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I deal with A LOT of overwhelm, both personally and professionally, and even the tiniest bit of overwhelm makes me want to procrastinate...like clean-the-whole-house-to-avoid-real-work-but-still-feel-productive procrastinate.
After all, changing the world is hard work, and the problem with difference-makers like us is that we have the gift of consciousness. We can see the whole picture, which leaves us looping and wondering where to start. When you can see just how many things need doing, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of your to-do list.
Awareness can be a gift and a curse. Add a little perfectionism in the mix, and you’ve got a perfect recipe for paralysis-by-analysis.
So if you find yourself looping, getting overwhelmed, and procrastinating, take a deep breath and try this out of the box approach to getting over the overwhelm.
Rather than barreling through your to-do list at break neck speed or creating a 90-Day Plan to get shit done, I want to offer you something slightly different that’s going to give you a huge shift if you’ve been overwhelmed and stuck for a while. Rather than revising and refining our to-do lists, let’s actually break the pattern that’s keeping us stuck in overwhelm in the first place. “But how?” I’m glad you asked.
We are going to temporarily trade your "To-Do List" for a "To Be List."
Hear me out. I know it sounds counterintuitive and scary to let go of the intoxicating sense of control that comes from checking things off your to-do list, but I promise this practice yields big clarity and peace.
The absolute best thing you do for paralysis-by-analysis, perfectionism, and overwhelm is simply to create space. You have every single answer you need already within you. We need to create enough space for answers and solutions to bubble up naturally. Think back to the last time you were washing your hair in the shower and a brilliant idea came to you randomly. This works in a similar fashion.
We’re going to get you out of your to-do list left brain and into your to-be list right brain and see what problems get solved with much less effort. Here’s how.
Step One: Create a Container.
Find a safe space to do this. Since this practice involves temporarily dropping your to-do list, it’s probably not wise to try it on your busiest work day or the day you have no child care. Make preparations if you need to. Clear the calendar for one whole day and commit that day to not being ruled by your to-do list. I know it’s difficult. I also know you can do it.
If you absolutely cannot bear to part with your to-do list for a whole day, you can still get the essentials done, but try to focus more on a state of being while you're working rather than accomplishing a certain thing.
Step Two: Shift Into Being.
Now that you've created a safe space for your "to be" day, shift your focus from “what I need to do today” to “how I want to feel today.” If you are anything like me, you begin ticking off the day’s priorities before you’re all the way out of bed in the morning, and while this habit is great when you need to make something happen, it's not super helpful when you're already overwhelmed and wanting to crawl back under the covers. After all, life is about accomplishing things, but it’s also about enjoying being alive.
In the morning of your designated “to be” day, get out your journal or a scratch sheet of paper, and instead of writing the day’s tasks, write the top three things you want to BE today, like grateful, peaceful, or spicy. What are the top three things you want to feel today? What are the top three things you want to actually embody? It doesn’t matter what the three things are as long as they have meaning for you. This is all about pressing the reset button and creating space, so there’s no way to get this wrong. Let it flow!
Step Three: Practice.
Now that you’ve picked your top three things to BE, move through your day asking yourself, “How can I settle into being this thing?” If you want to feel or embody gratitude, ask yourself, “How can I become gratitude today? If I were really embodying gratitude, what would I do right now?” Try to move through your whole day like this and notice how you feel.
Step Four: Go Into Inquiry.
Evaluate. If simply being made you completely antsy, notice it and comfort the antsy-ness. Ask what message antsy is bringing you. Is it simply discomfort at trying something new, or is it a clue to something deeper? If you loved the experience of having space to simply be, how can you get more being? Come up with some ways to integrate being into the doing on a daily basis.
If you want the dream job, the thriving business, the income, the impact, the confidence, etc, it starts with the small, inner, being things.
Rewriting the resume or business plan is important, but the more space and clarity you have going in to those tasks, the easier it’s going to be for you to get those external results.
Now it's your turn!
Practice trading your "To Do List" for a "To Be List" and leave me a comment below the video to share what your top three being things are, and don't forget to sign up for Soul Scribbles, the free 30-Day Journaling Guide, to get a little more being on the daily.
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