Life can be difficult. (No one really prepares you for that, do they?) No one tells you that even beautiful things have their downside, or that all happy new life events come with their own brand of stress. No one tells you that if you don’t say no more than you say yes, you’ll eventually find yourself buried under a pile of someone else’s priorities. But that’s all true.
It feels terrible to be underneath the weight of things, doesn’t it? That’s what it feels like to be overwhelmed, I think. It’s like an emotional drowning of sorts, where you find yourself so stunned by the sheer volume of your workload (or the magnitude of your problem) that you’re frozen. And paralyzed, like one of those bad dreams where you try to move, but can’t.
While you don’t get a pass on dealing with overwhelm, you don’t have to live in it either. Whatever you’re facing, you CAN handle it. But before you do, it’s important to get your bearings. To do that, you need to move through your overwhelm. (Quite literally the only way out is through.)
Overwhelm feels scary, but it’s not nearly as big or bad as we make it out to be. In fact, overwhelm is just an emotion (albeit a sucky one). You will experience it. Guaranteed. It’s part of life, and there’s nothing wrong with you if you’re in it.
Overwhelm is actually FOR you. It’s designed to get your attention. When you feel it, rather than shrinking in fear, meet it like the messenger it’s intended to be. It’s asking you to take a look at the way you’re doing life, and make some adjustments.
In this week’s episode of GrooveTV I’m gonna help you get your arms around your overwhelm, and put it in its place. Press PLAY already. Let’s overcome that overwhelm of yours together, shall we?
Our first step will make you LOL.
Step 1: Sort out your f*cks. (Yes. F*cks.)
I know. I said the F word. (Sorry, not sorry?)
I want to get your attention.
I want you to stop sleepwalking through your life. I want you to stop operating on autopilot, obsessing about petty things that don’t matter, and agreeing to do things you don’t want to do. I want you to stop being a good little girl.
While we want to stop with Susie Good Girl, we’re not looking to swing into She Who Gives No Fs either. (Though she’s super fun to imagine, isn’t she?)
In life you don’t get to give no Fs.
You have to give some.
You need to care about things. We just need you to decide what those things are for yourself, instead of letting life decide for you. (Which is what happens when you don’t decide.) I have a fun little coaching game that can help you figure things out.
It works like this. You get three buckets.
- Big Fs. This bucket is reserved for the things that matter to you most. Think your people, your work-in-the-world, your health, your financial abundance, your home, your cause, and your passions.
- Little Fs. This bucket is reserved for things that bring you pleasure, but don’t impact your life at a foundational level. Think clean house, designer bag, still fitting into your wedding dress, or the number of likes your latest post got.
- No Fs. Everything else. Literally. Everything. Else.
Think about the things that have been bothering you lately. What have you been worrying about or obsessing over? Which bucket do those things belong in? (I bet you’ll realize a lot of them don’t matter at all once you start sorting.)
Only big and little Fs deserve your life force. Nothing else is worthy of you. This week, pay attention to your emotions. Every time you’re triggered, or you feel upset or overwhelmed, check your F bucket.
You’re gonna LOVE how good it feels when you realize that a ton of the stuff you’ve been worrying about deserves no Fs at all.
Step 2: Do less. With more focus.
The quickest way out of overwhelm is through action.
Just like with anything, you get what you behave for. While I haven’t had the chance to meet you personally, I can say with confidence that I know you’re responsible for a lot right now. (Like a-super-human-lot, right?)
You do more things in a day than any one woman should be capable of, don’t you? I want you to consider doing fewer of those things, and bringing more of yourself to the ones you decide to keep doing. These coaching strategies can help.
- Clean up your calendar. Your time is a precious resource. I want you to stop giving it to things you don’t care about. Get out your calendar, and look at the week ahead of you. How many of your big and little Fs made it in there? How many no Fs made it? You need to get rid of the no Fs. No two ways about it. No more excuses. Just do it. Your discomfort is worth your life force. If you need help saying no, try my blogs How to say no like you mean it or How to set a boundary for real.
- Prioritize and pace your projects. Superwoman couldn’t manage the project lists most of my clients are juggling before we start working together. Is it time to take your cape off? You are not a super hero. (I know you think you’re supposed to be, but you’re not.) You’re human. That means you have limits. You cannot effectively manage 10+ projects at a given time, so I want you to stop telling yourself you can. In my experience, it isn’t really possible to manage more than 3-5 projects at once, so if you’re managing more than that you need to re-prioritize. Don’t panic. You will get to all of your projects, just not all at one time. Write them down. Prioritize them, and start working on no more than 5 at any given time. Finish a project. Then take the next one from your list. When you do too many things at once, you don’t do any of them well. (You know this.) Narrow your focus. Take action. Bring one project at a time to completion. Every time you finish something, you grow your confidence. And shrink your overwhelm.
- Start single-tasking. The era of multitasking has ended. Single-tasking is the new black. I want you to give it a try. I think you’re gonna love it. To single-task, all you do is focus on one thing at a time. Science shows us that your brain can’t focus on more than one thing at a time, so when you ask it to, (like when you attempt to write that presentation, answer your email, and text your girlfriend at the same time) you actually diminish your own effectiveness. Now, don’t get me wrong. There is a place for multitasking. I’m all for folding laundry while catching up on The Real Housewives. (Of any city. I love you Andy Cohen. You are genius.) But when work needs to be produced that requires your full creativity (like that presentation I mentioned earlier) single-tasking is your best bet. If you haven’t built up your single-tasking muscle, start small. Ten or fifteen focused minutes at a time will do it. There’s a beautiful thing that happens when you slow down and give something your full attention. You touch your soul. There is an essence that wants to express through you. It can only do that through the single-task. (Mindfulness teachers have known this for years.) Give the single-task a try this week, and let me know what you think. Do less. Focus more. Okay, home stretch…
Step 3: Set Yourself Up To Win.
How easy is it for you to feel like a success? If you’re like most women, it’s a lot tougher than one might expect. In my experience as a life coach, I’ve noticed that most women have ridiculously outsized expectations about what they should be capable of.
That’s where a success rule comes in. A success rule is just that, a rule about what has to happen for you to feel successful. I want you to decide on a rule for yourself that sets you up to win. (Meaning it’s easy for you to succeed.)
My personal rule is about my effort. If I’ve done my best (even if my best was pretty stinky that day) I am successful. If I’ve missed my mark, I’ll take stock, and commit to another go at it in the morning. No matter what outcome I’m dealing with, I go to bed feeling good about me. I want that for you too.
Decide on your rule right now. I‘ve included a few sample rules for you below.
- I’m a success if I’ve done my best.
- I’m a success if I’ve spoken up for myself.
- I’m a success if I’ve made progress.
- I’m a success if I’ve ____________________.
What’s your rule? Comment in the comment sections below. You never know who you might be helping by sharing.
Okay, my sister. You are armed to overcome overwhelm. Go out into the world aware of your Fs, and remember that only worthy things deserve your life force.
That’s it for the week. Remember that I never want you to blindly take my word for anything. Only you know what’s right for you. I just happen to have a few coaching tools that can help you get closer to that wisdom. Give this lesson’s advice a test drive in your life, and let me know how it goes. There are three ways for us to interact.
- Comment in the comments section below.
- Chat with me on on Instagram, Facebook or LinkedIn.
- Email me if you have something more private you’d like to ask. My personal email is firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m the only one reading your messages, and it’s always me answering them.
My mission is your empowerment. That’s why I’m here. If you haven’t already joined my community, please do it by entering your email (www.kimberlyfulcher.com). Until we meet again, know that life is happening for you.
And you got this!