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

overwhelemd

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?

Stop-multitasking/multi-thinking

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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Self-Importance and the Death of Success

Self-Importance and the Death of Success

Every Wednesday I shoot an episode of The Only Real Estate Podcast Worth Listening To with two other leaders in the real estate industry. It’s the highlight of my week and we’ve gained a pretty serious following in the 13 months we’ve been at it. I’m not quite used to other industry professionals associating my name with something like a popular podcast or recognizing me at industry events and wanting to talk about it. It’s a cool feeling knowing that people enjoy what we’re putting out. And I wish I could say it was all part of some grand vision that we had from the outset.

The truth is, we had next to no idea what we were doing when we started. And I’m far from immune to the kind of natural, internal egoism that keeps human beings from attempting any sort of feat they fear may make them look or feel anything less than entirely competent. So, it was tough; it was scary. But then something amazing happened. No one cared. I mean like, not even a little. First episode, second, third, no one was watching, or paying any sort of attention. From the outside looking in, that sounds like a complete and utter failure. But there was something refreshing about it. If no one was watching, that meant no one was judging, no one was laughing. No one was thinking whatever it is we’re afraid they will when we go out on a limb or step outside our comfort zone. But while we didn’t have much of any audience, our comfortability was beginning to build.

It turns out, it’s pretty easy to get used to something you’re not great at when no one is there to tell you you’re bad. You start to have fun with it. You embrace it. And by the time anyone takes notice, you’re past the point of self-consciousness. What started off as three guys talking about real estate in a garage in North Dallas, has slowly morphed into one of the top 50 business podcasts on iTunes.

But what if that hadn’t happened? What if it hadn’t taken off? What if people hated it? Would that have changed anything?

Here’s what I’ve learned about that creeping fear that holds us back from pursuing the things at which we dream of succeeding. That fear is simply vanity disguising itself as legitimate concern. It’s irrational, unfounded and hollow. The only thing we fear is how we’ll be received. How we’ll be viewed in failure. How we’ll be judged when we come up short. The one universal truth to accept about this kind of self-doubt is that you’re simply not important enough to give in to it. That may sound a bit harsh, but it’s a definitive certainty. Unless you’re something comparable to a world leader, no one person’s failures have a resounding effect on others. No one person is that important in their pursuit of achievement.

The people to whom your success actually matters, say, your spouse, kids, etc. are far more likely to be supportive though your growth phase. What we really fear is failing in front of others. It’s sheer, self-indulgent pride that holds us back. Only when we accept that the world at large truly doesn’t care whether or not we achieve greatness are we able to expand our comfort zone with impunity.

It’s counterintuitive to say the least, but I fundamentally believe that the best advice anyone can give on the topic is to remember that humanity does not exist to feed your desire for positive attention. Conversely, it doesn’t exist to deny it, either. That’s something to embrace. Because it means that failure is simply a matter of perception, rather than fact. We can only fail if we accept that as the case.

That means the choice is yours. You can continue to procrastinate, suffering chronically from analysis paralysis, or you can take hold of the idea that your failures are not headline news and allow them to become a mere footnote in your broader story. Let them become the catalyst of your success rather than a detraction from it. Failure is an invented notion that binds perfectly capable people to a life of mediocrity. The ability to rise above its detrimental effects is gained purely from willing choice. That choice is yours alone.

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What If You Just Did What You’re Supposed To?

What If You Just Did What You’re Supposed To?

I learned how to change my own oil last year. It was a pretty big moment for a guy that needs an assistant to heat up his lunch properly.

But rather than the prototypical father-son bonding exercise most of us would picture when imagining such learning experiences. My education took a different shape. I Youtube’d it. Just watched a video and learned how to do it in like five minutes. Then I watched the related videos and learned how to do a bunch of other stuff. The reason I’m telling you this story isn’t just because I like talking about my Master Mechanic’s education, but also to make a point about the ease by which we’re able to access information and transform that knowledge into action. The speed by which the modern man is capable of implementing new ideas is amazing at least, Matrix-esque at best. Gone are the days when acquiring a new skill was a pre-requisite to actually using it. The current era is all about taking the leap, and building the plane on the way down. 

For entrepreneurs in the beginning phases of a new venture, this can be thrilling news. The ability to innovate, iterate and work efficiently while gathering knowledge and immediately taking action speeds up the feedback loop and has resulted in the most incredible product landscape the world has ever seen. But, as with any advancement, there are side effects to this kind of progress.

The fact is, as the barriers to entry are reduced, so are the favorite excuses we like to make about why we’re not able to accomplish our goals. Because even when we know what we’re doing, it takes a lot of hard work. We’re asked to sacrifice a lot in the name of personal achievement. Time that could be spent on the couch or in bed. So it makes life easier knowing that we don’t possess the necessary resources to realize our vision.

But what happens when we don’t have that excuse? What happens when the only thing we need to be successful in our endeavors is a bit of resourcefulness and the will to take massive action? This is the litmus test facing today’s entrepreneur. The barriers have been removed, the tools are readily available, all he has to do is take action.

Still, for some of us, taking action means staying busy with any and everything but what we need to be doing. We keep ourselves occupied with task-oriented nonsense in order to distract ourselves from the lingering idea that work is just hard and we don’t particularly care for the grind of it. And that’s certainly a relatable outlook, it just won’t get you very far. So instead, ask yourself this…what if you just did what you’re supposed to do?

I mean it. What if you just woke up tomorrow and did exactly what you knew you needed to do that day to move closer to your goal? Is it scheduling a meeting that’s way out of your comfort zone? Trying to raise capital for a project? Or simply getting yourself to the gym for a solid workout? 

What if you did everything on your to-do list? No exceptions. How would that feel? Would it hurt? Would you find yourself riling in pain, regretting the fateful moment when you tried to accomplish something of value? Or would it feel good? Would it satisfy you? Prove that you have nothing to be scared of and leave you hungry for more?

The amount of excuses we’re reasonably allowed to make is in direct proportion to the amount of resources readily available to us. That ratio is quickly becoming distinctly lopsided. There are simply too many resources readily available to us to make excuses for not, at the very least, moving in the right direction each day. It’s a lack of sheer will that holds us back.

So make today the day. The day you take action. The day you leave it all out on the field. The day you throw away the excuses and embrace the fact that the only thing standing in your way, is you. 

Take that massive action. You’re bound to wake up to a more fulfilling tomorrow.

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Why you’ll never make enough money…

money

Why you’ll never make enough money…

I think we can all agree the most miraculous usable feature of our smartphones is the built-in argument settler. I mean, can you imagine a world in which you can’t immediately prove to your buddy how stupid he is for thinking Miami is the capital of Florida, or that Michael Jordan is the NBA’s all-time leading scorer?

It would be chaos.

But while the ability to access an ever-expanding database of information at any moment from the palm of your hand is impressive, the mere existence of the world’s most frequently accessed directory on all things relevant is, in and of itself, downright crazy beans.

Picture this, an online encyclopedic database, built by the world’s largest technology company and maintained by an expansive team of engineers, scholars and statisticians, working around the clock with the explicit purpose of giving anyone with an internet connection the ability to find usable information on any issue imaginable at the click of a button.

Pretty cool right? Now picture this product rapidly losing market share to a collaborative project of anonymous users from around the world writing articles on whatever topics are of interest to them with no monetary compensation involved whatsoever.

The slaying of Encarta by Wikipedia is perhaps the most tangible example of the power of intrinsic human motivation. The fact is, there are very few great things that happen in this world as a result of purely financial compensation.

The genesis of even the most successful corporations is the very human desire for fulfillment. It’s this craving to affect the world, absent any guarantee of financial gain, that drives entrepreneurs to act on their vision. It’s also the reason most people hate their jobs.

The amount of satisfaction that can be derived from purely wealth-based means is finite. It’s not necessarily true that money can’t buy happiness, it’s more so true that it can only enhance an already inherently gratifying existence.

The bottom line is that you can never make enough money to enjoy doing anything that wouldn’t be of interest to you otherwise. And that’s for real, son.

Its also true that you’ll never work as hard at something you have no intrinsic attachment to as you will at something you find interesting or enjoyable on its own. So if you don’t care for your work, the financial upside will always be limited.

The reason Wikipedia has helped shape the modern world is that its contributors genuinely enjoy being a part of it. In fact, if the organization were to start paying those that submit articles it’s likely their willingness to contribute would be significantly diminished. (For a more thorough argument regarding the use of extrinsic reward as a productive hindrance read Daniel H. Pink’s Drive)

That’s not to say that being well-compensated is a deterrent. Rather, compensation operates outside the correlation between motivation and fulfillment. Money can only make you happy in the short-term because human beings are incredibly skilled at adjusting to their environment.

There is nothing that can be purchased that will provide ever-lasting satisfaction and so the pursuit of financial gain through means that we don’t find satisfying in themselves is inescapably fruitless on a longer time horizon.

The bottom line is that if you’re not happy with your job, it’s not because you’re underpaid. Find what motivates you, what enthralls you, and strive to live within a dynamic that fulfills you chiefly through action and experience, and only secondarily through financial gain.

Your soul, as well as your wallet, will thank you.

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More articles from Brian:

Advice
Brian Force

Self-Importance and the Death of Success

It’s counterintuitive to say the least, but I fundamentally believe that the best advice anyone can give on the topic is to remember that humanity does not exist to feed your desire for positive attention. Conversely, it doesn’t exist to deny it, either. That’s something to embrace. Because it means that failure is simply a matter of perception, rather than fact. We can only fail if we accept that as the case.

Read More »
Failure is a slice of pizza
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Brian Force

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But what happens when we don’t have that excuse? What happens when the only thing we need to be successful in our endeavors is a bit of resourcefulness and the will to take massive action? This is the litmus test facing today’s entrepreneur. The barriers have been removed, the tools are readily available, all he has to do is take action.

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Opportunity is the most expensive commodity you can buy

Opportunity is the most expensive commodity you can buy

There’s an old financial adage that lays out the groundwork for long-term prosperity by asking the subject to take every dollar he spends eating out and, instead, invest it. (If you skipped your morning Starbucks and put that money into a total market index fund, in thirty years you would have fifty-bajillion dollars!)

It’s a valid point to make about financial prudence, but often it’s met with arguments regarding quality of life versus monetary saturation. And the counterpoint about enjoying the money one earns in a reasonable and responsible fashion as to find a sense of daily fulfillment holds a certain validity as well. But it would be foolish to overlook the underlying theme of that analogy. That is, if you want to get to where you wish to go, you’ll be required to make sacrifices.

(more…)