When I am talking to my coaching clients about finding and pursuing their purpose and passion, we regularly come up against the dreaded enemy – overwhelm.
Overwhelm is basically like a feeling of drowning in too much of something. You’ll feel things like anxiety, apathy, indecision, and also a desire to procrastinate, avoid or give up!
When looking to change your career direction or start a new business, overwhelm tends to be caused by too much thinking or too much information.
That’s because, in order to make a transition like this, there simply is lots of new information to get your head around; lots of thinking to do about all this new information; and lots of macro and micro decisions to make!
It’s no wonder overwhelm is so common.
Not sure if you are experiencing overwhelm?
Check out these common symptoms:
Thoughts cascading. Ideas piling on top of ideas. Heart racing. Mind blurring. Eyes glaze over. Can’t think anymore. Shut down.
We don’t usually need someone to tell us. We know the feeling of overwhelm.
And if the overwhelm wasn’t bad enough, consider the ensuing inaction, distraction, hopelessness and apathy that it can create. I know people who have lost years to a cycle of overwhelm and apathy.
There are just so many choices.
Seemingly unlimited options.
Nope, too hard! Let’s just forget the whole thing!
Added to that can be pressure: time pressure, pressure from within, pressure from others, real world pressure like closing dates for enrolments or applications.
Overwhelm makes us feel like we are drowning.
Whilst this might seem like a disturbing analogy, its actually very, very helpful because we can mentally and physically understand the seriousness of drowning and what we need to do to survive it. We can also have compassion for the understandable panic and frenzied action that we go through at times like this.
So let’s look at how this analogy can help us beat overwhelm.
Imagine you were drowning.
What’s the first thing you must do?
Get your head above water, right? Well, that’s the same as step one, Becoming Aware: Before you can change anything you have to notice it, so notice you are feeling overwhelmed. Do this by studying the signs of overwhelm (above).
Once your head is above water, then, automatically and emphatically, you Breathe It’s a reflex. Whew, I’m up for air. The breath centres you and wakes up your parasympathetic nervous system (relaxation centre), which shuts down anxiety. If you are feeling overwhelmed, take a few deep breaths, or better yet, go for a 30-minute walk somewhere peaceful, breathing consciously the whole time. Because as Jim Kwik says “As your body moves, your brain grooves.”
When you have yourself back under control – you next need to Clarify Your Objective – What you were trying to achieve before overwhelm set in? Were you reviewing your finances, looking into study options, trying to determine what to name your new business, figuring out marketing funnels?? Get your objective down on paper in the simplest language you can.
Then Chunkify – which simply means break your goals into bitesize pieces. A big job is easier to deal with in smaller parts. In our analogy, this is shifting our focus from the danger we are in, or the distant shore, to the step-by-step level of action that will get us to safety; aka swimming one stroke at a time back to shore. If we focus on the shore, it will seem a very long way away, and we might get pulled back into panic, which saps our strength and focus.
Finally, Take Action. Stroke. Stroke. Stroke. Focus on the first stroke, then the second, then the third. Trust that each stroke, if executed well, will take you to your destination. The actions need to be so small that there is no barrier to starting them. And you need to stay aware, keep breathing and centre yourself emotionally. Try breaking your goal into 10 smaller steps.
Here are those steps again:
1. Become Aware
3. Clarify Your Objective
5. Take Action
Not sure on your overall direction?
Don’t worry, you can change course along the way. Look up, make sure you are still on course. Maybe your objective has changed (instead of getting to shore, you might see a paddle board closer and decide to swim for that! Taking action doesn’t have to lock you in to the final destination – you are free to stop and reevaluate at any time.
Keep taking meaningful action and before you know it! Boom! That task is done! This will give you a massive confidence boost to tackle your next goal.
To your success,
Copyright 2018 Michelle McClintock. All rights reserved.