How to combat being overwhelmed and the feeling of 'can't be f..ked'Jun 24, 2021
I had no intention of writing a post about this, but a good friend put up a Facebook post about feeling overwhelmed and what started as a casual response to share some practical thoughts ended up turning into this longer article.
At the moment there is this sort of 'low fog' of overwhelm, anxiety or languish that is floating around everyone's legs and I think we all get the sense that it is slowly creeping it's way up, and that it's going to end up consuming us . For some of us maybe the fog is already doing that.
Side Note: Want a great article on languish that is gaining a lot of traction right now? Check out There’s a Name for the Blah You’re Feeling: It’s Called Languishing by Adam Grant)
So how do we combat this feeling of life overwhelm? Too many emails, too many social media accounts, texts, calls, follow up engagements, social events, forgetting to reply to friends, business opportunities, family, unfinished personal projects, books, house chores, are you feeling me yet?
Before I get into some of my practical thoughts on the matter, I want to put in a little disclaimer that after spending the last 15 years of my life listening to some of the most highly educated and successful people constantly complain about their lives without actually doing anything about it, the truth is: unless you take action to change your situation, it ain't getting better. To turn this around you will need to make some potentially massive decisions to reduce the noise and start living and feeling the way you want to. There might even be some financial implications, as you will see in my first example. Are you willing to take some money off the table in order to sleep better at night? Or spend time with your most valuable relationship?
I don't want to come off sounding like I think that you're stupid and that this is all your fault, but I would be doing you a disservice if I just told you to pat yourself on the head, give yourself a hug and all will be ok. I need to cut in enough for you to be inspired to take action and makes some changes.
Here are some questions and thoughts that I think are worth exploring:
1. I have a choice. We all have a choice
We can get out of this situation pretty much instantly if we truly wanted to. If my business is constantly overwhelming me, is it even worth me running it? I know I could get a high paying job within a week. No one forced me to struggle to pay my mortgage last year while I was out of work through COVID. I could have sold the house. I had the choice. No one forced me to work late at night and miss having dinner with my wife. I chose to for years, and then one day I decided the money wasn't worth it, my wife was. I had the choice.
What can you just choose to stop or start doing right now that would make your life better? Are you going to just think about it or actually do it? Take action now.
2. Am I already standing on top of the mountain of LIFE?
Instead of looking at the beautiful view I'm spending my time struggling to climb a greased pole at the top because I think the view is going to be better. Stop. Have a look around, your life is already amazing. Why are you allowing all this extra nonsense in your life while you try and squeeze the last couple of drops of juice out of it? My 92 year old client never tells me to work harder, or push myself, or strive for greatness. He always tells me, 'enjoy every moment'. This man made an extremely large fortune over his lifetime, so I take what he tells me with great interest. How are you enjoying your life? What is the view like on the top of your mountain? Have you looked lately?
(I've actually tried to climb a greased pole and it's extremely, extremely difficult.)
3. If I walk down the mountain a little bit will the view still be just as good?
Everyone is always talking about scaling up, what about scaling down? Is the cost of your lifestyle too close to the amount you earn? Is it requiring a level of intensity to make money that is unsustainable or does it take you to the point where you actually aren't even enjoying your lifestyle anymore? What could you do to scale back your life and remove some of that chaos? 90% of the chaos and overwhelm in our lives stems from trying to generate more money or to keep up with the life we have created. What if you didn't need as much money to live and you had a nice buffer that puts you back in the driver's seat. No stress. Could you move out of the city? Reduce your rent or mortgage. What if you cooked more food and reduced your takeaway food bills? Check your credit card statement and take note of what extra expenses you could get rid off so that you could take your foot off the gas in your business. If you have a corporate job this is just as important because having that extra buffer of money will give you the confidence to find a new job or negotiate from a position of strength with your company to remove the part of your job that overwhelms you.
3. Are you taking proper breaks through out the year?
Legally in Ontario you have to give someone 2 weeks vacation. (Which honestly in my opinion should be at least 4 weeks like in Australia) I would say there is a good reason for this. It's to stop burn out. So why is it extremely common that entrepreneurs/business owners or high level executives decide that they are too important and that they don't need to take a break? And if they do go on holidays they still end up working. I've got clients who have 5 weeks of paid holidays and don't know how to use them. Honestly, that blows my mind. I've had to say to a VP before "You're burnt out you idiot, disconnect your laptop and phone and go enjoy the real world. I don't care what you do, sit and watch movies all day for a week, just take a break from work." Are you that idiot? When was the last time you took a break? I even took a 10 day holiday in the middle COVID last year. I didn't do anything other then not think about work. It was awesome and made me feel so much better.
If your business doesn't allow for you to take a minimum 2 weeks break without working, I honestly think your business is failing you. Particularly if your business is mapping out its entire year's schedule on a promotion or sales calendar. Where does that schedule accommodate your time off? As someone who grew up in Oz I budget 4-5 weeks off a year and for me it is without pay. I figured out long ago that if I was going to work the most insane hours, and push my business and career as hard as I could, I must counteract that with taking proper breaks where I completely disconnect.
5. Are the things that are overwhelming me caused by external problems or actually being caused by me?
So when I get really overwhelmed I sometimes think: F**k this, I'm going to sell everything, and move to Sri Lanka. We will have a little Airbnb and I'll surf every day and just chill. No stress."
Then I remind myself, "That will be great for six months, but then you will want to make the Airbnb more profitable, so you will start a social media account, start running a marketing campaign, you'll do some partnership with someone, then you will start some other side business, and before you know it you will be super stressed out again."
So if I'm going to have the same issues whether I'm here or in Sri Lanka then the issue is me. I'm overwhelmed because I've decided to overwork myself or I'm not focusing on the right areas of my life and until I do that, I'm not going to feel better.
9 times out of 10 I'm neglecting either my own selfcare, my social life, my love relationship or my emotions. Or all of the above. If you want the emotions of joy, happiness, peace, excitement, love in your life, are you doing anything right now that will give those? Once I start putting energy back into those areas of my life I'm neglecting (and YES this means you have to turn your attention away from your business/career) the feelings of overwhelm usually go away.
The truth is we are in weird time right now, we don't know if we are coming or going. We have put ourselves on standby mode for so long, some of us don't even know who we are anymore or what we even want out of life. Everything was taken away from us. I highly highly encourage you to start taking back your life. If you aren't working out, please start, it's easier then it's ever been to workout at home now. If you haven't booked a holiday, please do that straight away, you need it. If you aren't feeling joy or happiness in your life, please make a list of the most simple things that bring the emotions you want and start doing some of those. If you are neglecting some relationships, please pick up your phone and start reconnecting with people. It's worth it.
And finally if you do need a hug and a pat on the head, please reach out and I'll come and give you one.
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