Have you heard of comparisonitis? It’s that dreadful compulsion to compare our accomplishments to those of others to gauge how ‘far we’ve come’. It’s lousy, and never productive.
Unfortunately, the past week has been a heady cocktail of comparisonitis and overwhelm that left me feeling extremely ‘less than’, which meant long spells of procrastination, and hiding behind the guise of “perfectionism”. I flaked out on several plans I had for work and I justified it by telling myself I wanted things to be “just right”. I did push through, though, using the same systems explained in this post, so expect exciting news shortly!
If you’ve ever experienced overwhelm in business, you know how self-defeating it can be.
As business owners (and as people), we hardly ever have the time or space to fall down this negative spiral. It keeps us small and holds us back from moving forward. From taking the steps that help us grow. From being brave and showing up for our dreams.
Perfectionism is fear cloaked as procrastination. Fear of failure, fear of putting ourselves out there, fear of negative feedback, and most often, the FEAR OF STARTING.
The hardest part is getting started. You think it’ll take too long, it will be too much work, or that it will be really difficult. We’re just afraid to fail, afraid that our dreams won’t work the way we want them to. It took me a long time and a lot of internal work to accept that NO effort is ever a waste, whether the project succeeds or fails.
You can’t go from 0 to 100 in one single step and everyone starts at 0.
It takes covering every step of the journey to get to the end prize.
That journey won’t always be easy, and it will certainly test you, but if you can remind yourself to not let overwhelm keep you small, you’ll be alright.
If you’ve ever been in the same situation, you know it’s always most helpful to have some practical exercises on hand to bring yourself out of the funk. Since I have literally no time to stand still at the moment, I knew I needed to move beyond the overwhelm the soonest I could.
To help myself do that, I built a small exercise that I go back to any time I feel the fear or any time I need a reminder to GET STARTED.
Whether your dream is starting a business, building your website, creating a product, doing a webinar, being booked out in advance, or growing an audience, here’s 3 practical ways on how to overcome the overwhelm in business and build a path of clarity and purpose:
1 / Remind yourself of the WHY
I know you’ve heard this too often, but here’s why: it works. The moments we feel lost are those when we lose sight of the reasons we wanted the dream in the first place. Think of the “why” as a compass. When you know the path to your outcome, following the compass helps you get back on track when you veer off course. It’s the only tool to certainly get you from point A to point B, so don’t ignore it.
Think back to your reasons for wanting to start in the first place. When I started DigitalMill, I had a history of reasons that led me to the decision of starting my own business. I had moved to Amsterdam, I was in a job that sucked every last bit of joy out of me, and I wanted the freedom to travel back home to see my family and friends whenever I liked.
As exciting as it is to start your own business, it is equally challenging. You have to love it, or you have to at least be willing to take it head on. In the moments that I feel myself caught in the spiral of overwhelm, I remind myself of why I started it all.
That single act helps me take the one next step I need to move in the right direction, and that sets in motion a positive chain of actions. BOOM.
2 / The Power of 3’s: Make a plan for the next 3 months
That’s all you need, really. Start with 3. You may be thinking “what, don’t I need to always have my yearly plan in mind?!”. No. Not in the moment of overwhelm, at least. If you’ve followed my goal-setting process (and I highly recommend you do for a more intentional approach), then you know I recommend breaking down one overarching goal into 3-4 sub-goals (or projects) for the year.
I assign each of those goals to ONE quarter in the year, so that I have 3 months to work on each project. That helps create a more intentional system for creating and achieving goals. It’s also great in avoiding the overwhelm that comes with one large goal that seems more unattainable. The sub-goal for the 3 months then becomes my “personal manager” and I break it down further into 3 to 4 actionable goals for each month in the quarter. This helps you gain clarity when you see the exact steps you need to take each month to work towards your larger goals, and directly overcomes any possible “OMG, how am I ever going to get all this done?!” freak out.
For a more detailed guidance on how to create more intentional and achievable goals, follow my goal-setting system.
Before you do anything else though, write down ONE action you can take immediately to move towards your goals, and DO IT. Do it now, and you’ll feel the power of taking action.
3 / Give yourself a break
If there’s only one thing you take away from this post, let it be this. When you’re feeling overwhelmed and you can’t see the light through the tunnel, you know it’s time for a break. Get out of your house/office/den, hit pause on all training videos, choose to not opt-in for the 55th webinar, and keep away the podcast for another time.
You need to look inwards, so go out on a walk, EXERCISE (you know this is good for you and you’ll never regret it), listen to your favourite music, read a novel (yes, fiction!), call a friend, paint, colour, cook, journal, or just sit in silence.
Move away from your desk to really come back to your dreams. You deserve it.
If you like making notes on paper just as much I do, I have a special FREE WORKSHEET that you can use to work through all the three steps and overcome overwhelm for good.
Print it out, allow yourself the space to fight for your dreams, and keep it by your side so it’s always there when you need it.