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Are you feeling overwhelmed or stuck? Looking at a swath of paths in front of you and paralyzed by the thought which one you should follow?
What’s even got you feeling like this?
There are many things in life that can make you feel overwhelmed
You might have too many things competing for priority; your plate is overflowing; you have too many homework assignments due tomorrow morning and you haven’t started any of them; your boss has asked you to do something you’re not good at nor comfortable doing, but he expects it done anyway, and done on a tight schedule.
Or, you might feel overwhelmed due to a fire hose of information pointed directly at your face.
I’m in the second camp.
My overwhelm comes from gaining access to a wealth of information that’s both broad AND deep. That’s a heady mixture since usually, things are one or the other, not both. The first problem is not knowing what to do with it.
It’s called “analysis paralysis.” This fun phrase refers to the feeling of being stuck despite being surrounded by (or up to your eyeballs in) information and knowledge that you want so desperately to absorb, but you don’t know where to start.
Shia LaBeouf knows his shit, yo. Just Do It! Click To Tweet
The easy way to get past this is to do this: just start! It doesn’t matter where; just start. Just DO something.
Do something and figure out the rest later. Whatever you choose to do isn’t the wrong thing. But if it feels like it, you can just move on to a different thing.
The fastest way to gain self-confidence and break out of analysis paralysis and that feeling of overwhelm is to just start.
Another feeling associated with overwhelm is that you have to rush to do all the things at once.
This will just make you feel worse.
Take one step, then another, then another. Just one step at a time. As Jordin Sparks says, there’s no need to rush. Baby steps will get you there faster than trying to do all the things at once and suffering a breakdown.
While this article is directly applicable to dealing with the fire hose of information rather than an overloaded plate of responsibilities, the general principles are the same.
Identify what you’re overwhelmed about. Write it down. Make it real by putting it on paper, whether that paper is physical or digital. Pop it on a new spread in your Bullet Journal. Get it out of your head and onto the page, where it’ll be easier to deal with. It doesn’t matter if it’s just one source or fifty – writing it down will clarify your feelings on the matter.
I am feeling overwhelmed by the vast amount of knowledge and resources available to me through the Work-At-Home School, the free resources from the Summit speakers and ancillary bloggers to whom I became connected from simply participating in the Summit and School, and the online courses which I have already purchased but not completed.
Where do you want to be at the end of this? Imagine that you’ve gotten through all of your sources of overwhelm and you’re at the end of that journey. Where are you? What did you accomplish with that knowledge? What do you want to have done with all those sources of overwhelm? This is also called visualization, one of the core elements of the Miracle Morning practice.
With this huge amount of information at my fingertips, by the time I finish going through it I want to have implemented everything that works for me.
Yes, I know that’s vague, and it’s vague because I don’t know the specifics of where I want to be yet.
I just know that not everything will work for me, and that’s okay.
On the other hand, I do know that I’d like to have a book written and published. I’d like this blog to be a go-to for people who want encouragement and advice for dealing with anxiety, stress, annoying family members, etc. I created a brand story tagline while going through Jonathan Milligan’s 7 Day Challenge to Launch Your Blog, and it goes like this:
Most anxious millennials struggle with achieving a calm life landscape. I help them cut through the mental obstacles of anxiety, self-doubt, and overwhelm so they can construct a well-organized life and become the best versions of themselves.
That statement encompasses my passion as well as where I want to end up.
Once you’ve identified the sources of overwhelm and your actual end goal, you’re ready to start a plan. Begin by ranking each source of overwhelm on a scale of priority – what will bring you the most value by doing it first? What do you need to do first in order to set yourself up for success with the rest of your dominos?
Since my first priorities are to begin building a platform, I need to do this blog correctly. That means focusing on the courses in the Work at Home School that teach effective blogging and audience growth. By setting up the systems first I’ll make it so much easier for myself later.
The more I learn and do now, the less I’ll have to do later (and there’s always more to learn!)
Now that you have a path for getting to your end-point, break it down even further.
Give yourself deadlines.
If you think you could get something done in a week, commit yourself to getting it done in a week. I’ve found that by doing this I want to beat my own deadline, and I’ll finish even faster than I’d committed myself to doing. At the same time, be flexible with yourself.
Something might come up (like my car not starting after work) and you just have to deal with it. That’s okay. It’s okay to move things around, because you’re doing all this for YOU, not for someone else’s deadline.
Your schedule can be extremely fluid at the same time as giving you a nice structure to work from.
I wrote the day’s summary for The Journey to Magnificence series every night. It makes it easier to remember what I did, what I didn’t do, how I felt about it, and what I might want to tell you guys about how the day went.
However, I might not have time to do a detailed write-up, so instead of spending half an hour on it when I need to be asleep, I just do quick notes to remind myself of the highlights that need to be included.
I have to do this so on Sunday it’s ready to prepare for publishing.
DO IT. DO THE THINGS.
That’s the last step.
JUST DO IT.
There are many motivational sayings about how to get shit done, and the best one I’ve heard is to just do it.
Nike and Shia are geniuses, man!
You won’t get momentum without movement.
You won’t get motivated without actually doing something.
Neil Pasricha talks about this in The Happiness Equation as a circle. Do the thing, want to do the thing, can do the thing. Then right back to doing the thing!
This kind of mindset shift is quite powerful. If you ignore the urge to think too hard about what’s overwhelming you, you’re cutting the problem off at the roots.
Imagine yourself in this scenario:
You want to write a book, but you don’t know how. There are millions of resources online that tell you how to write a book that sells, but you don’t know where to even start.
From here, there are a few options to consider.
A) Never write the book
B) Spend hours, days, months, or even years reading through all the resources and how-to guides for writing a book
Now, each of these options says something about you.
Option A says that you’re too overwhelmed to do anything, so you freeze.
Option B says that you’re consuming content without taking action on any of it. This is that rabbit hole of information that gets you nowhere even though you now know a lot.
Option C says that you’ve ignored the urge to overthink your overwhelm and you followed Neil Pasricha’s advice to effectuate (just do the thing) and the rest will follow. The “rest will follow” is basically the process outlined above: Identify, Imagine, Plan, Constrain, and Act.
Now, that process looks like a straight line, but it’s really not. It’s a circle, just like Pasricha’s DO-WANT-CAN circle. Ideally, you should start at IDENTIFY or at ACT.
Starting with one of those is the easiest because if you imagine, plan, or constrain without context you’re in danger of sputtering out before you get enough momentum to keep going.
What Are You Going to Do?
So now, what about you? What are you going to do to start whittling down the overwhelm? Let me know down in the comments where you usually start in the IDENTIFY-IMAGINE-PLAN-CONSTRAIN-ACT circle.