You have a big goal, a clear vision, and you can see your final destination in the distance, but it´s oh. so. far. away......in the distance. Fear creeps in, bringing with it anxiety, apprehension and a large dose of procrastination for good measure. And boom you´re paralyzed. Welcome to overwhelm hell, where dreams come to die. It happens to the best of us, we get really clear on what we want and where we want to go and all of a sudden we remember where we are and it all just seems too much. We want to crawl into bed, put on Netflix and forget we were so ridiculous to dream such big, impossible dreams.
Before you resign yourself to a life of sweatpants and Netflicks grab a hot beverage, take a deep breath and read on.
I got to know overwhelm hell intimately when I decided to become a professional life coach. It was my big dream. Getting certified was the easy part, it was the professional part that caused all the trouble. I didn´t know where to start, I would look at where I was I and where I wanted to be and I felt unable to bridge the gap. I wanted to give up many times. I had no idea how to run a business, attract clients and actually get paid. I had the skills and training I needed to be of service to the world in a way that would create a huge impact, I was mentally and emotionally ready to put myself out there and work with others who were ready to realize their dreams and aspirations and take huge steps on the path of self-actualization but I had absolutely no idea how to connect those skills with the people who would benefit from them. And it was hell and I frequently got overwhelmed. But I knew I had to keep going which meant I needed to conquer the feelings and here´s what I learnt along the way.
Firstly, we need to recognize overwhelm hell for what it is; a temporary state that causes a lot of discomfort and prevents us from moving forward. It sucks to be in this space, but you have the power to move out of it, here are 8 tips to get you back on track.
Take a Break
The first thing to do when you feel overwhelm creeping in is take a short break, this can be as little as 5 minutes or however long you need to unplug from the source of stress and anxiety. Making the conscious decision to move away from what you´re doing is the first step in regaining your power. Go for a walk, take a shower or put on some music and dance it off, whatever works to break the cycle and allows you to reconnect to your body. Indulge in something that gives you pleasure, it doesn’t have to be costly, but do it mindfully and you will soon notice a shift in your perspective.
Let Go of Perfectionism
Perfectionism kills progress, let the damn thing go, Perfect doesn´t exist, we are human beings having a human experience we are here to learn and grow and improve and until we accept that, we are allowing anxiety and unhappiness in when we could be developing our skills, building confidence and having some fun along the way. Releasing perfection gives greatness an opportunity to present itself.
Adjust your Focus
When you are aiming high you need to learn how to move your focus from the big picture to the details and back again. When we are overwhelmed we tend to look at the big picture and all the details at the same time. It is important to keep the end in sight but focus on the next thing you need to do to get closer to your goal. If you want to lose 20 kilos, take it one kilo at a time. if you want to build a business focus on one client or customer at a time, if you want to run a marathon ( I will never understand that one but each to their own) start running 1 km at a time, if you want to raise healthy children take it one meal time battle at a time. What is one thing you can do today to move closer to your goal today? Do that.
If you want to completely change your life you can, but big dreams take a big commitment, they take time and energy and sometimes it´s hard. There will be times that want to give up and get into bed and eat chocolate, and that´s okay. Allow yourself those moments but don´t allow them to stretch beyond moments. Cultivating self-compassion goes a long way to easing the challenges that change brings. Today´s best is not the same as yesterday’s best or tomorrow's, when you practice self-compassion you are giving yourself the best possible chance of success.
Change and achieving goals take time, behind every overnight success there is a lot of hard work, plenty of self-doubt and a little bit of failure thrown in for good measure. There may be set-backs and delays, accept it and be patient with yourself and the process.
Be your own Cheerleader
Identify milestones and celebrate them, this allows you to recognize your progress. Progress can get overlooked when you are moving towards a big goal, we have the tendency to focus on what’s left to do and ignore everything we have achieved so far so it’s important to look back and see how far you have come. When I coach clients we start every call identifying the wins that they have had since our last call, this allows them to recognize what they have achieved, to really become conscious of their progress and celebrate their wins big and small. What wins can you celebrate today?
Plan and Prioritize
I used to be a big fan of to-do lists, and I still get a kick out of ticking things off, but now I use a plan and prioritise list and it has been a game changer. When I started using a P&P list I discovered that I wasn’t prioritising things as effectively as I had thought and as a result was giving way too much energy and head space to things that were not even that important, so now I plan and prioritise all my big tasks, if it’s a small task I do it and get it out of the way. Planning involves estimating how much time an item on my list will take, how important it is, when I want to have it done by and what kind of support I need to achieve it. Grab your P&P printable below.
Ask for Help
A lot of independent, ambitious people make the mistake of trying to do everything themselves, not a smart move. If you want to make it you will need help, so you might as well get into the habit of asking for it. Asking for help comes in many forms, it could mean outsourcing the things you 're not good at or don't enjoy so you can really focus your energy on your gifts, talents and passions or it could mean hiring a coach to help you get clear on your goals and hold you accountable or finding a mentor so you can become proficient in new areas, for some it’s finding a tribe of like-minded people to go to for support and encouragement. Sometimes it can be as simple as asking for a little more help around the house, so you can focus on other things. If asking for help is difficult for you, make a commitment to seek out some extra support this week, no matter how small.
One last thing -remember you have got this!! Sometimes we forget how capable we are and you are!
Do you have any other tips for dealing with overwhelm? Share them in the comments.