Salespeople whose sales are beginning to fall off often decide that the fault lies anywhere but with themselves. They blame their boss, their customers or even their spouse. And the more they think about it, the more they sink into self-pity. They work less and complain more than ever. They may find themselves at the movies, race track, or the local bar.

The problem is usually burnout. Too many salespeople push themselves to the brink instead of setting a pace that they enjoy and can produce at.

Some of us are unable to see this problem coming and when it occurs, we don't recognize it. We try to keep ourselves physically in shape, but we never do much about our mental toning. We all need the continual toning of our outer- and inner-selves. It takes some time to analyze where we are and the direction we are going and to make decisions as to where we want to be.

Most of us have written goals for our career and personal lives, but do your goals include what you will do to improve your mental and physical state?

We all need to get some down time, time to think things through and make sure this is the direction we want. Most of us are not introspective enough. We spend our lives wanting to please others. We may be outgoing or feel that self-indulgence is a weakness. When we do relax, we do it as part of creating a business relationship. If we go to a ballgame, we take along a customer. We play golf and fish with our customers. My point is that we need to get away from the daily routine and enjoy some time with personal friends or family. It's OK to spend some time thinking about ourselves.

Get a hobby

In my seminars, I have had many salespeople who say their life is their job. We used to call them workaholics. Some people used to say "What a blessing to enjoy your work so much that it is your life." But most of these people burn out and are unable to recover their lives.

You must develop other interests away from your work. The more detailed the hobby, the better. It will take your mind away from your job and help clear out the cobwebs. I have a friend who has several hobbies. Each is very involved and requires much time. He likes to write poetry. He's not very good at it, but likes that it gives him a way to express his ideas and thoughts. He also enjoys physical activities such as bicycle riding, walking, gardening and golfing. Each of these activities requires much time to reflect, and he finds peace in their ability to make him answer his own questions. He also likes to carve wood, because he gets to see the finished product and feel a sense of accomplishment.

This may seem to you like a lot of outside activities. You may wonder where does he get the time? I asked him once.

"I don't do all these activities at the same time nor in the same month," he said. "I may find I like to wood carve and do that for several weeks, then not pick up a knife for months. I like the variety so that I don't become bored with any one thing."

The point here is to find some things away from work that will allow you to relax and have a change of pace.

During the last few years, I have asked students in some of my selling classes what they do to relax. Here's a list: golfing, fishing, writing, mountain biking, reading, television, attending sports activities, working out, walking. The list goes on and on. The idea is to find your fun thing to do and do it.

When things are going sour, don't let them get worse by default. Step back and evaluate yourself. Take stock of yourself and your life away from work. You need time to build your confidence, refuel your energy and refresh your mind. Do yourself a favor and try it.