Find your calm. Clarity will follow.
Have you ever felt it was time for a change, but been unable to move forward because there was just too much going on?
I sure have.
When it came to pursuing work I really love (which required a career shift), I spent countless hours imagining “what if” scenarios in an attempt to get clear on what to do next. Exploring so many possibilities. Over-thinking possible outcomes. Churning around in circles and developing a bad case of analysis paralysis.
Instead of moving forward purposefully as I intended, I ended up feeling frustrated, confused and discouraged. Unsure of what to do next.
Finally, the light bulb went off! I realized that….
You can’t get clarity and make your best decisions when you’re stressed out, under pressure and worried about making the “right” choice.
It sounds obvious now, but I’m not the only one to get caught up in this cycle. I worked with a client recently I’ll call Becky. She felt trapped in a toxic work environment, reporting to a boss who was demanding and unappreciative. Becky was working long hours, taking on extra assignments and sacrificing her personal life. She was heading towards burnout.
She didn’t see any way to make things better at her current job and wasn’t sure what her external options might be. But her prestigious title and good salary had her thinking she “should” stick it out even though a bigger part of her wanted out of this unhealthy situation. Becky was caught in an internal tug-of-war that was creating major anxiety.
The first goal of our work together was to help Becky reduce her stress level. Once she got to a place of greater calm, she was able to gain perspective, evaluate her priorities and start taking small actions that eventually led to a new job that truly aligned with her career and lifestyle goals.
If you’re juggling so much that you’re finding it hard to get clear and get going, here are 3 steps to help you find the calm so you can start moving forward.
Step 1: Take a breather. Literally. Even a few short minutes of deep breathing can lower your blood pressure, release tension and balance your energy. (This can be especially helpful before engaging with a person or situation that triggers stress for you). When you are calmer, you can see things more clearly and make better choices than you do when stress is distorting your perspective.
Step 2: Lighten your load. If you have a massive to-do list that’s weighing you down, it’s time to shorten it. Start by dropping items that are like-to-haves, but not absolute must-haves. Then decide what you can delegate. Figure out who else could do this, even if it means hiring someone.
Step 3: Focus on priorities. And I mean your priorities – not everyone else’s! A good place to start is by identifying the top three things you want to accomplish today. Then do them first, before you start responding to other people’s agendas. Email is a big culprit that can quickly draw your attention away from what’s important to you. Try limiting how often you check it during the day.
I was amazed to see the transformation in Becky as she let go of non-essential work, found her inner calm and started focusing on her priorities. Answers about what to do next quickly started to fall in line once the stress cloud lifted. Not surprising – they were inside her all along.