Oh my goodness, overwhelm. Where to even start…!
As entrepreneurs and people with a passion to change the world, there comes with it a certain creativity that seems to give us all the ideas. And then we add into that the urgency of our higher purpose, the need to right wrongs and create a better world, and it’s easy to see why we can quickly become overwhelmed.
Overwhelm can lead to paralysis, and can stop us moving forwards and taking action on the things that matter. There are so many things to do that we end up doing none of them, and then getting demoralised and de-motivated. Not a good place to be.
Luckily there is a really simple tool that can help us to break out of that state of overwhelm and create a road-map and a clear way forwards.
But before we start, this might be a useful reminder…
The Wheel of Life is a really popular coaching tool, and deservedly so. Like many things, it’s beauty (and it’s usefulness) lies in it’s simplicity, and the fact that it can be adapted to pretty much any area of our lives. This might seem like a long post for a simple tool, but do stick with it, it almost takes longer to explain that it does to do!
Create your Wheel
The basic idea is that you take a circle, and divide it up into segments, each of which represents an area of your life, business, project, blog etc. So a Life Wheel might include family, finances, career, social life etc. And an ethical business wheel might include values/mission, sales, marketing, online platform etc. Just this simple act of thinking about all the different areas that make up our lives, or our businesses can be really clarifying.
Define your 10/10
For each segment of the wheel, take some time to think about what your 10/10 would look like – if everything in this area was exactly as you want it to be, what would be happening? What would it look like? How would you be feeling? What would people be saying to you? Come up with 3 (or more) bullet-points that define your 10/10 and give you something measurable to aim for. For example if you were looking at social media for your enterprise or project, your 10/10 might be: x Facebook likes, y Twitter followers, z Instagram followers. Or it might be to have started a Facebook group and for it to have x members in it etc.
Where are you right now?
Once you have done that, think about where you are now, with respect to that 10/10. Are you just starting and feel like a 1 or a 2? Or are you so very nearly there, and at a 9? Wherever you are, there is no judgement, there is no right or wrong, you are where you are, and we start from there.
Draw a line for where you are now, and do this for each segment.
Now at this stage, the whole thing might actually be feeling more overwhelming, rather than less. You start seeing the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in all the different areas of your life/business, and if you are anything like me, that could start to make you feel a little panicky and despondent. But fear not!
Have a look at each of the segments on your wheel and prioritise them. Which does it feel most important to start work on first? Where could you make the most progress the quickest? Which would start bringing in income? Are there ones that need to be done before you can move other areas forwards?
Pick just 2 or 3 areas (segments of your wheel) that you want to focus on first.
Brainstorm potential actions
For each of these segments, think about the things that you could do that would move you one step forwards, so from a 3 to a 4, or a 7 to an 8.
At this stage, these are just options, you don’t have to commit!
Again, come up with 3 bullets points for each segment for things you could do.
Take a look at these options. Is there one that is jumping at you crying “pick me!”? Is there one that’s easy to rule out? Is there one that will move your the furthest forwards, but feels a bit scary?
From your options, pick one thing for each of your 2-3 focus segments that you WILL do in the next 24-48hours that will have a positive impact on that area of your business or life. It doesn’t have to move you all the way from a 3 to 4, or a 7 to an 8, but one thing that you can and will do in the next 24-48hrs. The key is taking action, so no matter how small the step, commit to taking it!
Write it down, and put it in your diary. Think about when you will fit it in – be as specific as possible (this makes it so much more likely you will stick to it!).
Then pick one thing that you WILL do over the next 2-3 weeks that will have a positive impact. Again, write it down and pin yourself down to a date and time in your diary.
Now you have 2 or 3 actions to take in the next 24-48hrs, and another 2 or 3 to take in the next 2-3 weeks, and you are committed to taking them. You are taking real, positive steps forwards, no matter how small, and you can see that the steps you are taking are clearly moving you towards your 10/10 for that particular area.
The key to overwhelm is breaking things down. Zooming in so that you can start to make out the wood that makes up the trees. Accepting that you can’t do it all, at least not right now, but that there are steps that you can take right now, that will move your forwards. And moving forwards is what we are aiming for. Remember, it’s all about progress, not perfection.
And don’t think you can leave your Wheel there. It is not only a great tool for helping to clarify where your business is and how you want to start moving forwards, but also to review your progress. Take a look at your wheel every 2-3 months to see what progress you have made, what things you might still need to be working on, and to remind yourself of how far you’ve come!
I hope this has helped anyone who is sat in that space of overwhelm, struggling to move forwards and create the changes and the difference that they know they are capable of.
I’d love to hear about some of the other tools and techniques you find useful to help deal with overwhelm – do leave a comment below to let me know!