When Life Is Overwhelming
We live in a world where anxiety is almost normal... In fact, it seems to be the staple of this generation. More people than ever are plagued by it. Some deal with actual disorders, and others are just very stressed.
How many times do you ask someone how they are and they say "stressed," "tired," or "busy?"
There's 27 hours of work to do in a day that isn't getting any longer.
Getting overwhelmed is bound to happen, and it's okay. But know that if you are perpetually and uncontrollably overwhelmed, you should be evaluating the situation.
You've probably heard older people tell you over and over again, "you can't control the situation, you can only control how you react to it."
Annoying, I know... But it's true...
Be honest, do you have any power over the things that are overwhelming you? And I don't mean work load. Yes, you can always put in more time, but in the midst of that, are you worrying about hours you don't have?
The truth is, all you can do is truly all you can do and at some point that has to be good enough.
If you come to the end of the day knowing you've done all you can do, but you still feel overwhelmed, memorize these questions. Like usual, we're here to give you tools, add these to your belt.
Three Diagnostic Questions for Your Anxiety
1. What does it look like to be faithful today?
I'd imagine one of the things that stresses you out most is the amount of obligations you have. You've told this person you'll meet them here, you have this project due, and your mom needs you to call her. Add that to your life and work and you suddenly find yourself very slammed.
This is important. Especially as leaders, we need to be people of our word.
Being faithful is about doing what you said you would and doing it well. If you've told someone you'd meet them, meet them. If you agreed to a deadline, get it done. If you told your mom you'd call her, call her.
I see so many people, particularly young people, who make promises and don't keep them. They agree to something until it becomes inconvenient or tricky and they flake. This is the OPPOSITE of leadership.
If you say you're going to do something, do it. In light of this, be much slower to commit to things. Only you know what you have on your plate and how much you can handle. Much better to say no than to commit and fall through.
Again, this comes back to "all I can do is all I can do." The way you act faithfully today is by acknowledging your humanness.
Ask yourself, "is this possible for me to do?" If not, there's no sense worrying about it. If it is, then tackle it and on to the next thing.
The more you practice being faithful to the things in front of you, the more you'll understand how much you can handle and what you're able to accept in the future.
2. What Does It Look Like to Do Great Work Today?
Simply doing your work does not make you a great leader, it makes you a semi-responsible human being.
That being said, committing to consistently doing your work well does make you a great leader.
This again asks us to examine how much we take on. Are you doing so many things that you're not really doing everything well, but just doing everything okay? Reevaluate.
This is another thing that takes practice and time. You'll begin to understand what is too much and what kind of work you're capable of doing.
But above all things, be committed to doing great work. Show up to work on time, or early, every day. Finish your tasks efficiently, don't waste time.
Ultimately, take ownership for what you're doing. Don't be surprised to get fired for being bad at your job. Instead, work hard every day and you'll most likely see advancement and satisfaction.
In Benji's interview, Taka said it perfectly: "Do now what you'll be glad you did later." Leaders put in the work even when they don't feel like it because they know what's needed of them.
Do your best, and you'll be satisfied knowing there was nothing else you could do. I promise you'll sleep better.
3. What does being fully present look like today?
These things all go hand in hand and this piece ties the bow. I believe being faithful and doing great work ultimately boils down to our ability to be present.
If you constantly flake on appointments because something better comes up or you forget, that's a matter of presence. If you do poor work because your mind is in a different place, that's a matter of presence.
You can't do great work or be faithful unless you're present. But when you give all of yourself to something, you're bound to do great things.
Being present means whoever is in front of you gets all of your attention, whatever is in front of you gets all of your time, and you void distractions. It means leaving later to later, and taking care of what is going on now.
Very often, we hinder ourselves because our minds are half a mile down the road and we never truly do the work where we're at.
Get good at living in the now and your life and leadership will transform.
Remember that anxiety will come, but it doesn't have to stay. When it rises, ask yourself what's behind it. Is it a problem of faith, effort, or presence? Often can be rooted here and it's important to tackle those issues.
These are just tools. Overall, just breathe. You're probably doing better than you think you are. I know a lot of leaders and every single one puts higher expectations on themselves than anyone else does.
I'm not a psychologist, but I understand being an overachiever and busy bee. You're not alone.
Strive for excellence, but cut yourself some slack along the way, you're only human.