and 2010 promises to be a year of great mojo!

  4. […] Pamela Slim of Escape from Cubicle Nation knows we lose our mojo, but she also knows a bit on how to get it back: When you are at the top of your game in any aspect of your life – relationship, career, […]

  5. See, people do read old posts when they’re under your ‘favorites’ tab! I read this in November too, just wondered how your mojo is doing two months later. I’ve decided to do more of what I love this year, and that means exercise has to be fun. As a result, I’m doing more of it; yesterday my daughter and I walked twice around the local lake (it’s small) and did some press-ups, lunges, etc., using a park bench. We got a chance to chat, get some sun and catch up all at once – wonderful! I’ve also been walking the new puppy – not strenuous, but it gets me moving.

    Thanks for the great post.

  6. Lu says:

    I usually read other blogs and just make a casual note of what is said, but this really resonated with what is going on in my world.

    In essence “I need to get my mojo working” which looks very promising…

    However, we should all keep in mind that even if/and when we get our “mojo” back and working that doesn’t mean its going to work like before. The times we live in require that we fine tune ourselves a bit in order to get back into moving forward with our ambitions.

    The world is reinventing itself before our eyes therefore, we need to be flexible and embrace the change. Looking to check if where we are going is in alignment with our goals.

  7. Judy says:

    What great thoughts shared here by everyone. Rediscovering my mojo entails blocking everything external that is trying to remind me that I am not enough. I tell myself that this life is MINE; that no external opinion, force or power can take who I am from me. I am the co-Creator of my reality and I hold the power to create it by the thoughts I hold and the decisions I make…at that threshold point, I come to that great knowing that I am part of a vast and knowledgable Universe….that I am enough…that I am more than good enough because I AM.

  8. Pam, thank you! I am in the last few weeks of pregnancy with baby number three but only three months into creating my first blog. Every day I get a little more tired and a little more stressed about the chaos that is almost upon me (due 28th Dec!)…but your phrase “beginner mind” really struck a powerful chord. Since I started my blog I have woken up at 5:30am every morning, my beginner mind buzzing with excitement and anticipation and vision – and your reminder to stay in this zone will really help me to manage the little tugs that tempt me have a lie down instead of write! (Besides I have now bought a really fab laptop table so I can type in bed – sorted!)
    .-= Natalie The Tiny Soprano´s last blog ..Is Your Sacrifice Really Worth It? =-.

  9. Emma Newman says:

    Oh this is timely, I am currently in day ten of the flu, I have a huge backlog of work, feeling stressed, overwhelmed and like it will never be good again. Thanks for reminding me that recovery will happen, and what I need to remember to bring that about. x

  10. […] Slim of Escape from Cubicle Nation wrote a cool post called How to get your mojo back. It’s worth your […]

  11. We all lose certain parts of ourselves when we are too busy focusing on other people. We just can’t let the important stuff be on hold for too long.

    Our mojo is always there. Sometimes it’s just dormant and needs to be encouraged to be awake.

    Good for you on getting your mojo back.

  12. So true – right now I am seeing a lot of that. Not only the people who have lost their jobs – but also the people who see it coming. A great fear is pushing them to total inaction – they are frozen.

    How do you get your mojo back when it is anticipating the fall?

  13. Ana Connell says:

    Beautifully written! This post really resonated with me, I’m over 40 (we won’t specify by how much) and after a skiing accident and then a baby, my body is feeling the pain as I try to get back into shape.
    Never thought I would be here but life is a constant lesson and when I complain about the pain, my trainer always says “yeah, but it’s a good pain” and while that can be hard to embrace, he’s right!

  14. Luv how you take words that are “over used” and give them power again. I’ve had plenty of times in my life when my body has given out and I’m not what I was -months or even days ago. Illness and other things in life can do that to you. When I’m lost or sad, music lifts me. Mark Knoffler, Carly Simon, EmmyLou Harris to name a few lifts my spirit so I can get back in andPUNCH. We need these tools to get our “mojo” and then we need to know how to get there. The beginner’s mind opens us. In my latest post, I describe what I’ve learned some things from how I cook that I use in how I work – and visa versa. It’s all just a journey, isn’t it? .

  15. Conor Neill says:

    Jim Rohn says “life is opportunity mixed with difficulty”. It is true. Another quote that I don’t know where it came from but has been a great help at times “God would never give you an obstacle he didn’t know you were capable of overcoming”.

    (If there are no obstacles in my life I should be worried… There are days when I think surely its somebody else’s turn today? But no… it will never be somebody else’s turn to live my life)

  16. Been needed a little Mojo booster. Thanks for the shot in the arm.

  17. Thank you for such an amazing and well timed reminder, Pam – great post!
    .-= Andrew Parkes´s last blog ..The Launch: =-.

  18. John Sternal says:

    Oh how I long to get back to working out lol. I’ll say this: I definitely have a clear mindset at work when I’ve been working out. Thanks for a post filled with inspiration.

    John Sternal
    .-= John Sternal´s last blog ..Social Media For Small Business Advice =-.

  19. Wow, once again Pam, you nailed it. This phrase in particular really resonated with me, “…if you stay focused on how great things used to be, you will give up before you even start.” How true that is, and how easy it is to do during tough economic times like these. Here’s to seeing what all of us can do when we focus on calling forth our inner nuggets of joy. Happy Thankgiving, Pam!

  20. Mark Alves says:

    You never really lose your mojo. Sometimes you just have to know where to look for it. Thanks for the reminder!
    .-= Mark Alves´s last blog ..Thanksgiving and Advent Checklists for Church Websites =-.

  21. C.L. Fornari says:

    Yes, it’s the joy in doing what you’re doing, no matter what the outcome. That’s the mojo. Or mojoy.

  22. Thanks for the reminder! These things come in cycles in life.

  23. In 2003 I started out at 290lbs. I was an athlete in highschool and college by the way so it was depressing to be unable to run more than 5 minutes and I was embarrassed by the fact that I could bench no more than the bar itself. It took four years for me to get back in shape but I got there. You’re not alone. 🙂
    .-= Gal @ Look A Day´s last blog ..Hot In Black (Austin – November 19th, 2009) =-.

  24. Helen Coetzee says:

    Thank you Pam for making me see I am not the only one who has gone through this kind of thing…I didn’t think I had so much in common with Whitney Houston!!
    Seriously – I am so inspired now to get back my Mojo. But I also know I cannot expect too much too soon. One step at a time…

  25. Sherron says:

    How timely! I just had a setback in my recovery from a debilitating back injury after a ridiculous fight with attic stairs last week. Yes, the attic stairs finally did my bidding, but my back is most definitely not happy. That left me feeling defeated, stranded in “can’t I do ANYthing?” and “am I EVER going to be completely well?” land. Lost my mojo, for sure. But, after my chiro puts me back together this week, I’ll rededicate myself to healing, to getting stronger. I realize that’s what I do: I have setbacks, yes. I pout and throw temper tantrums, yes. But, I never give up. If I can’t go through, I’ll go around. There is a way. Thanks for the reminder, Pam!

  26. Mark Silver says:

    This is such a helpful reminder, Pam. I am definitely feeling like a beginner these days, in many ways. And without that all-too-familiar feeling of competence, it’s just not the same.

    Mojo. Gotta connect in with the mojo.
    .-= Mark Silver´s last blog ..The Role Model Lineup =-.

  27. Steve C says:


    Thought it may be of help to readers to know the definition of “mojo”, according to

    –noun, plural -jos, -joes.
    1. the art or practice of casting magic spells; magic; voodoo.
    2. an object, as an amulet or charm, that is believed to carry a magic spell.

  28. Beautiful and just what I needed today!
    I too am rebuilding my ‘workout mojo’ – after a soccer induced knee injury, 2 surgeries to repair it and a LONG recovery in which comfort food was…well…comfort. And recovery time was an excuse to indulge…it became time to stop complaining, looking for quick fixes and dwelling in the ‘what once was’ and pick myself up and create the me I want and can be in the here and now!

    And…I’m loving it – as long as I keep focused on the goal and the journey from here and relish the past as just part of the journey that it is.

    PS – personally, I am in love with Core Rhythms dance classes (men and women, all age and fitness ranges…it is a hard workout, but such fun to incorporate into your workout plan) AND, check out Clean Eating ( by Tosca Reno…I have all her cookbooks. The food is amazing and so good for you!

    Now is the time to create whatever we want our lives to be! For me – nurturing, a healthy body, mind and soul is top priority!

    Thanks, Pam…you rock!


  29. Hugh says:

    Great words for a Monday morning! I’m not a big Whitney Houston fan, but that’s a great story and some pretty cool lyrics in that song.

    I can relate to you with the exercising and getting your mojo back. I get the overwhelming feeling when I begin training for a new race or triathlon. At the beginning, there’s such a long way to go to reach your goal, but just knowing that you’ve done it before and know the path is reassuring in itself.
    .-= Hugh´s last blog ..What I’m Listening to Now – 5 Songs to Download for Your Next Workout =-.

  30. Kimmoy says:

    I really enjoyed seeing Whitney perform last night, I think everyone who watched was definitely touched by such profound lyrics; she has a great testimony and it was through God she found her strength. Amen!

    This post is so timely for me as I am too working on getting my mojo back not only with exercise but other things as well. It is that time of year when many of us tend to re-assess our goals and aim to do some things differently. Here’s to joyful holidays with loved ones to help us focus on the WHY of it all and a newfound mojo for where we want to be.

    BTW, Happy Thanksgiving Pam!
    .-= Kimmoy´s last blog ..Do the math and set a realistic financial goal =-.

  31. I’m amazed at the life lessons I learn at the gym – just like the one you describe here, Pam. Maybe it’s the need to think about something other than the pain in your glutes, but physical exercise sure promotes mental realization.

    Recently I’ve had these gym-inspired epiphanies:
    1. It’s likely you’ll look and feel foolish when you start something new
    2. You’re capable of more than you think
    3. It becomes easier when you think about the why.

    (FYI, they’re from this article

    M 🙂
    .-= Michele Connolly, Get Organized Wizard´s last blog ..Organize Your Online Life – And Raise Your Self Esteem In The Process =-.

  32. I’ve been walking an hour a day (as many days as I can) for the past few weeks.

    The thing I have to resist is the thoughts – this isn’t enough, you should be running, you should be going to the gym, you’re bad for letting it get this far… Blah blah.

    Tuning into the body rather than listening to thoughts – *this* might be a good instruction.

    Thanks for the reminder!
    .-= Andrew Lightheart @alightheart´s last blog ..Help! The Blogging Shoulds got me… =-.

  33. So true. Whitney lost herself in the fame and fortune of being a celebrity. And she nearly lost it all.

    She’s found, I would bet, that getting back to her roots, back to singing, just for the sake of singing, brings it’s own incredible high! When you learn that life can be it’s own high, I think you can more easily eliminate other unhealthy highs….

    Finding and living your passion…. what a concept! 😉
    .-= John Jaworski´s last blog ..I’m having a love affair and my Wife doesn’t know…. =-.

  34. Karen Frechou says:

    Have been warming up my fitness mojo all weekend starting with some very long walks. Thanks for the reminder of where it comes from!