Overwhelmed and Underperforming

Two years ago, if I could describe my life in two words, it was overwhelmed and underperforming.

Have you ever felt that way?

I was close to finishing my doctoral thesis.

My (part-time) job was steadily growing in hours and responsibility, leaving the time commitment much closer to full-time.

My kids were getting older and starting new activities.

Both my coaching and personal training businesses were growing.

My workdays started at 4 am and often ended after 7 pm, leaving little time for self-improvement, relaxation, or hobbies.

I knew something had to change.

A New Direction

I’ve followed Michael Hyatt and his brand since 2012. Each iteration and direction has helped me refine my own path. But it was at this point two years ago I decided to try his Full Focus Planner.

In all honesty, this has been the single biggest game-changer for me. I get more done, in less time. I also have greater clarity, passion, and discipline.

In fact, I love it so much, I made a YouTube series on how I’ve been using it.

But, if you’re looking for a quick recipe guide to success on how to increase your productivity, maximize your time, and gain progress on your goals, I’m here to help.

3 Steps To Lessen Overwhelm and Increase Performance.

The following three things have allowed me to go from “overwhelmed and underperforming” to “thriving and successful” in a rapid amount of time.

1.) Create Clarity on Your Goals.

 I’ve written before on the importance of goals. This takes it one step further. Not all goals are created equally. Not all are of equal importance. 

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?

Have any tips?

Leave a comment below!

LeaderQuest Podcast – Episode 6

Failure.

It’s a nasty word that none of us want to deal with. BUT.

 

Can you actually use it to your advantage?

Absolutely!

Join me this week in the discussion on how we can best use our failures to catapult us to greater success.

Please leave a review on iTunes and let me know what you think of the show!

Thanks for listening, I really appreciate it.

This episode of the podcast is brought to you by the Elite Performers Coaching Cohort that begins September 1st. To know more, or to sign up to save your spot and receive a free $125 coaching consultation, please go here.

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Woman sitting in theatre chair with a disappointed look on her face.

The Start of The Problem

At the end of my fifth-grade year, I took part in our annual school play. Put on entirely by the fifth graders, it was supposed to be a way to introduce kids to the arts program before band, music, and other opportunities opened up.

For me, it became a self-defeating narrative that plagued me long into adulthood.

When the parts of the play were announced, I was excited. I had always been an outgoing, energetic, and rambunctious kid. Fairly outgoing, I thought that this would be a wonderful time to explore acting.

I got the practice lines and spent weeks rehearsing them.

Before school.

After school.

With friends.

In the mirror.

I wanted to nail one of the lead roles.

After the auditions, the music teacher announced the roles by posting them on the bulletin board outside her classroom. I excitedly went up to find my name.

Except, it wasn’t listed alongside any of the starting roles. Or any of the secondary roles.

On the roster, I was listed dead last. In fact, I think my official role was titled, “Person #6” or something like that.

The rule was that everyone had to have a part. I was listed even below my friends who wanted no part in the play. It was almost like they went, “Oh crap. Not everyone has a part. Let’s make some up.”

I felt like a failure.

Hurt.

Embarrassed.

My only part was at the very end of the play. After almost an hour and a half of watching everyone else get up on stage and do something exciting, I got into position for my scene.

What did I do?

At the very back of the stage, behind all the singing and dancing of almost the entire fifth-grade class, I walked from stage left to stage right.

No stopping.

No speaking.

No interaction.

The Biggest Failure I Ever Had

That moment is the biggest failure I ever had.

Well, not quite, but I also see how that experience, in many ways, led to a lot of my other failures.

From that moment I took away a feeling of shame and embarrassment.

I let that moment define much of the next 25 years of my life in one way or another.

Woman sitting in theatre chair with a disappointed look on her face.
The Biggest Failure I ever made.

Why try something new? You’ll just be “Person #6” again.

Why put yourself out there? Remember the last time you did that how you got nothing out of it anyway? Just quit.

“You’re not good enough.”

“Don’t embarrass yourself again.”

“You’re a loser.”

“You can’t do anything right.”

My narrative, until I was almost thirty resonated with many of these thoughts. Thankfully, through years and years of therapy, coaching, and personal development I have been able to (mostly) shake that false narrative.

The real tragedy

But there is a real tragedy and a real failure in all of this.

One that I could easily say is the biggest failure I ever had.

What is it?

I listened to that awful narrative. For nearly twenty years, I let one failure and setback dictate the rest of my life.

It was why I could never be a good enough student.

Run for a school position.

Emerge as a leader.

Become a good husband.

Be a good father.

The biggest mistake I ever had, was letting my mistakes define me.

Having a growth mindset

Now, after those years of therapy, coaching, and personal development I try to practice a growth mindset.

A firm and unwavering belief that I can (and will) learn from any and every situation.

Tried a new weight limit for squat? Got buried at the bottom. Okay, not a big deal. What can I learn to improve and get stronger?

Lost my temper with my kids? Not who I want to be. What happened? How can I better control my emotions?

Lost a sale or business venture? It happens. How can I improve so I close the deal the next time?

Nelson Mandela once said, “I never lose. I either win or I learn.”

That’s a key foundation to a growth mindset.

Failure is only fatal, only final if we use it as an excuse to quit or give up. Otherwise, it’s a learning opportunity.

Don’t let the greatest failure you ever make be the acceptance of a (false) limiting belief or narrative about your life. Embrace failure and use it to make yourself, and those around you, better.

 


 

What’s your greatest failure?

What lesson have you learned from it?

Leave a comment below!

Goalless Drifter

After my college graduation, I had a conversation with my older brother about what was next in life. Everyone, it seemed, had a keen interest in me up to that point. They always wanted to know I wanted to be when I grew up, what college I was going to, and what I was going to major in.

But I never had one conversation about what happened after that. How do I start a successful marriage (I didn’t do that one well)? How do I grow in emotional health (took a lot of trips to the therapist’s office)? How do I pass on key values to my children (still figuring that one out…)?

The problem was that no one had taught me how to set goals for what came after graduation.

I wasted a lot of time (and hurt a lot of people) because I was a goalless drifter.

People without goals are people without a future.

Ready, Set, Goal!

One key to sustainable success is the daily habit of setting, reviewing, and reestablishing goals.

One of my practices is to use Michael Hyatt’sFull Focus Planner . I’ve used it for over a year now and absolutely love both the structure and order it gives me, while also allowing a great deal of freedom in the process.

I’ve also discovered the power of paper and what it means to write goals down. It’s easy to think, “My goal is…” because we often forget it. But by writing goals down, it not only gives us a visual reminder of what we’re trying to accomplish but cements it into our brain better.

 

By getting clear and specific on what we are aiming at, we gain a strategic advantage to sustainable success. The key discipline though is to make our goals S.M.A.R.T.E.R.

S.M.A.R.T.E.R Goals

When you’re ready to say, “Ready, Set, Goal!” you must begin by making sure you have the right format.

S: Specific. Make sure the goals you set are clear on the intended destination. Don’t think, “Lose weight.” Instead write, “I want to lose twenty pounds.”

M: Measurable. Similar to specific, measurable makes sure that what you’re aiming for can actually be hit. Avoid using jargon or filler words in your goal-setting times. Don’t think, “Be more productive.” Instead, write that you want to, “Use my time wisely by spending no more than thirty minutes a day on social media.” Ouch. That one may hurt a bit, but it’s measurable. You can use apps or the integrated Apple Screen Time (if you’re an iPhone user) to track how you’re spending your time on your phone.

A: Actionable. Start your goals with action-oriented verbs (as opposed to “to-be” verbs). This focuses your attention on what needs to be accomplished. Don’t write, “Be better at date nights.” Instead, try, “Take my spouse on one date night every week.” Now you know how to take action to accomplish your goal.

R: Realistic. This one can be challenging, and we’ll talk about short and long term goals in a second. But realism is important in goal setting. Too often, goals fail because they either don’t inspire us or are unattainable. Realistic goals should do both. “Complete my ebook and submit to the publisher by the end of quarter three.” This goal meets the first three points and is entirely realistic (even if you’re not very far into your book). However creating a goal like, “Establish the first hotel chain on the moon by the end of the year” meets the first three steps in the process, but not the last one. To take action that inspires, your goal must be reasonable.

T: Timely. Put some hustle in it. This is where I work hard with my clients to push ourselves on our goals. Strive for greatness and see what you can do. If your goal is to gain three new speaking opportunities for your business, fantastic! But put yourself under a time constraint to reach that goal. “Acquire three new speaking opportunities by the end of August.” It’s clear, concise, and gives you a visible target to know if you’ve hit your goal. It also pushes you to keep working and avoid drifting from your goal. The end of August is coming up quick after all.

E: Exciting. Your goals should scare you a little bit. If not, you’ll never grow. This is honestly one of my big descriptors for the clients that I work with. We always work a little scared. If you’re making $50,000 a year and want to work with me, and your goal is to make $50,000 next year as well, we probably won’t be a good fit. You still might have some great goals, but I want my clients to push themselves. My clients are making $50,000 but want to make $125,000. They know they need to get serious about pursuing their dreams.

And it works in all areas of life too. Want a better marriage? Don’t take your spouse on four dates a year, take them on two a week. That shows me you’re serious about reprioritizing your schedule to thrive in your relationship.

R: Relevant. This one matters, but more in the daily habits of life. I regularly review my goals to make sure they are still what I want. Every year, I sit down and try to project out a year to set goals throughout. A number of times I’ve set a goal in January, gotten to May, and then realized it was no longer relevant. That’s not a bad thing! Those goals pushed me and stretched me in new ways that have forever changed me. But in that growth process, I realized that I needed to rechart my course and set a new destination.

Don’t be afraid to reevaluate your goals and start a new direction. That’s the fun part of goal setting.

Clear goals

+

Daily Habits

=

Lasting Success!

 

If you’re wanting to know where to start, I’m launching a Habit and Performance Mastermind Group. To find out more, set some goals in a supportive community, and take your life to the next level, click this link.

Ascending the Mountain

During my high school years, I went to a wonderful camp nestled in the mountains of Colorado. Full of whitewater rafting, ropes courses, mountain lake swimming, and nature hikes it was a time full of great memories.

Behind the camp was one notorious trail. At the end of it, near the peak of the mountain stood a little inlet that gave view to the most incredible sunrises. Looking over the valley below, you could watch the sun illuminate life all around you.

Because of how early the sun rose, you had to start the hike while it was still dark. But if you made it to the summit in time, it was worth the investment.

About halfway up (and technically at the edge of the camp’s property) stood one giant boulder. The first half of the hike was fairly easy, and the last third was full of steep climbs and loose rocks, but getting over this boulder was easily the most challenging part.

It required careful navigation, a leap off one rock as you jumped up to grab onto the top of the boulder. From there, it was a pullup and leg swing away from getting over. It took careful planning, sure feet, some upper body strength, and mental toughness.

I was with my fair share of people who hit that point in the journey and then decided to turn around and head back to camp.

The question about the boulder was whether or not it was an obstacle or an opportunity.

Opportunity or Obstacle?

Whether or not we see something as an obstacle or an opportunity comes down to our mindset. There was (quite literally) a boulder blocking my path on the way up the mountain.

In life, we will experience similar obstacles. Unexpected bills. Job loss. Sick family members. A late-night phone call beckoning us back to work. At various times and in various ways, we will experience boulders all around us.

Our mindset determines our outcome. The difference between opportunity and obstacle is not the size of the problem, the timing of the event, or the outcome.

It is firmly planted in our mindset. How we see the obstacle will determine how we traverse the landscape and overcome adversity.

If the current issues in your life are obstacles, you, like many of my friends on that hike, will quit. Choosing to give up instead of pushing through what may seem like a temporary relief to the heartache and struggle.

But I also know that when you don’t push through, you can’t ascend the mountain top and see the amazing views.

My friends who quit never made it above treeline. On your quest for success, if you don’t develop the daily grit and habit of pushing through, you’ll never get above the tree line in your life to get to the mountaintop. 

Three Things

Pushing through the hard things in life, and transforming circumstances into opportunities is a key characteristic of high achievers. Never settling for a second-best “Plan B”, they keep their mind engaged towards growth.

If you want to do the same, here are three things you can do to change your obstacles into opportunities:

  1. Ask: “How have I already been equipped to deal with this problem?” Too often, we think that each problem is insurmountable. Not true. Instead, look for ways you have already overcome similar situations and what you’ve learned and could implement here.
  2. Ask: “Who do I know?” You don’t have to do this journey alone. A trusted coach, friend, mentor, or loved one can help you navigate those areas and find forward momentum.
  3. Ask: “What’s at stake?” Many times, we lose hope because we aren’t clear on what’s at stake if we quit. Will you lose your job? Passion? Sense of purpose? Money? There are many potential motivations but the deepest failures are the ones where we lose a bit of ourselves. Get clear on what’s at stake at commit to act so you don’t lose it.

Bonus Tip: Ask: “If I overcome this circumstance, what else would be possible?” Don’t limit your thinking to the difficulty in front of you. Think long term. Overcoming one area of difficulty can lead to another, another, and another. Small wins lead to big wins. Big wins lead to transformation. Transformation leads to success. Success leads to lasting influence and legacy.

Comment below: What’s one brave choice you can commit to today to help overcome a difficult situation?