How to Overcome Overwhelm

“Overwhelm” – a word that has become very common these days. Instead of being used to describe when we overwhelm someone else, it has come to mean the state of mind/emotion in which we find ourselves entirely too often!

I know that when I have felt that way, it has felt that I was being controlled by forces outside of me. In reality, though, we can trace the circumstances back to a choice that we made somewhere along the line.

Some of us make commitments to be involved with organizations or serve on the board of a worthwhile group. We may agree to help a family member. We add that on top of taking the kids to after-school events. The networking groups we join want us on their leadership teams. The list can get very long, and it all adds up and stacks up on our shoulders. The resulting load becomes a load on our psyche, too.

So, how do we find our way out of the tangle of intertwining commitments? A good way to begin is by taking time to uncover the vision and dreams we have for ourselves. The tangled web has covered them up; now, it’s time to unearth them, dust them off and give them a spit and polish.

Once you’ve gotten clear on the vision, it becomes much easier to sort through the activities and commitments to see which ones align best. How does serving on the board fit with your vision? How much business do you get from the networking group? How much do you enjoy spending time with people you’ve developed relationships with in these organizations?

Take a look at the activities you choose to spend your time on. How many of them actually contribute directly, or have a high potential of contributing, to your vision? How many could you actually let go of and still feel on track?

Remember that the vision I’m talking about here is about more than your work. A complete vision needs to include our family, friends and spirituality or religion and anything else that really matters to us.

Consider focusing your time and energy on the highest-payback activities and organizations, and see how that changes your life.

Coach’s Challenge:

Give yourself some time this week – per the adage “pay yourself first”. Schedule a one-hour slot into your calendar. Then, take a pen and paper with your cuppa somethin’ and find a relaxing, favorite haunt. Take this time to describe, on paper, 5 to 10 aspects of your ideal life. Think about where you live, who lives with you, what your work is, who you hang out with, what your financial situation is, what your family relationships are like, and any other aspects of your life that come to mind. Write with as much detail as you can, so that you begin to create a movie of your Ideal Life.

Now, comes the next step – look at your calendar and the activities you spent time on in the last week. Calculate the percentage of the activities that directly contributed to or advanced you toward some aspect of your vision. Surprised? Maybe, it’s time to change some things, or clear the clutter in your calendar and in your mind…

Suggested Resources:

People often ask me for resources I recommend. One of my favorite books on sorting through priorities and focusing on what is most meaningful to us, is Brian Tracy’s “Focal Point”. A great read and a great resource for working through the process.

Brian Tracy’s “Focal Point” (Karen’s Amazon Store)

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