Into every Maker Business, a little Overwhelm must fall. Dictionary.com defines “overwhelmed” as “to overcome completely in mind or feeling.” Yep. That's what I mean.
As entrepreneurs, we cannot completely eliminate overwhelm. It's part of the entrepreneurial lifestyle. In fact, if you are not somewhat overwhelmed from time to time, you may be on your way to becoming irrelevant.
Donna Maria, Indie Business Network
Thankfully, I have managed to minimize overwhelm by learning to recognize my own personal signs of overwhelm in advance. This gives me a huge advantage because I can respond to overwhelm before it actually happens, thus preserving my energy and avoiding prolonged irritability and a generally unpleasant attitude. There is great power in doing this, so I wanted to share my approach with you.
6 Ways to Embrace Overwhelm Without Being Overwhelmed
You can take steps to embrace a reasonable amount of overwhelm without doing harm to yourself or your business. Here are six ways to make it happen. I’ve seen these work in my own life and also the lives of people I’ve coached and mentored.
1. Keep up With Technology
Many of the Indie Business Network members and clients I work with and observe are in a constant state of overwhelm because of technology. Since technology becomes more important every day to the success of your business, the only way to avoid overwhelm in this area is to set aside weekly time to keep up with technology.
There are lots of options here, but I suggest starting with subscribing to everything published by Social Media Examiner and HubSpot. Have their blogs and emails delivered to a marked email folder so they don't clutter up your inbox, and set aside time each week to catch up on the things that seem relevant to you business. If you'd like, follow them on Twitter and Facebook for added reinforcement.
Doing this will keep you in the loop on things that matter, and it will also help you avoid listening to everything and everybody talking about social media — because if you do that, your overwhelm will quickly move into overdrive.
I am not suggesting you may not need personal one-on-one assistance because you might. But this step will help you figure out what you need to know and do, so you can quickly determine whether you need help or whether you can do all or most things yourself.
2. Let Some Things (and/or People) Go
Managing a business is stressful. In my experience, it's good stress because it means you are continuously pushing yourself to do and be better. There are times when other things in our lives can interfere with that process in a negative way, and that's when you start moving toward the overwhelm zone.
The only way to alleviate this pressure is to minimize the things and the people causing it. This may mean changing the nature of some relationships. It may mean eliminating them altogether. Only you know.
Be intentional about this. For example, if your marriage has hit a rough patch, I'm not suggesting that you get a divorce or stop speaking to your spouse. I am suggesting that you may need to temporarily change the way you approach the relationship so the challenged in the relationship do not cause your business to implode.
This can be tricky. One way to avoid overwhelm in this area is to get professional help, if needed, in advance if possible.
3. Find Your Sweet Spot
Your sweet spot is that sacred space in your life that supports both what you love to do and what you need in order to live the lifestyle you want to live. Your sweet spot is fun and fulfilling, and it makes you money. Stay in this zone as much as possible to minimize overwhelm.
Do not say “yes” to things your gut tells you will make you crazy.
Do not customize a product for someone who wants to haggle about your custom price options.
If you hate list building and newsletter publishing, hire a VA or social media assistant to help you do it (because you need a newsletter).
Avoid everything you dislike as much as possible, and work hard to attract what you do like. Stay in that wonderful place as much as you can. Doing so won't make life problem free, but it will make it a whole lot sweeter.
4. Identify What You Need to Work at Your Best
Do you need to go to bed at a certain hour to be alert and on fire for your customers in the morning? Do that, and set up your life so you can tell your family members not to interfere with that time frame. (This is obviously not possible if you have babies and small children, I get that. But you can hire help or work with your partner to ensure that you get the rest you need on as many days as you possibly can each week. That's not too much to ask.)
Do you need to work out every morning? Do that. Do you need to take a few days off every month and head to a local hotel to refresh and revive yourself? Do that.
Study yourself and observe what times of day or night, and what days of the week, you get your best work done, and organize your life around that. Doing this regularly will help minimize overwhelm altogether.
5. Give Yourself a Daily Gift
Do something every day to recognize your personal value and what an asset you are to your business. Without you, none of it happens. So, without judgement, gift yourself. Whether it's a scoop of ice cream or a bottle of new nail polish, give yourself something wonderful every day … something just for you and for you only. These tiny pieces of joy provide contentment and reward, and will help you feel less burdened when overwhelm does come your way.
6. Don't Fight It
When overwhelm comes, the more you fight it, the worse it gets. While I am not suggesting you jump for joy when you are overwhelmed, embracing it a bit as part of the entrepreneurial lifestyle is a way to express gratitude for the opportunity you have to own and manage a business of your own.
Breathe into it, as you also use some of the suggestions here to avoid it as much as possible in the future.
As an entrepreneur, you will either be overwhelmed all of the time, or you will be overwhelmed some of the time.
Make it a goal to aim for “overwhelmed some of the time.”
Practicing these steps or some variation of them, will help you achieve that goal.
How do you embrace entrepreneurial overwhelm? What tips and strategies can you share with us? Please share your experience and feedback in the comments below, or share on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.