How to turn 'overwhelm' into actionable goals
Is feeling overwhelmed something you can relate to? Is the 'to do' list taking on a life of its own?
2020 feels like a time of uncertainty, underpinned with a desire (and need) for change on all levels. There is a clear theme which is coming through in both coaching conversations and day-to-day talk with friends and colleagues, and that is a theme of people feeling ‘overwhelmed’.
Firstly, this is a completely reasonable and normal response to our current circumstances – most of us have had to adapt to overnight change, which we weren’t expecting and this change has hugely increased the need for multi-tasking. Work-life balance has become harder to manage for many people. We are also being asked to process a lot of new information (the pace of which is difficult to keep up with and understand). In addition to this a lot of us are making some pretty big decisions about how we live, our careers and how we will approach the uncertain future. So, yep, overwhelm, is a completely reasonable response!
Secondly, and this is good news, whilst we can’t control the pace and level of change, we can make an active choice as to how we manage the change. The idea is to take all of the elements which feel like a whirlwind of information and the endless list of ‘stuff that needs doing’ and break it down into smaller, more manageable and actionable goals.
Create actionable goals
If you want to have a go at prioritising and adding some structure to the changes you face then the following questions will be helpful;
- What is your goal? (Try to define your goal in one clear, specific sentence)
- Why is it important to you?
- What does it give you? (Security, peace of mind, financial stability, work/life balance etc.)
- How will you know when you have achieved your goal? (What will look, feel and be different?)
- How high on your ‘priority list’ is this goal? (Is this a ‘burning bridge’ or more of a long term focus?)
- Who could I discuss this with/who could support me with this?
- What is a realistic first step towards goal number 1.
Identify positive/negative habits
Outside of the actionable/practical goals, it is worth reflecting on and reconsidering some of our habits. Consider which habits are helpful and serve us well, and which are less helpful or adding to ‘overwhelm’. Make a note of these habits and try to review them regularly.
Some examples on my ‘helpful’ list are:
- Clear and routine sleep patterns (early nights mid-week to compensate for toddler alarm clock).
- Scheduled outdoor time/fresh air/beach.
- Have clear boundaries between work time and family time (particularly important if you now have a home office in the kitchen).
Some examples on my ‘less-helpful’ list are:
- Social media/accessing the ‘news’ – I have really had to limit both of these, particularly negative stories and definitely before sleep.
- Having unrealistic expectations around my levels of productivity - there is a lot to ‘juggle’ and some days things won’t get done in our ideal time frames and that needs to be ok).
- Letting myself eat too much cheese/chocolate/crisps then giving myself a hard time – either eat the cheese and enjoy it or don’t eat it… this is work in progress for me!
I hope that some of this is helpful and you can put these ideas into action. If you would like someone to chat through your goals with and bounce ideas off then consider contacting a life coach.
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