On this week’s podcast, Elise and I are talking about the five emotional warning signs of overwhelm.
These are clues to help you (or someone you know) who may be struggling with being overworked and overcommitted.
Experiencing emotions is good and throughout the course of the day, we will experience a lot of them. These are warning signs for when these emotions are either our default mode of response or an unrelenting presence in our lives.
This podcast includes five emotional warning signs and some insights on how to fight against the tide of overwhelm.
Those were the words my client told me over the phone.
Frustrated and agitated, he was lamenting the increasing toll his recent promotion was taking on him. The commutes were longer, the workdays were more exhausting, the stress was mounting.
“Was the pay increase really worth this?” he continued. “Sure, the pay is great, but what’s the point if I can’t enjoy it. Worse than that, I barely see my family anymore!”
Perhaps you can relate.
Maybe you’ve had one of the “crazy weeks.” (Wait…isn’t every week like that???)
My advice remains the same now as it was then: start with the big rocks.
Determine Your Big Rocks
I remember hearing of a study once that examined the student’s ability to properly fill an aquarium full of rocks. There were various sizes of rocks from tiny pebbles to larger foundational rocks.
As the story goes (at least as it was reported to me), the college students started dumping rocks, starting with the small one first to fill the bottom evenly.
By the time they got to the big rocks, not everything would fit.
In contrast to this, the kindergarten students started with the big rocks and everything looking messy. But, as they poured each successively smaller version of rocks in, they filled all the gaps.
The result? The college students “failed” the experiment by not fitting in all of their assigned rocks. In contrast to this, the kindergarten students passed because all of the rocks fit.
And while dozens of life lessons could be learned from this, this is why I push my clients to start with the big rocks.
When we start with the big rocks of life, we end up having room for everything. Work is undoubtedly an important part of life, but is it our biggest rock? Probably not. (At least it shouldn’t be…)
Family, self-care, personal growth, and close relationships are all things that should take up the foundation of who we are. Hobbies and work probably come next. Small rocks include the minor areas of life that take up some time but should never take too much.
As we gain clarity on what our big rocks are, we can easily see what is out of balance with our life pace.
Learning From My Kids
One of the things I’ve learned to implement is a lesson from my four children. If I leave the house and I hear, “Bye, dad! I can’t wait to see you later!” there is a good chance that things are going well. If, on the other hand, I hear, “Noooooo. Daddy, don’t go!” followed by weeping and gnashing of teeth, I know that my priorities for work are starting to take up too much time.
In those moments, I work diligently to reshape my schedule to spend more time with my family.
Thankfully, I’m getting better at this and starting to hear those sounds of disappointment less.
But it all starts with having clarity.
Clarity on the key values for my life.
Conviction on what matters most.
Commitment to live a life shaped by honoring my values more than worldly demands.
But I can only do that when I start with the big rocks.
Question For Discussion: What might be something you would say to someone struggling with work-life balance? Leave a comment below!
One of the things I give every coaching client is the “High-Performance Scorecard.” It’s a postcard-sized printout designed to be carried with them in their day-planner or another medium that works for them.
It reinforces many of the mental habits we talk about, keeps them focused on their goals, and gives them “check-in” techniques when they are feeling distracted.
But there’s also one focus item on there that says, “What’s one thing I did today to pursue my goals: ______________________”
After spending hours designing this scorecard, I think this is one of the most important questions on there.
Because, as a High-Performer training other high-performers, here’s what I’ve learned: we have trouble acknowledging the day-in-day-out habits of success.
But if I’m honest, some days (more than I care to admit) I think “But what did I really do to get closer to my goals?”
In the day-in-day-out grind of the entrepreneurial life, I often feel like I don’t do things of consequence.
Writing a blog is a part of my business, nothing heroic.
Same with coaching a client.
And Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and email.
Networking is hard but necessary, so nothing special there.
And that’s precisely my problem. When I can convince myself that nothing matters then nothing ends up mattering.
So I put that question in the scorecard to remind my clients that what you do absolutely matters, 100% of the time.
Because what’s the alternative? Not writing the blog post? Now that would be a tragedy.
Not coaching, not engaging in social media, and not networking would mean the end to my business.
So in reality, it’s those little things that do matter. It’s the little things that add up to big wins. Big wins lead to success.
Success is what my clients pay me for.
Never Knock Progress
One of the mindsets I’ve had to change in myself, and one I work hard on my clients with, is that of the daily routine. In the scorecard, it’s a built-in process. At the end of every day, you acknowledge a success, however seemingly small or insignificant, and champion the work done.
And no matter how small a victory, I tell them, “It’s progress, and we never knock progress.”
It’s a great way to combat fatigue, discouragement, and frustration. By remembering the one thing we did today, we’re encouraged to do one more thing tomorrow.
Day after day.
Week after week.
Month after month.
Year after year.
Until all of a sudden, we realize that we’ve made our own version of success.
That’s why we celebrate one thing.
That’s why we never knock progress.
What’s one thing you would tell someone facing discouragement or disillusionment in chasing their dream?
I have a goal to both grow my business and be present for my family. When those goals are in conflict with each other, I choose the family time.
Goal clarity is about being clear on your top priorities.
But it’s also about being able to define your goals.
This last week, I spent half a day creating a clarity document on metrics for my business outside of financial goals. I now have requirements for how many people I want to read the blog, share it, and leave a comment.
But this is also true for every social media account that I have.
Speaking of which, you reading this gets me one step closer to my goal and I rrrreeeaaaaallllly appreciate it. Could you help me get one step closer and share it somewhere?
2.) Simplify Your To-Do List.
Not all goals are created equal.
But neither are tasks on the to-do list.
The problem when you just write to-do’s down on a sheet of paper is that they all look equal. In reality, there are only a few things you can do each day that would substantially advance your career, personal life, business, or relationships.
Focus on those.
Personally, I choose three tasks a day and design my day around those. While I may need to “check off” ten or more times in a day, I only focus on the three most important.
Think of it this way. What will advance your business (career, start-up, relationship, fill-in-the-blank) more: Sending the Invoice for payment due or organizing your closet (desk, backpack, car, etc…)?
Are both important? Yes.
Do both tasks need to be done? Yes
But which one will set you back or cause greater levels of stress if not done? Chances are, it’s the invoice. Because without the money from that job you might have to sell those clothes, that backpack, or the car.
Focus First on what matters most.
I find that scheduling my big three works well. I have the first task completed by 11 am, the second by 2 pm, and the third by 5 pm. This gives me time to focus on each one, and still get to those smaller items.
3.) Delegate and Delete.
As a chronic workaholic and typical Enneagram Type 3, I love long task lists. It makes me feel accomplished. If I don’t get twenty things checked off in a day, I feel like I wasted my time.
But recently, I’ve also discovered the joy in two amazingly powerful words: delegate and delete.
Here’s how I choose to do something myself, delegate it out or delete it from my list.
1.) Am I the only one capable of doing this? OR Am I the most qualified? If yes, I do it.
If the above answer is no:
2.) If this doesn’t get done, will someone miss it or will my business fail in some way? If Yes, delegate it to get it done. If no, delete it.
In these two simple questions, I am now free to focus on what matters most to my goals and still get an amazing amount of stuff done.
What sorts of questions would you ask of someone struggling being overwhelmed and underperforming?