What’s in common? Bobbleheads, Crisis Junkies, Bleeding Backs, Spectators, Royal Rumblers – what’s in common in...
How To Break Free From Overwhelm (Without Feeling Guilty For Not Getting Stuff Done)Antoniya K. Zorluer
Being a solopreneur is a blessing and a curse.
For the most part, it has been a real blessing for me because I get to experience the joy of designing my own life.
But sometimes, it can be a real nightmare….
Especially when I’m sitting at my desk on a lovely sunny morning, looking at the trees out of my window, listening to the birds tweet, and staring at my endless to-do list on the verge of crying….
“There’s no physical way I can do ALL that today”,
I catch myself thinking.
Yoga has taught me to cut myself some slack, but I usually can’t help feeling guilty for not doing everything on my to-do list.
It’s not that I’m lazy–most people who know me would say that I’m the opposite of lazy! It’s rather that I’m trying to fit in too many things on my to-do list.
I’m sure it has happened to you, too–read a blog post on the best new Facebook advertising tactic, add it to your to-do list; listen to a podcast on writing better headlines, add headline reviews to your to-do list; learn about a new breakthrough book in your field, add reading it to your to-do list. It goes on and on… To end up with me almost crying while looking at an endless list of to-do’s I can’t let go of.
It happens to all of us.
The Internet gives us endless opportunities to do something. Endless tactics, ideas and possibilities. And that’s great if you know where your own breaks are. But it’s also the reason behind overwhelm.
Do We Really Need To Do It All?
The truth is, we don’t.
Yes, I CAN run Facebook ads.
Yes, I CAN review all my blog posts’ headlines.
Yes, I CAN buy Joe Pulizzi’s new book.
Yes, I CAN publish on Medium.com, Pulse, my blog, Quora and Inc.
Yes, I CAN develop a new product.
Yes, I CAN create (yet another) landing page.
But the real question is SHOULD I?
See, in the solopreneur world, we often feel overwhelmed because we mix up CAN and SHOULD.
This is a confusion I have not only experienced myself, but seen countless times in the mess my clients bring to me.
And you know where the problem is?
There’s always something new. There’s always something you can add to your to-do list. As entrepreneurs we are so hungry (and that’s a good thing!) that we always want more. And we feel unimaginable guilt when we decide to let go of something.
It’s like the fear of missing out.
“If I had just made this video sales letter, I’d have been able to get 1,000 leads…”
But, while the number of things you CAN do increases, the hours in your day–in your productive day–are a constant.
Sorry to break it to ya, but you just CAN’T do it all.
If you agree and are desperately looking for a way to break free from the overwhelm, let’s see how we can do that guilt-free.
I am going to share with you three of my favorite methods for breaking free from overwhelm.
Seth Godin’s Method For Breaking Free Of Overwhelm
The first one comes from the legendary Seth Godin, one of my favorite people. He says that in life a choice to say YES to something always means a choice to say NO to something else (or everything else).
Think marriage. Saying YES to one person, literally means you’re saying NO to all the rest (or at least that’s how it’s supposed to work). Saying YES to more than one person after getting married eventually breaks everything down.
Mr. Godin teaches us to apply the same principle to our work.
Let me give you an example.
If I have a blog but I’ve just read an amazing guide to podcasting, I might believe that podcasting is a great way to grow an audience for my business. My instinct would be to start working on it alongside writing for my blog. But according to Seth Godin, before I dive in, I need to ask myself:
“Am I ready to give up blogging to start podcasting?”
For most of us, the answer would be NO. And this is a sure sign that what we’re currently doing is a better fit for us. If the answer is YES, however, go for it! You might find your true medium.
Seth Godin teaches us to apply this technique to everything in life because we have limited resources, i.e. time is set.
Every time you rush to start something new, ask yourself, “What am I willing to give up?”
Overwhelm Is Typically A Solo Thing
The second technique I’d like to share with you is so simple, it’s silly: hire darn help!
You want both blogging & podcasting? Well, fine by me, but hire someone to do the podcasting production for you. Or do the editing of your articles for you.
Cut your effort proportionally to the new effort so you can fit both into your life… without feeling overwhelmed, screaming at your children, being sleep-deprived or forgetting your mom’s birthday (if you did that, you need help! :D)
If you can’t afford to hire help, that’s probably a sign that you’re not ready to grow bigger yet. Keep up with what you’re doing and postpone until you can share the workload.
And finally…. The Can-do vs. Should-do Technique
I discovered this method during meditation and I’ve been using it ever since.
It helps me stay focused, break free from overwhelm and feel great about it!
Normally, when I used to have a free minute in my home office, I would ask myself the question:
“What can I do now?”
Or I often read a great case study or success story and thought to myself:
“Can I do that, too?”
Those questions are great…BUT the verb is wrong
It’s not about what we CAN do, it’s about what we SHOULD do.
I can definitely eat five burgers, but should I do it? No!
You get the point….
The fact that we CAN do something, doesn’t mean we SHOULD do it.
As solopreneurs we are often trapped by the Can-do’s. Everything seems so doable, so easy, so simple with hundreds of articles outlining 11 steps to the perfect Facebook ad.
But should I even advertise on Facebook? Is my audience there? Do I have the budget for it?
There are many questions that should go into the decision to do something.
The CAN is just the beginning. And it’s an important one, because it gives us ideas, possibilities, opportunities.
That’s why I keep a list of all my Can-do’s. And trust me, it’s a long list. This is the list I go back to when I feel I SHOULD do something differently. But not everything on this list gets done, not by far!
When you feel inspired to do something more, add it to your Can-do list.
Ask yourself the tough question should I?
Make sure you justify the decision to your mind, not only to your ego that fears missing out on the next big thing.
Because Can-do isn’t Should-do.
I challenge you to try this technique in whatever area of your life you feel overwhelmed with.
You’re going to reduce the items on your to-do list significantly. You’ll break free from the overwhelm.
But better yet, you’ll feel inspired that you’re doing only the things that truly matter. You’ll feel lazer-focused, confident & empowered to say NO to the things that aren’t right for you. With ZERO guilt. Because when we know we have consciously chosen an option after carefully evaluating it, we can stand behind it, defend it and carry it through with the determination we need to succeed.
It’s just like marriage. When you choose because of love but only after answering all the tough questions, you feel like nothing can break your commitment. You know why you said YES and that gives you power.
In business, knowing why you choose one option over another is the most powerful tool for carrying through and feeling determined.
By breaking free from overwhelming, you’ll feel confident and empowered to achieve more while doing less.
Let’s stop the can-do’s and focus on the should-do’s.
And what about you? What is your remedy for overwhelming?