I’ve been writing about it for years. I coach clients on this topic every week. I watch colleagues fizzle under its pressure. Business owners are run by it. Everyone reacts to it ungracefully. It’s running rampant in the world.
It’s called overwhelm.
Overwhelm is a perspective, not a thing that comes and gets you out of nowhere. All overwhelm is self-imposed.
Now, overwhelm is no stranger to me. I’ve experienced it in extreme quantities in my business and my personal life. I went through several coaches who tried to have me implement time management strategies to cope with the overwhelming thoughts of all I had to do to keep my business running. It didn’t work. In fact, it made me more stressed. I thought, “I must really be a failure. I’m doing what my coach is telling me and I still feel like I’m going to have a heart attack.”
Guess what? The coaches’ advice only gave me half of the equation to my solution. No strategy in the world was going to kill off the feeling of overwhelm if I didn’t change my beliefs about what “had” to get done. I also had to look inside myself to see what I thought made up my definition of success in business and as a woman in general.
Some of the beliefs I had to chuck out the window were:
Before I leave on a trip, the entire house needs to be cleaned.
My success hinges on being able to check off everything on my to do list.
I have to have a “perfect” website in order to attract ideal clients and reach my targeted income.
I have to attend every networking meeting and follow up on every lead, even if I don’t want to.
I must read all of the latest business and personal growth books and attend seminars whenever possible in order be successful.
If the big dogs in my industry do something, I must follow their lead, even if it’s uncomfortable.
When having a party I have to have a theme, make at least a dozen dishes, have fabulous party favors and really WOW my guests.
I HAVE to make several types of cookies, wrap them in elegant packaging and hand deliver to ALL of my friends that I don’t buy gifts for during the holidays.
I must buy everyone I love gifts for their birthday and holidays so that they know how much I appreciate them.
Phew! I’m overwhelmed just thinking about all the things I used to believe! No wonder I was having a hard time.
The sure fire way to break the habit of overwhelm, and it IS a habit, is to focus on the essence of the desired end result and create strategies for flow. For instance, I used to go to networking meetings to get new clients. The essence of what I wanted was to meet new people and attract clients that I loved. Were there other ways to get that outcome without attending several meetings and cold calling leads? Of course!
I decided to only attend my favorite meeting and followed up on warm leads only. I loved the networking group I chose and felt no pressure to be a hard sell. I ended up coaching many of the group members over the years as a result. I even threw away a six-inch stack of leads that had been sitting by the phone for months that made me feel like a procrastinating loser.
I then let go of the belief that networking needed to be my main avenue of attracting clients and they came in by the bucket load from referrals and my website. Trusting that you will get your desired outcome without being attached to a specific process or strategy will ease overwhelm in a jiffy.
Investigate what beliefs, actions and habits are creating your state of overwhelm. Notice what triggers your overwhelm. Then begin creating new rules about what it means to be a success. If I’m enjoying what I’m doing, with no pressure, I’m a success. Period.