Overwhelming Odds

Posted on November 2, 2009
Are you feeling overwhelmed?

Are you feeling overwhelmed?

How often does your list of  ‘to do’s’ exceed your capacity to actually get the tasks completed? Does the list seem overwhelming, or do YOU feel overwhelmed by the list?

Understanding the difference between the two and then learning to manage the overwhelming feeling is one key to surviving and conquering Business Attention Deficit Disorder.

In the 14th century, the verb ‘overwhelm’ literally meant to turn over, to cover up and to cover over completely. In other words, a ‘thing’ could be overwhelmed. An army for instance could be overwhelmed by another army,  they would be overcome by a superior force or by greater numbers and be defeated.

Today, ‘overwhelm’ has been expanded to include a force that overpowers someone, either someone else or ourselves, either physically or emotionally.

So what is this force; this feeling of being overwhelmed? The force is an emotion linked to a feeling that whatever is to be done is more than what can be accomplished either by time or people or resources. That emotion is fear.

We create feelings of fear that there’s not enough time or enough resources based on what we think  which may or may not be the reality. The feeling of being overwhelmed is directly caused by us, ignoring or avoiding that which we fear.

This nagging, annoying, struggling, overwhelming feeling can continue to haunt us every day, and sometimes every hour or every minute. And that’s when stress and pressure start to show on us and in our business.

This pressure, this constant state of worry and urgency, often means we stall. We stall about making the decision on that which is overwhelming us. We procrastinate because it’s the THOUGHT of tackling the work, the project, the task that causes us to feel overwhelmed, to feel stressed, and to be fearful.

This feeling, if left unchecked, builds mind fatigue and eventually, body fatigue. And when we’re fatigued we’re not at our best and our business is not at its best. By not tackling the work, the project, the task, our business suffers from Business Attention Deficit Disorder.

What can we do to help us fight through the overwhelming feeling? What strategies that will allow us to work through the fear without becoming overwhelmed by the fear.

The process that works for me involves taking one baby step. When I’m feeling overwhelmed I take a deep breath and state what I’m feeling overwhelmed about. Then I state the first, easy result I can get by doing something. And you know what? The overwhelming feeling I had, starts to disappear.

Once I’ve completed the baby step I need a reward (and you should have one too!). My personal favourite is Kool and the Gang’s Celebration video on YouTube. I play that video every time I take a baby step. Someday I know that having played the song enough times I’ll associate all my overwhelming feelings with a celebration of how good it feels to take those steps.

It seems to have taken me a long time to figure this out. Some days it’s slow plodding through the procrastination to break free of the fear. But I know it’s worth it. Not only do I celebrate my steps, I’ve discovered the loss of the overwhelming feeling, the loss of the fear, has become another victory in the fight against Business Attention Deficit Disorder.

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