Increasingly common in the world of business today I hear clients say, “more and more keeps getting piled on my plate, but nothing is coming off. I’m so overwhelmed!” Sound familiar?
The truth is, no matter what is going on in our lives, each event, activity, project at work or conversation with a colleague or acquaintance is going to make us feel a different way.
You may have noticed that sometimes you have ONE thing to do, but you resist, you suffer, you feel overwhelmed and stressed about it. Perhaps you don’t know where to start and are even frozen or paralyzed from taking any action. Then other times, you have three, four or more things to get done and you’re excited, energized, and can’t wait to get started on them.
Why is that? What’s is the difference?
Everything we work on shows up differently for us, or, said differently, shows up in a particular context. If the work seems like an interruption or more than you’re capable of doing, then the context in which you approach your work could be that of being defeated, being in over your head, or some version of being at the effect of your circumstances.
If the work occurs as an exciting, juicy challenge, then the context may be one of learning, growing, expanding your capacity and value to your organization.
I have a secret, though. You can create a new context for anything you’re working on, but only if you’re bold enough to create it. Next time you’re starting to feel overwhelmed about something you’re working on, take a few minutes and follow these steps.
- Awareness – notice when you’re “overwhelmed”
Listen to your conversations with others, and with yourself. What are you saying about being overwhelmed? How much of that is factual and how much is based on a belief, a past experience, a fear or concern?
- Identify – the context in which you’re operating.
Notice your physical, mental, emotional reactions. Notice how these thoughts and feelings, while in the background, are very much shaping your actions or inactions.
- Create a new context that compels you.
Create an empowering context for what you’re working on. One of the easiest ways is to create each task you’re working on as an accomplishment instead of a task to be completed. Here’s an example: instead of “complete the status report” being the context, make it an accomplishment by relating to it in the context of “my team is completely up to date, and I am running this project efficiently.” You’re now operating in the context of being a leader of people who efficiently runs projects, instead of someone who completes status reports.