For accessibility and ease, you can listen to this post narrated by Mike:
At the beginning of the year—nearly 7.5 months ago or so—I started getting up at 5:30 and engaging in a 3-hour morning routine every single day.
Weekends. When I’m sick. When I’m on vacation. When I have visitors. I’ve missed a combined 5 days this year—all due to early morning flights. So, basically, I’ve done this every single day. It’s just become what I do.
And there’s not one morning I’ve had in those 230 or so days where I’ve felt anything but overwhelm. Regardless how many consecutive mornings I’d done the same thing over and over again, I wake up and feel incapable of doing this monumental task.
I think I had this assumption when I started that I’d feel less overwhelmed after a few months. That it’d just become easy. That it’d almost run itself.
But, if 6 years of writing this blog nearly every weekday has taught me anything, it’s that overwhelm might not diminish, but that doesn’t mean it has to hold me back, either.
I can take action even when I’m overwhelmed. I can do hard things.
I used to think there were people out there who are just inherently motivated and confident and carefree about everything they do. People whose inside worlds matched their Instagram accounts. And maybe they do exist. But, if so, I’ve never met them.
I’ve never met one person who is doing inspiring things and who has never felt overwhelmed with those things. Or who’s never wanted to quit 1,000 times. Or who hasn’t had to break it down into tiny steps in order to keep moving forward.
I wanted so badly to believe that they existed. Because maybe then I had an out. I could know that I just wasn’t that person. That I really wasn’t worthy or capable. That some inherent flaw in me prevented me from doing hard things.
Ironically—despite all my convictions otherwise—it felt too heavy to know that I am a genius and that I’m capable of building a life from that genius, even when I’m overwhelmed.
Because to admit that meant that I’d have to face the fact that those people out there aren’t more special than I am. They’ve just found the right containers and gone after the hard things in those containers.
If I knew I was capable, then I’d have no real reason holding me back from taking action. And it scared the shit out of me.
Let me dispel this myth right here and now—I’m overwhelmed and afraid all the time. I’m overwhelmed that words aren’t flowing to me each morning. I’m overwhelmed thinking about having to hold that plank. I’m overwhelmed whenever I open my inbox. I’m overwhelmed wondering if people are resonating with or shifting in the work.
I’ve been doing it for years. I’ve seen hundreds and hundreds of monumental transformations. And yet I still get overwhelmed and afraid.
There are dozens of things that can make me overwhelmed or afraid. No matter if I’ve been doing the same thing daily for years or not. Those fears still pop up.
The difference is I know I’m capable now, even in the face of overwhelm. And I know how to support myself.
We visionaries are going to be overwhelmed. We just need to face the facts. Because the big vision we see in our minds—so complete and visceral and real and alive—doesn’t match up to the unclimbed mountain we have before us.
We imagine how we’ll feel once we reach the peak. But we see a giant climb in front of us. And the disconnect there creates the feeling of overwhelm.
And the bigger the vision, the bigger that disconnect. And, let’s face facts, we visionaries see big visions.
So, of course, we’re overwhelmed. All the time.
But journeys aren’t completed by imagining the end result. They’re completed in individual steps.
So all we have to do is look down and take that one step. And another. And another. Even if it feels like we’re hardly moving forward.
And we can look up every once in a while to see the big vision again and remember why we’re doing this. Provided we look back down and focus on each step.
And, every once in a while, we might even look back to see how far we’ve come. Instead of only focusing on what we haven’t accomplished yet, we can see how those tiny steps have been silently compounding for us.
And then we look back down and focus on the next step.
For me, overwhelm comes when I don’t feel capable. And of course I don’t feel capable of climbing an entire mountain. Because I can’t do that in one action. It’s too much for my brain to process. So it pulls me out of the present moment and projects me to the seemingly unattainable place where I do it all at once. And I feel totally overwhelmed.
We can’t take action outside of the present moment. So the second our mind starts frantically thinking about all we have to do later on today, we lose the ability to do the thing right in front of us.
Our minds are accurately assessing that we can’t accomplish that entire big vision in this present moment. So we freak out and get overwhelmed.
Because it’s right—we can’t do it all. But we can take this one tiny step.
Just do one pushup. Just write one word. Just get out of bed. Just send one e-mail. Just get through one minute.
We’re all capable of that. Just doing the one tiny, tiny thing in front of us. We don’t have to do it all. Just this.
And then, if we choose, we can do just another pushup. Another word. Another minute.
We’re building our capacity. Because capacity—quite literally—is the space for capability. We’re reminding ourselves that we’re able to do it. Over and over again. Building our space to be capable.
Until one day, after many, many thankless days, we notice we’re at the top of the mountain. The place that felt impossible before.
And maybe we were overwhelmed the entire time. But we didn’t have to do it all at once. We didn’t have to create the whole vision.
We only needed to take one step. And then another. And another. As we built our capacity to hold the vision. And make it real.
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 or incapable of creating that vision?
— Do you feel totally overwhelmed when you think of your big goals? Does it feel impossible? Do you get really anxious about even the little pieces like responding to those e-mails or looking at the finances?
— Do you assume that one day, if you just plow forward enough, you’ll never be anxious or overwhelmed again? Do you think that some people are just naturally super confident, and their ability to create visions is because they never get overwhelmed?
— What if you are a visionary, and overwhelm is always a part of the experience because it’s the space between the vision you see and the reality before you? What if you don’t have to see the entire vision right now, you just have to take the one step before you? What if you can put your head back down and see just the next step, word, minute, etc. any time you feel overwhelmed?