How Do You Negotiate Overwhelm?

This weekend it got to me how much I actually have on the go. I’m launching two podcasts, while trying to maintain a blog, building digital products, working full-time, teaching fitness and still trying to put in some QT with two of the most important people in my life. On Friday, I took a picture of my To-Do list and literally started shaking. As I progressed through the weekend, I could feel my body gradually getting more tense and tighter to the point where my muscles actually started hurting. Something had to be done. I know I’ve said that we all have multiple things on the go, and it’s totally normal to do so. It is. But have you ever felt so overwhelmed knowing that you had so much to do, that you end up getting nothing done? You don’t know where to begin? How do you negotiate overwhelm?

Now, I know you’ve experienced something similar to this before in your life. If you have family, a career, and maybe something else on the side, you know what I’m talking about. Sooner or later you’ll arrive at the point where you feel like you’re drowning. That was me this weekend.

I took a few moments to think about why I’m feeling this way. I dissected this sinking, drowning feeling. I broke it down to its root components. Here is what I determined that contributed to the overwhelm:


1. I am an Island

For all those solopreneurs out there, you know what I’m talking about. When you’re the president, operations, and janitor in your business, it gets pretty lonely. Everything is done by you. You have no one to share your victories, let alone your struggles. Even when you’re working with partners, sometimes there is a feeling of loneliness and emptiness that is the solo path you tread.


2. Keeping on, Keeping up

It might be the type of person I am, though I’m sure I’m not the only one out there. If I start something, it becomes part of my standard that I feel I need to maintain. If not, I fall behind. When I commit to something, I follow through, even if it kills me. Many of you are like this. This imaginary feeling is likely one of the top stressors in your life, as in mine.


3. It’s Heavy Carrying the World on Your Shoulders

Like Atlas, I often feel like I am the one person who holds up my entire world. This again is an imaginary feeling. When I think about it, it’s quite an egotistical attitude to have. You literally think that you’re so important that the entire world will collapse if you’re not there to hold it up? The reality is that you’re not that important. No one is. No one is completely indispensable to anything. In the wise words of Norman Vincent Peale, “the world would go on even without you.”


via Norman Vincent Peale

How Do We Negotiate Overwhelm?

You probably already know the usual resources that are out there: fitness, take a walk, breathe, think of something for which you’re grateful. But this weekend, I learnt that sometimes when you’re in the middle of the overwhelm, when you’re drowning, you feel like going for a workout is like squandering your already limited time. You don’t have time to take a walk. And you are certainly not in a mood for thinking of how grateful you are for everything around you that is causing all this chaos!
When the usual suspects don’t work, here is what helped me emerge from my valley of darkness this weekend.


Start Talking to Your Partners

I’m very fortunate to have attracted a few amazing partners with whom I’m working to accomplish each of the projects that I’ve got currently. It’s actually pretty unbelievable working with partners. You might think that when you are working alone. you’ve got no timelines, and you can do things the way you want. You can move as fast or as slow as you want. There is no one to coordinate schedules, no one to whom to answer, and that this is freedom. But it is not. It’s actually quite the opposite. With the freedom of working alone, you get procrastination. With having to coordinate only yourself, you get ambiguity. Most of all, you get a feeling that no one cares, that you are alone on your crusade. And well, you should feel that way. You are alone.

But I have discovered the magic in working with partners.



Accountability is a Team Effort

With each of my partners, Perry, Andy, and Raeed, we meet once weekly for a strategy session. This is one of the best things you can do if you want to make consistent progress on your project, whatever it is. We meet weekly no matter what’s going on in our life. It’s something we always do. This is your golden time to move ahead with your project.

I’m hardly telling you anything new. Think of the difference between working out alone, and working out with a fitness buddy. Which is going to be more effective? Of course, working with a partner is way more effective. Left to my own devices, I would rather sit in bed and binge watch 8 consecutive episodes of The Good Wife. But because I don’t want to let down any of my partners… because I don’t want to put myself in a bad light, I’m going to get off my hiney and do the task to which I committed. Ok. I get it. This doesn’t help with alleviating overwhelm. If anything, it would create it because you’re holding yourself to a higher standard of accountability. But the next point, however, is where the sparks fly.


You have Comradery

The first thing I’ve done with each of my partners is that we’ve crafted a vision of what we want to accomplish. In our weekly strategy sessions, we gradually build on that vision. Over a number of weeks, that vision gives way to smaller milestones and tasks for each of us. The road is mapped out.


Having a partner means that you have someone with whom to bounce ideas, and to share the workload. These past two weekends, Perry and I were going through our post-production edits of our Inspired Parent Insights podcast. We had originally intended to hire a VA to do the post-production work. Alas, when our episodes were ready for post-production, our VA’s suddenly fell off the face of the planet. So we ended up doing it ourselves. As I mentioned before, Perry and I are 16 hours apart. But that didn’t stop us from collaborating across the globe. He would edit the feature; I would splice them together. After a while, we found the tasks at which we were each more efficient. We found our stride. I’m happy to report that we are almost done. At the time of this writing, the podcast would be launched in about a week. As my partner Andy frequently says, working in partnership is like “2 + 2 = 5.” In this, and in my other joint ventures, I could honestly say that none of the progress could be done in such little time without the joint effort of each partner.


Get One Ball Rolling Before Another

Gary Keller reinforces this in The ONE Thing. It’s totally acceptable to have multiple projects on the go. As I wrote in my post “How to Jump Gracefully onto a Moving Train,” we always do. You’re deluding yourself if you think that there is ever a time in which you would only have but one thing going. Further to that, if you’re waiting for the most opportune time, when your slate is completely clear before you start that next project that you always wanted to start, but never did, you’re fooling yourself. That way of thinking brings nothing but stagnancy. Your plate will never be clear! The universe abhors vacuums. It will automatically fill your plate with stuff that you otherwise would not even think that you had to handle. Mark my words, there will NEVER be a time in which you are doing only ONE thing. So embrace it. Get one ball rolling, then another, then another. As Frans said, “It’s true that you can’t ride a bike and drive a car at the same time by yourself.” But when you organize your life such that you can focus on launching projects sequentially, that is the way you optimally employ the ONE thing.


Floating is Fun

Back a few years ago, I bought a gift card off a Facebook ad for a float studio that was just starting out. Little did I know, they didn’t have a store yet. They had set up a temporary float studio in someone’s house. Years later, they now have a beautiful studio in the west of Edmonton. I was so stressed out from podcast editing that I booked my first float. The studio reminded me of the spa at the W Hotel when I stayed there in Hong Kong. Chill, clean lines, ultra-modern. I was shown to my float room, which was equipped with a rain shower and the floating capsule to the side. I stepped into the tub filled with about a foot of water so salty that it was viscous. I closed my eyes, lied back, and floated there weightless for the next 60 minutes. My only company w my heartbeat and my breathing. By the time I emerged, I was relaxed like jelly. I was ready for bed. Not an ounce of tightness left in my body. I noticed that the latest appointments were the first ones to be booked. It seems everyone else had the same float – bedtime combo idea. I seriously recommend giving your local float studio a dance. And if you’re in Edmonton, well, clearly the choice is Modern Gravity Float. I can even say that the owners of this place Matthew and JP are exemplary small business owners who know how to build customer


By now, you probably already know that I meditate every day. It’s my morning staple. I feel sorry for the people who have to interact with me if my miss my meditation. Even my 5-year-old will remind me, “Mama! you didn’t meditate yet today!” which is code for “you’re cranky. Get out of my face and go meditate.” There is so much goodness to meditation. It calms your mind; it relieves the tension from your body. If you don’t know how to meditate, I’ve developed a simple guided audio that you can try out just before bed.


Take it as it Comes No more, No less

Finally, as much as it’s so tempting to do, you don’t have to have all the answers for everything all at once. The fact is that for anyone venturing new territory, there is no possible way that you will know absolutely everything right away. I’m going to share a secret with you. You often only need to be a few steps ahead of where you’re going. Obviously, you need to know where you’re going and have a roadmap. But as for how to get there, you only need to know the next few steps…then next few…then the next few.

What’s more is that there is beauty in the spontaneity. When you give yourself a little room for uncertainty, often things turn out better than your best laid plans. Of course, it could definitely go the other way, but that’s also part of the fun, isn’t it?


Mile Wide, Mile Deep

Marco, my other trusted Mastermind advisor reassured me with his recent study of Steve Pavlina’s ‘Mile Wide, Mile Deep’ concept.

In short, it’s totally ok to give yourself permission to deep dive all of your passions. After reading his article, I am once again re-energized and reinforced that I am heading down the right path. I’m going to leave you with this message that I tell myself when I’m feeling overwhelmed.

The universe doesn’t give you anything you can’t handle.

The obstacles in front of you are a façade. You have within you what it takes to ultimately succeed.

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