We’ve all had them. Hours, days, and dare I say months when we’ve felt overwhelmed. Not just the, “Oh, things are just a little hectic right now” times, but the, “How in the world am I going to get this through this,” type of times. Yeah, you know the feeling. Those moments are certainly real, and they happen to all of us.
Several years ago I found myself in a serious period of overwhelm. I had just quit my job to do my own thing, and I was juggling a lot while also trying to get my business going. Those juggling balls included a couple of consulting gigs with a local and international non-profit, part-time work, and progressing through the process of becoming a Certified Life Coach. Add in the emotional strain of second-guessing whether I’d made a huge mistake by leaving my traditional career path and well… you can just say things got a little tough.
Dealing with all of those things independently might not have made me feel so overwhelmed, because they were each pretty awesome opportunities. I had successfully used my professional experience to land consulting gigs that allowed me to go even deeper with my skills. I creatively explored several part-time options that were linked to my personal and professional interests, some of which gave me additional insight into potential business ideas I had. And I was working one-on-one with several paid life-coaching clients, as I started and continued my training to become a Certified Life Coach.
Again, each of these experiences was great, and reflecting back now I don’t hesitate to feel thankful for them. But back then, something was happening as I was juggling all of those balls in the air. I felt weighed down, and that weight translated itself into me feeling overwhelmed. But it wasn’t just the things that I was doing, it was also the way that I way feeling. Although I had planned and prepared to leave my traditional career path, as time went on I began to question whether I’d made some huge mistake.
The overwhelm was real, and my self-doubt skyrocketed. My previous excitement about starting my own business quickly turned into me feeling like I was moving forward but with not much direction and structure. I was doing, but I wasn’t doing strategically. I had several income streams that were linked to my interests and skills, but they weren’t linked to each other. So although I was doing a lot and had a loose plan, I hadn’t tied the pieces together well and that left me feeling scattered and overwhelmed.
In the end, it’s fair to say that my overwhelm also left me feeling quite stuck. Although I was juggling a lot, I felt stagnant and wasn’t making the progress I knew I could be making in my business. It was difficult and heart-breaking because I knew I was capable of so much more – yet I struggled to move past my growing feelings of overwhelm and feeling stuck. So I just kept going… and going… and going… It was like I was on a treadmill – running but going nowhere fast.
Now looking back, it’s clear that in times like these – times when we feel overwhelmed and stuck – the best thing we can do for ourselves is take a time-out. Press pause and just stop for a moment. When we allow ourselves the time to pause, we give ourselves the space we need to get clarity and figure things out.
So now when I find myself feeling a bit overwhelmed or heading down that path again, I remind myself to take a moment to pause. Of course, it’s not always easy to this because that little thought of, “I’m going to get behind if I don’t keep working!” creeps in. But that’s when I remind myself that taking that moment of pause – whether it’s 30 minutes to take a walk or one day to shake-off the overwhelm – will help me produce better work and work that is done more efficiently. I always come back refreshed and ready to go, and my work tends to flow more easily.
So next time you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, remember to pause – give yourself time and space to hit the refresh button. The time you take does take you away from your work, but when you come back to it you’ll feel more refreshed and ready to dive in with a renewed focus and energy.
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