009: 3 Ways To Overcome Overwhelm
You haven't come this far just to come this far.
That's what a mentor told me, not that long ago when I was completely overwhelmed.
Welcome to Action Taker Tribe. I'm Jo Ingram, and today's episode is all about overwhelm. You know, the way you feel where you just can't focus and you can't get anything done. And it's hardly a surprise because as new entrepreneurs building our heart-centered businesses for the first time, we're suddenly overwhelmed with all the things we have to do.
Like social media - I don't know how busy you find yourself on social media and whether you find it overwhelming. But not that long ago, I hadn't even used Instagram for anything other than posting a couple of snaps of the kids, you know, every few months. And suddenly I had to learn Instagram for the first time as a business owner and think about how to build in daily content, how to use it as a fantastic platform to really express the sort of things that my business was about and talk to my ideal clients.
And not only Instagram, suddenly it's Facebook, Facebook business pages, Facebook groups. Now I'm also on LinkedIn and I'm working on content that’s slightly different for that every single day. And I can certainly feel my heart quicken because I'm thinking of all the things I have to do. I don't know if you ever feel like that because it's not only social media, is it? It's all the things. That's just one aspect of building and scaling our businesses. And the majority of us are also first-time business owners and solopreneurs, we're working alone. So we're in a situation where we have to make so many decisions and they're really important decisions for us because there's so much at stake.
We really want our businesses to be successful - ideally sooner rather than later. So overwhelm is just a natural consequence of all of this stuff piling on as we're doing it and trying to be successful.
So how does overwhelm show up? Well, mostly it shows up in a form of self-sabotage, right? It's like with the time we're moving outside of our comfort zone, we're really trying to level up. And yet there's something pulling us saying, you're not good enough. You just haven't got the self-confidence to do this. And it's self-sabotaging self-defeating that basically we get that level of overwhelm, which means we just don't want to move forward.
I don't know if it's a fear of failure. I think sometimes with me, it might even be a fear of success. It's bizarre. Right?
Sometimes looking behind the overwhelm, you suddenly realize it's not just ‘I've got a lot to do’, it’s that I don't necessarily believe that I can do it.
So pulling back out of fear is never, ever going to be the way forward and take a moment and just think to yourself, what is it that's holding me back.
And is it something that I really need to feel? Is it serving me because the chances are, of course it is not. So let's have a little move forward today and see the overwhelmed for what it is. If it's a fear-based thing holding you back.
But there are three other ways that it shows up in three things we can do about it. So let me break it down for you.
The first one is what I call the hyper Action Taker self-sabotage. And this is me all over it's when you actually create the overwhelm for yourself and literally set ourselves up to fail. Do you ever have high expectations that are actually unrealistic? You put timelines in place that you just can't achieve and you feel completely over committed. Ah, hello? Yup. That's me down to a T in fact, it even came up last week because I'd been working on this podcast really hard.
And I set myself a launch date, which was literally at the same time that I had timelined developing my program for January. I was like, suddenly I wanted to do it all. And I set up these dual timelines and said, yup, I can do this. And it was only because I had some really great trusted advisors, including my husband, raise their eyebrows and say to me, are you serious? Why are you putting yourself through this? And I was literally putting myself through it. I set it up like some grueling torture chamber of work, where only I had the power to both set it up and dismantle this silly structure, which is exactly what I did. And I decided to just work on the podcast and the program can wait because really it needs my full attention and focus, not this overwhelmed unpleasant energy coming into it.
I want it to be absolutely brilliant. I don't want it to be something rushed. And even more importantly, I don't want to feel bad about my work because we're doing this because we want to love our work and we want to feel lit up. And when you put yourself under that amount of pressure, you don't feel lit up. It feels really difficult. And in fact, even, by the end of a week, I would make myself feel unwell by Thursday or Friday, just because I'd overdone it in the earlier days, which is completely ridiculous. And I'm having to learn how to balance so much better. And it's all about taking a moment of calm.
I often say that clarity comes from action, but there is the odd time where I will take that back. And this is one of those times. And I'll actually say that clarity comes from calm.
When you get yourself into this hyper action taker stage, as I've just described, you just need to breathe. In fact, I'm just going to do that. Now that's so much better if I can concentrate. Because even when you think about this stuff, it just winds you up. And so it's so much nicer to take a moment to breathe and to feel calm and create that balance between your work and your on the rest of your life, whether that's with your kids or whether that's your self care. For me, I love to do yoga. And at one point I'd even said, Oh, I haven't got time for yoga because I just have to commit to my work, which thankfully I'm out of that phase now - it's so much nicer to build something in. This week I'm going to do some reflexology, which I absolutely love.
Now we've come out of lockdown and we can go and get those treatments again. I think it's really important to take that time and try and rebalance where you're coming from. And from a practical point of view, the wonderful Mel Robbins has a video on this. It's a really good tip. She describes your head overflowing like a glass of water. If you imagine you just keep pouring tasks in, imagine a glass of water and you're pouring in from a jug and it's reached the top and now it's overflowing and even more. And that's exactly what our brains are like when we just keep piling more and more on. And we start of course, to feel really, really overwhelmed.
Simply do this exercise and get a piece of paper and you write everything down and you don't stop till everything is out of your head. Everything that you've got to do, everything you're worried about everything that's causing you to feel overwhelmed. When you finish writing everything down and you can make this list as long as you like, you get your highlighter pen and you pick three, nothing else.
You just pick three. And they are the things that you have decided are ‘mission critical’ right now.
And everything else can wait.
And then simply move forward with a clear head, knowing that you're only going to focus on those three things. Okay.
The second result of feeling overwhelmed is procrastination. Are you one of the procrastinators that when you feel overwhelmed, you just simply don't know what to do next? Or maybe you just sink into doing way more analysis or research because you feel like you don't know enough? Which of course boils down to not feeling good enough, which seems to be the underlying theme for so many of these limiting beliefs that stop us moving forward and building our businesses. It's where you just can't make the decision. James Clear is the author that wrote Atomic Habits and he talks about how you have this vision for your future self. Say, for example, I want to build a phenomenal, run great programs, do amazing coaching, create phenomenal impact, build profitable businesses and so on.
However, your present self is just looking for satisfaction in the moment. So I want all of that, but I really don't want to concentrate right now. I don't want to do the deep work. I really wanted to maybe watch TV or scroll on there, scroll through my social media or any of the other distractions because your present self just isn't invested enough in doing right now, what your future self wants for the vision.
So the solution to that is to make the pain of procrastination in the present to set up structure where you reward yourself only after you start the difficult thing. And it turns out of course, that starting the hard thing is way harder than actually doing the hard thing. You know, the way that once you actually start, it isn't as hard, but actually getting yourself motivated enough to make a start can often be the hardest thing. So offer yourself a reward or even a punishment that you won't get to do something you really want to do if you don't start it because we do have control over how we act.
If you fallen into this procrastination zone, just take an action. Even a small action moves you past that fear and doubt. So make your choice, pick something to start on. It's not as important what it is as making a start in general, of course you can prioritize later, but getting yourself out of that procrastination zone is the most important thing right now. And it's like, have you ever heard that ‘How do you eat an elephant?’ One bite at a time, just take one bite or the first step of a thousand mile journey, whatever it might be. And however you'd like to visualize it, just take one step. You don't need to fill the overwhelm of the entire journey, just see the first step. And of course the subsequent steps will just literally reveal themselves as you move forward. And it will be far, far more effortless than it feels when you're in that overwhelmed state.
My third tip about overcoming overwhelm is to change your self-talk. Buddha said what we believe we become. And when we keep telling ourselves that we can't no wonder, we just sit feeling overwhelmed and not leveling up and building our businesses as we dream we would. So say to yourself, instead of ‘I can't change it’ to ‘I can’, or ‘I am’. You literally do have a choice not to feel overwhelmed.
The wonderful Jasmine star said:
Overwhelm is the abundance we asked for.
How awesome is that quote? Because it literally says the reason we're overwhelmed is because we are the ones who are choosing to build our businesses. Instead of sitting in whatever job we were stuck in previously, or not really moving towards something that lights us up and is our passion.
We've chosen the difficult road, the road that isn't necessarily given to us on a plate. We have to create it for ourselves. Doesn't have to be difficult though, because we are the lucky ones. We are the lucky ones and it's all that stuff about gratitude.
Let's just be grateful for the problem of overwhelm because it means we're leveling up.
It means we're doing, what's been bubbling up inside of us for so long. And here it is. And all we have to do is take that step forward and we can make it real. So I'd like to invite you to take the opportunity, to feel grateful for your overwhelm. Feel grateful for the opportunities that it's offering you and the fact that because of this overwhelm, you're going to step into discomfort and overcome it and build the business that you've always dreamed of building. So those three things to overcome overwhelm again, are take a breath and get calm and clear next, take action, pick something, anything, and make a start. And thirdly, believe you can do it. I hope that's going to help you move forward this week. Have an action filled week! I'll speak to you soon. Bye now.