Dealing with Overwhelm in Your Business
If you have a very full business and personal life like I do you may be facing that common dream stealer: Overwhelm. Are you finding yourself more interested in the state of your house-cleaning or the mess on your desk than your business? If so, then you have met the overwhelm monster!
Overwhelm arrives when one or more of these conditions exist:
1. You feel inadequate, stupid, incapable or otherwise self-destructive
2. The task in front of you is too big and your brain can't wrap itself around it
3. You have over-scheduled yourself
4. Your subconscious has not yet solved the problem at hand
5. Your emotional life has taken over and you are on a roller coaster
6. Unexpected events have snatched up all your time, thoughts and emotions (i.e. a death in the family)
7. Whatever I didn't think of that contributes to overwhelm
The down side of this is that your dreams are stolen by this monster. I know. Its happened to me. And this is one monster who no longer steals my life force!
Lets talk strategy. You know when you are no longer on track. And you know when overwhelm is the culprit. So what do you do? First, get honest. Name it. "I am in overwhelm." Notice I did not say 'I *am* overwhelmed!' You are not your feelings. You experience them. You are in the state of 'overwhelm'. See the difference? Remember, our subconscious mind loves to do what we direct it to do. So be careful of that self talk!
Now that you have identified 'The State of Overwhelm' you have power. What do you need to do about it? Looking at the list above the solutions may be pretty obvious. So lets solve each one.
1. You Feel Inadequate, Stupid, Incapable or Otherwise Self-Destructive
Nothing like tackling the biggest first! I grew up feeling bad about myself for no apparent reason. No surprise, I was raised in a dysfunctional family. As a result, I needed to actively develop healthy self-talk to counteract my natural tendency to self-destruct.
An example of negative self-talk that relates to your business could be feeling that others are out there doing what you want to do. And you decide that what you have to offer just isn't good enough.
In my case, there are many businesses out there on how to be successful on the Internet. My first inclination was to decide that its already been done and by others more qualified than me. Therefore, why bother starting this business?
What I did was look at the work of my competitors and see what it was that I could do differently. I found businesses that had some great material on Internet businesses but none that were very good at providing one-on-one assistance to their customers. So lucky for all of us, I went ahead, said thank you to the little voice in my head that was telling me I wasn't good enough, and created this program. In other words, I did it anyway.
How else does one get around that negative, destructive voice in the head? One of my favorite ways to deal with this is to listen to my destructive self-talk and write up the opposite. If I am feeling stupid and inadequate I write something like: "I am intelligent and capable. I have all the resources I need right here inside me." Then I go to the mirror. Every day for 28 days I will spend one minute looking at myself in the mirror and telling myself all the great things I can think of. "You are an intelligent and resourceful woman. You have everything you need to achieve your dreams. You are beautiful, smart, sexy and funny and I love you!" Try it, it really works!
If you can't face the mirror, write it for 5 minutes. Do it every day no matter what. And believing those nice things you just said is *not* required. In fact, you probably won't believe it. If you did, you wouldn't be saying bad things to yourself. Try this one! You will be amazed at the results.
The opinions we hold about ourselves, both good and bad, just aren't worth much. Our self-talk comes from our past experiences. Who we were then and what we once did has little relationship to who we are today. Each of us decides our own destiny. And our internal dialog mastery is the way we achieve it!
2. The Task in Front of You Is Too Big and Your Brain Can't Wrap Itself around It
This is a very common reason for overwhelm. My favorite phrase for overwhelm in general is: "The solution to overwhelm is focus." This one gets me through more often than anything else. If I am avoiding my projects I go here first.
Make a list!! Get that stuff out of your head and down on paper. Our brains will swim around and around when they are trying to make sense of too much. By making a list and recording all the things the brain is trying to manage, everything relaxes. Now you can focus on one of the tasks on the list at a time.
Review the last task you were working on. Or research one small piece on the internet. By digging into one small task you will often find yourself moving on and doing much more than you thought possible.
Break the tasks down to a smaller size. Pretty obvious isn't it? Yet in the midst of overwhelm it is easier to clean the desk than to look at the work. Grab a 'cuppa' and sit down. Breathe and just look at it. Ask yourself how you can break it down into smaller pieces. Do it a section at a time.
This form of overwhelm is simple to solve. You just need to catch yourself and take action.
3. You Have Over-Scheduled Yourself
Wow! We can all relate to this one, right? There is a lot out there on this. Time management books and programs abound. And the obvious solution is to say no and/or reschedule your way back to sanity.
But lets look at this within the context of your business. Are you avoiding your project by over-scheduling? You may be stuck in Overwhelm Problem #1 and over-scheduling as a way to bypass feeling bad about yourself. Check inside and see if this is true.
Take a priority break. Go back and review why you are doing this in the first place. If you are drifting away, you may need to reconnect to your "ideal life" and re-prioritize your business back to where it belongs.
4. Your Subconscious Has Not yet Solved the Problem at Hand
This one is tricky. It can look like over-scheduling and other symptoms of overwhelm. In my life it looks like playing computer games when I know I have lots of other important things to do. Sometimes it looks like 'avoidance behaviors': My house needs cleaning, my desk is impossibly messy, that novel must be read today.
One of the ways I work with this is to go back to a simple task I did the day before and review it. This usually will solve the problem. I still feel good about working on my project and my mind still gets the space it needs to do the next step.
Another great way to work with this is to take play breaks. I often take myself out to look at art, go for a walk, work out in the gym; something physical. My conscious mind loves the stimulation while my subconscious mind gets to work.
The important thing to remember is to not beat yourself up for non-performance. My subconscious is working all the time on these projects. And there are just times when I am not ready to tackle the scheduled business task. My self-talk says "I am sharp and productive all the time. And I am on target to get my project done!"
5. Your Emotional Life Has Taken over and You Are on a Roller Coaster
6. Unexpected Events Have Snatched up All Your Time, Thoughts and Emotions (i.e. a death in the family)
These 2 are very similar and have the same solutions.
Today I am feeling out of sorts. I struggled to get out of the door. My spouse is not happy with me. I am not happy with me. I don't want to be here. And I don't want to be working on my Internet income. I had a minor spat with my spouse. I left my glasses at home and everything is blurry. My head is hurting. I am exhausted. Emotionally, this is a rough day. And here I am. Writing about how to get through emotional overwhelm. So how did I do it?
I started out by showing up. I decided that showing up was my greatest win for the day. If I got anything done at all I was ahead of the game. And I must admit, being here writing to you is a real stretch. (Thank heavens for later editing to make this good!)
I started out by editing. I went over yesterday's work. I made some changes. And slowly found myself with something to say. Sometimes all that happens is a review of the previous day's work. Or maybe I go back to my task list and re-read it and expand on that.
Thus, today I am managing to make real progress. Itís just more evidence that my self-talk has no basis in truth or reality. If I had listened to the inner dialog, I would be back at home with my head under the covers. Itís that kind of day.
Sometimes the best we can do is show up.
How about when there is death or near death in the family or some other traumatic event? Letís face it, there are just some things more important than your business. Go take care of your family/self and don't worry about it. Your subconscious mind will be working away while you take care of the business of life. Just be sure to know the difference between real trauma and situations where you are merely inventing an internal drama to avoid working on your business.
7. Whatever I Didn't Think of That Contributes to Overwhelm
If you think of anything I missed, let me know. A link to my website should be below. I love to create coping strategies for anything!
The bottom line is to stay true to the vision you hold for your business. Don't let anything stand in your way!