For accessibility and ease, you can listen to this post narrated by Mike:
Like most visionaries, I’m a brilliant dreamer. I can imagine the most amazing possibilities.
It’s why I’m such a good initiator. I’ve started dozens of projects and endeavors with unfailing enthusiasm. Positive that this time is real. This time is different. And I’ve got what it takes to go the distance.
And then, sooner or later, I usually end up completely overwhelmed. Looking at the long road ahead of me to get where I want to go—full of obstacles and critical voices. I size up my actual ability to make it happen, and realize it’s not likely.
So I give up. Until the next big vision.
This exact pattern has happened so many times that I started to internalize it as a shameful character flaw. That I’ll always be a starter but never a finisher. That I am too sensitive and too overwhelmed to actually accomplish anything. That I’m full of good ideas that will never be shared with the world.
I can see it across nearly every aspect of my life. In the mornings, I look out over my entire morning routine and swear I can’t do this. After the second or third exercise, when I feel no more energized, I want to give up.
Or with work when I have to film dozens of videos, I just freeze up. How am I going to have the time to get it all done? Can I really create this entire new program?
And don’t even get me started about finances and saving up for something big. Because it always feels overwhelming and impossible.
The hard truth is I’m right. I’m not capable. No wonder I feel overwhelmed. When I get up and exercise in the morning, I’m not capable of finishing my entire exercise. From the groggy place I am early on in the morning, I’m not capable.
And yet somehow I do it.
Because I’m not capable—yet. There’s no way I can do it from that groggy state. And maybe two or three exercises in, I still don’t feel capable.
But I’ve been doing it long enough to know that all I have to do is make it through the entire first round. And then it feels possible to do the second round, so I only have to promise myself to do that. And, by then, I actively want to do the third.
We don’t finish the same way we started. We forget the process changes us. It strengthens us. Like compound interest. Where we end up is rarely a straight line from where we started. Because we pick up resources along the way.
I don’t read a whole book in one sitting. I find five minutes here or 20 minutes there. And, by the end of the week, I somehow finished a whole book when I swore I didn’t have time.
And I’ve never once looked at a course and felt anything but overwhelm. So, most of my early processes are activities to manage that overwhelm, like going for a long walk or talking to a friend, and then doing one thing—like writing an outline.
That’s it. And the story my mind tells is that it’s not enough. That I have so much to do. So it’d rather freak out over the whole project, wasting mental and emotional energy without getting much done, than take a step that small.
So I just remind myself that I’m right. I’ve seen the vision, and I’m not capable…yet. So what’s one tiny step I am capable of? It can be laughably easy.
Sometimes, when I don’t want to write a whole blog post, I just commit to one paragraph. Just writing out one paragraph—no matter how good or bad it comes out. And I’ve never once stopped before I finished a post.
I remember when we first started the Friday Faire in the Sacred Branding® Facebook group. We had no idea what we were doing. We hadn’t fully figured out the tech yet. But I just committed to doing one show, even if it totally sucked.
And I had so much fun, I committed to another show. And another. And now 10 months later, I run a weekly show. And it’s fun and easy.
Something I definitely wasn’t capable of 10 months ago. I look back and I cringe. I was right to feel overwhelmed. I couldn’t possibly do what I do now back then. But I could show up and put out something. So that’s what I did.
I can’t think of one thing in my life that actually matters that didn’t give me crippling overwhelm when I first engaged with it.
I feel overwhelmed every day. Every goddamn day. I’m not one of those amazing people who can show up and just rock life.
I’m constantly overwhelmed. At 5:30am, when I wake up, I’m positive I won’t make it through my morning routine and blog, all the way to 11am when I start work. Five-and-a-half hours before I even start work. It’s overwhelming just to think about.
No matter if I’ve done it every day for this entire year, I still doubt its possibility. And I’m right to. I’m never capable from where I start. But I build momentum with each activity. Until I am.
We visionaries need to realize one thing—the visions we see are absolutely within reach. If we see them, we can rest assured that they’re something we can really create in the world. But that doesn’t mean we’re capable yet.
It doesn’t mean that from where we’re standing today that we can create all of this in one shot.
Of course we’re overwhelmed. We should be. Our minds are accurately assessing that we aren’t capable.
But we don’t have to be capable of creating the whole vision—only one tiny part within reach.
Are you capable of writing a whole book right now? Probably not. But can you write a sentence or paragraph today?
Are you capable of speaking on stages around the world right now? Probably not. But can you start a Meetup group where you give free talks?
As visionaries, our greatest challenge is we see the vision in its entirety, we go for it all the way, we get overwhelmed, and we quit. I know because I’ve done it 100 times before.
We need to fess up. We’re not capable…yet. No one who’s ever accomplished anything great was capable from the get-go. Because that invalidates the power of the journey.
A vision isn’t about the destination; it’s about the journey. It’s about who it makes you become as you move toward it.
You don’t ever have to create a whole vision. You only have to start—with whatever’s in reach. And then keep going until you finish.
It doesn’t matter how far it seems or how long it takes. One day, you’ll look back, from your new perspective as a changed person, and wonder why you were ever overwhelmed.
Because who you are then isn’t who you were when you started. That’s what a vision does.
It makes you capable of creating it and sharing it with the world.
Questions for Reflection:
*Answer in a journal, in the comments right here, or take it over to the Sacred Branding® Facebook group where we can support one another:
Do you feel overwhelmed by your vision and incapable of creating it? (you probably are — and that’s not a bad thing)
— Do you ever start something new with tons of enthusiasm, only to soon feel really overwhelmed and give up? Have you ever shamed yourself for not “sticking with” or finishing things?
— Do you feel like some of your visions are so big and daunting, and you’re incapable of creating them in the world? Do you wish you could just be the type of person who isn’t overwhelmed and had confidence in yourself from the get-go?
— What if you’re right—you’re not capable yet. No one is. But starting with the only tiny thing within reach allows you to begin to build the resources and tools to one day become capable? What if you don’t have to create the vision all-at-once but rather in tiny, easy bits? What if you don’t have to be able to complete a vision, just simply to start and keep going with whatever feels within reach?