Sometimes too much of a good thing can be overwhelming and upsetting as when a bad thing happens. I know we’ve been experiencing a combination of both in our own organization and see it in our clients, too. So, what do we do when we are feeling overwhelmed, or our team is wondering how they can meet all our commitments and still have a personal life, too? A common response we hear in the firms we serve is, “It will all work out. It always does.” But to some, this can feel like fake positivity because our brains naturally want to know how we’re going to work out getting it all done. In this post, let’s explore some steps to get to an authentic place where you and your team can confidently say, “Everything’s going to be alright.”
First, let’s acknowledge all the various situations and activities that could be causing overwhelm. The list could include:
- An abundance of client opportunities
- You and/or colleagues enjoying PTO this summer
- Kids home from school or college creating disruption, more work, more opportunity for fun
- Personal illness or illness in your family
- Worry about the economy and whether it will hold
- Continued capacity or headcount challenges
- And there is more that you could add to this list!
We can usually handle a couple of these items at a time, and maybe several for a short period of time, but if they occur in high volume over a sustained period of time, stress or fear about whether it will be okay can ensue. We have to be careful not to invalidate any feelings of overwhelm, frustration, worry, or disbelief. They are all valid feelings. Better Up calls this toxic positivity - the tendency to put “pressure to only display positive emotions, suppressing any negative emotions, feelings, reactions, or experiences.” We should allow real emotions to be felt and expressed, in a constructive way, and we don’t have to dwell on them.
Instead, take these five steps to reduce the swirl and Monkey Mind inner chatter that perpetuates the overwhelm and feelings that you can’t it all get done and that failure is around the corner:
1) Make a list of “what’s so” – this includes client commitments, new prospect opportunities, upcoming team member vacations (including yours), personal situations that might be consuming you or team members like an ill parent or summer camp carpooling, etc.
2) Prioritize the list and identify those you should action and those you might defer or say no to – It’s helpful to compare lists with your team members. Sometimes you or someone on your team may feel like something on their to-do list is a burning hot potato, and others think it can be pushed to a later date. Comparing notes can make space for delegation. It also allows you to agree on the most important items that need attention right now.
3) Identify your next step in the prioritized items – we all know the answer to, “How do you eat an elephant?” One bite at a time. Yes, we don’t always tackle client engagements, internal initiatives, or home projects that way. We feel like we have to tackle the entire elephant. Instead, identify what the next action is, who is taking that action, and by when. Then you can add steps and a timeline from there.
4) Reset expectations or politely communicate “no, not now” - for the items you and your team agree are not a priority or you can’t fit into the schedule right now, reach out and communicate to the appropriate stakeholders. Reset expectations with a new timeline for those items you’re still committed to. Inform others that your capacity doesn’t allow you to take on a new project right now for those that won’t fit so you can close the loop. If you’re interested in the future, you can let them know that, otherwise just politely say no and walk away so it’s not lingering for you or them. Read this blog for more ideas on The Art of Saying No.
5) Give yourself and others grace – at ConvergenceCoaching, we often say to each other, we are blessed – blessed with an abundance of client opportunities, internal projects, full families and personal lives, and more. We are blessed to be of service to others. And that gratitude can cause us to give too many yeses and get ourselves into situations where we have to reprioritize, reset expectations, and sometimes say no. And we should give ourselves and each other permission and the grace to do so, especially when we come together as a team and revise our priorities.
Taking these five steps together as a team will leave you truly able to say, “We’ve got this!” And, when needed, you can always sing the lyrics to this song, because everything’s gonna be alright!
🎵 “Everything's gonna be alright
Everything's gonna be alright
Nobody's gotta worry 'bout nothing
Don't go hitting that panic button
It ain't near as bad as you think
Everything's gonna be alright” 🎵
~David Lee Murphy and Kenny Chesney