Choice is a good thing until you have too many and it isn’t. Especially when those things have to do with what you have to do. Deciding then becomes difficult and leads to The Overwhelm. The psychological term for it is “Decision Fatigue”.
I love flexibility..…it’s one of my core values. Unfortunately, I often let it get out of hand and it gets the best of me.
I’ve learned the hard way that freedom and choice, without context and criteria, can quickly leave you in a puddle of Decision fatigue. In short: overwhelmed and unable to move anything on your agenda forward, let alone the stuff that matters most.
Peter Drucker said that looking back from a historical perspective, the most important change seen won’t be technology. Instead, it will be the unprecedented volume and level on which people had to self-manage…..and were totally unprepared to do so. Unless something changes, that doesn’t bode well for the accomplishment, work-life balance and sense of calm everyone is seeking these days.
So what’s the answer to escaping The Overwhelm that’s overwhelming us?
Before answering, keep in mind 2 key reasons we get overwhelmed in the first place (according to an Essentialist philosophy):
- Too much social pressure
- The idea that you can have it all.
Unlike yesteryear, the number of external voices and choices we have today is unprecedented as are our expectations, which have become inflated beyond all measure. The other is timing- we think we can have all we want all at the same time. Why not? Social media has lowered the bar for access, increasing the things that compete for our attention and constantly feed us illusions.
The result? Trying to cram an increasing number of infinite things into a discrete, limited and already overflowing schedule.
The impact? The Overwhelm.
Now, how to get out of it:
- First- Prepare. recognize and embrace the fact that you’re going to have to say “No” to some good opportunities. In fact, as you become more successful you’re going to have to say no to some really great opportunities. Easier said than done; it takes a cultivated attitude of the heart and mind.
- Second- Pause. Take a deep breath, squeeze or open both hands widely, or take some action that will center you attention. It seems moving your physiology is a key to interrupting your pattern in the moment. It provides a window to put a pause between stimulus and response.
- Third- Propose. Ask yourself the key question “What’s most Important Now?”….as in, right now. Write down all the other important stuff on a list for later. Then, take an immediate next step toward it, even if its as simple as shutting off your phone screen.
The result? Focus
The impact? Eliminating The Overwhelm. And making progress on your priorities. Even…if….only….small.
You certainly can’t change all the stuff competing for your attention. You can change your mindset and what you do about it using three simple steps.
So,“What’s most Important Now?” (WIN) for you? Take a deep breath, and then take the next small step…..right now.