Life can be too much. Leadership can be too much. Frankly, my kitchen junk drawer can be too much. What do we do when we are splashed with overwhelm from every angle? I talk with so many leaders who are functioning in constant recovery mode. The workday is entirely exhausting, you go home, unplug, and try to recover. On repeat. Then the weekend comes, and you try to plug in because you’ve been absent from your family all week. However, Monday morning rolls around and you’re recovering from being with your family all weekend. It’s. A. Lot. The feeling of constantly being overwhelmed by itself can be overwhelming.
In addition, a close buddy of overwhelm can be guilt. As leaders, we feel overwhelmed with duty and then feel guilty for not doing our duties good enough. We feel like we are constantly disappointing others. Perhaps we need to eliminate some of these good things and create space. We feel guilty at the thought of trying to eliminate, because we should be able to handle it. Leaders, let’s break that cycle. Eliminate. What can you get rid of? What scheduled meetings are unnecessary? What routines are not worth keeping?
Sometimes these feelings of overwhelm can be used as directional signals. We can compare this to our “check engine” light. Perhaps that’s the trick of stopping the downward spiral of overwhelm – guilt – insecurity, etc. Simply acknowledge the feeling, consider it a dashboard light, and pull over for a hot minute.
Typically, the root source of overwhelm is that we don’t know where to start. How do we make it happen? That question sounds the alarm of overwhelm. We might know where we want to go, but how in the world do we make it happen? I believe that is the last question we should be asking. There is no one-size-fits-all formula, but it seems many resonate with this process of questions.
First of all, what do you really want? If you find yourself listing off several things at once, try to narrow it down. What do you want most? What is the next best? Then, reflect on why that’s the next best. What makes that so important right now? Why is that so important right now? After you have thought about these main questions, THEN you can move onto how? How are you going to make it happen? How do you break that down into bite size chunks? How are you going to conquer that? Usually, if the first two are clarified, then the third one becomes clearer. As you work through that process, the feeling of overwhelm subsides. The power of wonder is real. Let the power of wonder overcome the overwhelm.