Here’s Why You’re Feeling Overwhelmed (and how to control it)

It’s 3 A.M. and you’re doing that thing where you look at the clock and think about how many hours of sleep you’ll get if you start right now. It’s the first day of the second quarter and you’re nowhere near the pace you need to be to hit your goals. You think about how much time you have to make up the ground and get back on track to have the year you promised yourself you’d have.

Why are you like this? Why are we, us humans, like this? Why can’t we keep the promises we make to ourselves? Why are we so good at setting goals, painting vivid pictures of the people that we want to be, yet we not only stumble on the most menial of road blocks, we fall face first, and worse, we stay down and work on convincing ourselves that walking upright isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. 

The truth is, we set such massive goals for ourselves that just the thought of figuring out where to start can be panic inducing. Most of us just aren’t wired with the kind of spatial reasoning ability necessary to see our grand visions already pieced together with a working map of each step along the way. To compound matters, the one thing we do know is that a lot of the steps are going to require us to step far outside our comfort zones and begin to become the people we need to be to accomplish what we’ve set out to. So, without the promise of guidance, nor the comfort of self-assuredness, analysis paralysis rears its ugly head and we end up getting next to nothing done while feeling the full, exhaustive weight of putting forth our maximum effort.

If you’re resonating with this, here are some tips to get you out of your own way, to stop succumbing to your overwhelm, and to start making the progress you’re looking for:

Embrace It

A favorite quip of mine during meetings with my team is asking them if they would read a book about themselves. The most compelling stories are ones that involve overcoming adversity.  No one wants to read a book about a know-it-all that had it all and never had to work for it. Embrace the fact that any given day can be the first chapter of your incredible story. It most certainly will be one of overcoming the odds, but would you really have it any other way?


Whether you’re physically trying to do a million things at once or just constantly thinking about the million things you need to do, you’re doing yourself absolutely no favors. You will never accomplish everything you need to do at once and if you frame everything as one complete task, rather than bite-sized pieces of a larger puzzle, there’s a good chance you’ll give up before building enough momentum to see any success. Hone your focus on one step at a time. Whatever it is that you can do today, do it. That doesn’t mean what you’re doing today will be easy but removing the overwhelm of all the other steps reduces the chances of you making excuses and spinning your wheels.

Free Your Mind

This is going to sound harsh, but I want you to let it wash over you. Nothing you do is important enough to be overwhelmed by. I know that doesn’t sound inspiring, but it should be. On a very primitive level, we’re just a bunch of aliens hurtling through space at like a bajillion miles an hour and we don’t really even know why. I’m not saying nothing you do matters, don’t go start knocking off banks and blaming my blog. But it is valuable, if we can be honest with ourselves, to remember that when we’re dead and gone, one’s going to remember or care about the things that held us back. No one will care about our excuses and honestly, just as little about our success. The people that your success matters to are likely very supportive and encouraging, everyone else is irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. So, don’t be held down by the opinions of others. Not only because you owe it to yourself not to be, but also because the universe cares as little about their judgement as it does about every other random piece of space dust floating around in the ether.

You’ll never be a finished product, nor will the vision you have for your life. The important thing is that you stop being your own biggest obstacle and start tackling the mountain one foothold at a time.

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