Last week I posted on Instagram that I feel overwhelmed some days. I wrote this:
Some days I wake up with so many things I want to do that I feel sort of overwhelmed with where to start. Those are the days I know to take a second to find the ground beneath me. I think I’m a heart and head in the clouds type of personality and it’s easy to get carried away with dreaming when there are so many opportunities that excite me. Dreams give us hope, but feeling the feelings that let us know we are alive in our day to day give us meaning. I promise there’s a time and place for both your roots and wings.
I always love the reactions I receive from all of you, but this one was extra special. I found out that so many of you are creative business owners or artists struggling with overwhelm too! We’re all so driven and excited that we make ourselves feel a little stuck before even starting our days. I guess we’re all in this together, eh?
One of my friends commented on this post: “I’ve recently been reminded that although there’s always room to grow, it’s important to be present where I’m at too.”
I think this is such an important lesson. When we are excited about the future, it’s hard to sit still in the present. It’s great to have goals, but when our lists grow a little too long, the challenge is figuring out where to start. The challenge is staying calm. The challenge is enjoying what we already have without anticipating the future.
Having been in that place quite a few times, I’ve come up with a bit of a system. I use these 3 actions to bring my feet back to the ground when my heart floats a little too high for my mind to bear.
Make a list of your daily, weekly, monthly priorities. Sometimes I go as far as to separate these between areas of my life.
For example, I have a list of client work priorities that breaks deadlines down into smaller milestones to complete along the way. I also have a wish-list of to-dos for my blog and business. There’s the tasks that need to be done, the larger goals, and the smaller milestones to reach those big dreams. Sometimes I even have a life to-do list on the go because I’m realizing that adulting never gets easier.
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Your dreams need decades to reach their peak. Smaller, more manageable tasks make it possible to start on something right now without feeling overwhelmed by the enormity of a goal (or all the goals!).
That’s right—I said it! Take a break. Learn when to rest. Rest when you feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of things you want to do. You (and your business) will be better for it! Return to your prioritized to-do list (wish-list, vision board, goals) refreshed and ready to chip away at it day by day.
A rest could be 20 minutes mid-day or taking an entire day off if you need to. I try to let myself take Monday mornings slow like a scheduled break before the week starts. If it’s been a long week, sometimes I work extra late on Thursdays, so I can clock out early on Friday afternoon. Take time off even when you don’t necessarily want to. Find calm in the present.
What counts as a break? Unplug. Do something you love to do purely for fun, not something that will bring you closer to your business or creative goals. This looks different for everyone! I read a non-business book. I get outside, if not on an adventure, at least around the neighbourhood with my pup. Hot yoga is another favourite or sometimes I just take a nap because I can. The perks of working for yourself!
Sometimes the overwhelm from a long wish list ignores the number of things I’ve already accomplished. I’ve done a lot in the last year. I’ve done even more in the last four years. Reflecting on how far I’ve come helps me find solid ground again.
What’s the point of moving forward if you can’t appreciate the present?
My fellow creatives: Do you have any tips for overcoming overwhelm? You know I think we’re all better off when we share our experiences. Leave your tips below, or comment on this post back over on Instagram!
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