Often when I teach about overcoming overwhelm there are a couple of people in the group who feel that within their particular industry overwhelm is simply unavoidable.
They believe overwhelm is just a fact of life.
But there is a way out of overwhelm.
The antidote to overwhelm is choice.
Each time you feel overwhelmed, you are being granted an opportunity to make a choice. One that will bring greater ease and space into your life.
The true issue is: we don’t want to choose our choice. We don’t like the options. Or we want to have it all without the trade-offs. We want zero downsides.
Let’s say you’re a lawyer and the insufferable hours seem unavoidable and the overwhelm seems inevitable.
What choices could you make to reduce your overwhelm? Where else in your life can you scale back so you can be more present for your priorities?
You may have choices about:
- Whether you should continue to Chair your child’s PTA
- Whether you should host all the family birthdays in your home
- How much time you spend “winding down” with 32 Netflix episodes in a row
- If it’s really the right year to pursue further qualifications
Many of these decisions are uncomfortable. Like letting go of a part of who you want to be or a crutch of some sort.
But discomfort is the key to your breakthrough. It’s pointing the way to your growth edge.
Here’s the truth:
If you don’t make the choice YOURSELF, your situation will CHOOSE FOR YOU.
And your situation isn’t going to honor your values and priorities like you will.
Now here’s the mother of all choices, the mother of all scale-backs: You could choose to leave.
That choice is always available to you.
Which is why Seth Godin says in this quick and awesome read The Dip:
It’s best to define your exit criteria before you start.
You don’t see as clearly once you’re neck-deep at work.
Your loyalty may prevent you from making decisions that honor your more important values, like your health or family.
Or you’re so burned-out that even little things are triggering you to find an escape route.
Before you start a job, you have fresh eyes and can evaluate at what point you would leave.
- if the requisite hours pass 12 per day
- if you are unable to progress professionally within two years
- if the on-call rotation consistently lacks the flexibility to accommodate your family’s needs
- if you dread it despite multiple, ongoing efforts to engage a different state of mind
- if the culture is corrupt or counters your own values
File your criteria away and check back with it periodically.
If you’re already in a job and wondering what your exit criteria might be, the best time to determine it would be after a long vacation and/or full immersion in the things that are important to you. At that time, you’re more aligned and less overwhelmed and better able to make choices that are best for YOU.
What are your exit criteria? What things are non-negotiable for you at work?
Let us know in the comments below.