Ep 83 – Overwhelm is a Bad Habit Coaches Need to Break Now

I’m tired of overwhelm. Aren’t you?

Nothing sucks the joy out of your coaching business like that over-burdened feeling:

  • An endless to do list
  • The overflowing inbox
  • Too many learning curves to climb

I know overwhelm. I remember what it feels like to launch. It’s a project with so many moving parts and you can easily get ahead of yourself.

The truth is, most often overwhelm is a bad habit wanting to be broken. Whatever your reasons, some part of you is choosing to feel overwhelmed. It’s a choice. But it’s not a conscious choice.

Like in the story of the boy who cried “wolf”, your brain and body has been trained to perceive challenges as emergencies.

You’re actually OK, but you don’t believe that you are OK.

Now is your opportunity to teach yourself how to be conscious and not choose overwhelm.

There are 4 main reasons overwhelm occurs:

  1. Non-stop stimulation
  2. Chronic disorganization
  3. Scarcity consciousness
  4. Lack of inner resources

And, as this episode is coming out during the 2020 pandemic and the uprising after George Floyd’s murder, there’s so much pain and sorrow, fear and hope about what has and what could happen. That takes energy.

It actually means you can’t do as much as before.

Sure, you can push through but there are consequences to that and it won’t help the sense of overwhelm.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I do encourage you to keep moving forward on your business as you can. Be gentle with yourself.

These days I feel done with my day by 2:00pm. It means I’m getting less done than I used to. And with the rest of my day I need to do more to re-source.

Coach, Turn Off the Firehouse of Information

There’s so much coming into our psychic space all the time — we’re rarely without connection to global media (much of it anxiety-ridden especially right now).

So first, to rehabilitate your brain and overwhelm habit, consider a media diet a few times each week. Thoughtfully control what you watch, read and listen to.

You need mental downtime to get ready to effectively learn and grow.

Think of your brain like a basin. Information coming in is like the flow coming from a faucet. If you leave the flow on full, your brain is soon overflowing and you’re in overwhelm.

Do you find yourself signing up on lists, attending lots of free courses, purchasing too many programs?

It’s tempting, I know. But most likely it’s increasing not decreasing overwhelm.

How often are you actually implementing what’s taught in those emails, posts and programs? Most coaches cannot possibly take action on the amount of how-to information they access daily.

There’s this other habit that drives us to think it’s easier to go get more information than to implement what we’ve got in front of us already. Taking in information is passive and seems risk-free. Taking action requires taking risk.

But taking action is like the drain of the basin. It’s what makes the space for more useful information, like allowing learning to be integrated and leveraged.

Turn off your info-jones:

  • Develop the habit of mining your own wisdom, experience and knowledge first.
  • Reach only for information you need right now to inspire or take the next immediate step.
  • Integrate and implement what you learn. Commit to doing this before reaching for more information.

Taking action is also the key to beating those twin progress killers – disorganization and procrastination.

Get Your Coaching Business Organized

The key to a disorganized mind or process is so simple … focus on only one step at a time. Clear the decks. Block out your time.

Procrastination is mostly a reluctance to make decisions and take risk. There may be a place for delaying a decision in your personal life, but when you are faced with a decision in your coaching business, it’s usually best to make it quickly.

Postponing decisions creates a bottleneck which brings on overwhelm.

Here’s a confession. I make half-baked decisions in my business all the time. Mistakes, too.

It can be embarrassing, but train yourself to blow off embarrassment. You deserve to make mistakes. And in the end, the mistakes teach you something you couldn’t have learned any other way.

Is Scarcity Driving You, Coach?

Taoists say that wherever your attention goes, that’s where your life energy goes. Whatever you focus on expands.

Modern life trains us to focus on what is missing, what is not going right. Building a business redoubles that training, demanding that we fill the gaps and fix the problems in order to get results.

But if you allow your mind to become fixated on what is wrong, then overwhelm has you in its grip. Maybe you don’t believe you are enough (not good enough, not up to it). Maybe you believe you don’t have enough knowledge.

My favorite version of scarcity is “It will take so much time to do this.”

If you find yourself running this racket, the most important thing is to catch yourself in these thoughts, and consciously choose the beliefs you want to hold. No one is the master of their thoughts all the time, so be willing to repeat this process over and over. Often it helps to write it down:

  • the old tape you’re running, and
  • the powerful statement you are choosing in its place.

Then (again), move into action – one deliberate step at a time. When overwhelm starts brewing, take a five minute break from whatever you’re doing, and move away from as many sources of stimulation as you can. Do nothing else but move and breathe.

You’ll quickly come back to center, refreshed and resourced.

In the Next Episode: Are You Afraid to Ask Coaching Clients to Pay You?

Ep 72 – Are You Stuck in the New Coach Swirl & Spin? (Reprise)

Do you know how sometimes it helps to be reminded of something?

Coaches are smart people. We have lots of wisdom brimming inside of us. And, during the pandemic, I especially need reminding about many helpful things.

And after recent conversations with past clients and current clients I thought it might be helpful to reprise an older episode.

This is all about why it’s so easy to get stuck as a new coach and how to snap out of it!

Let’s roll!

It’s got to be said because it’s breaking my heart to see so many coaches bogged down and unable to move forward with clarity.

You know how they say that multi-tasking isn’t good for your brain? The best case scenario is that you do a lot but nothing well. It actually lowers your IQ!

Well, the same is true for your brain when you overload it with unnecessary ideas and future tasks for your coaching business.

I’ve talked about overwhelm before in Ep #20 – How to Stop Saying ‘Yes” to Bright Shiny Objects

In that episode the focus was mostly about wasting money, time and brain power on programs that you’re not developmentally ready for yet as a business owner. Advanced strategies and tactics that won’t work well for you until you have the business foundation in place.

In this episode I’m going to dig in deeper to what’s actually happening in your mind and your emotional body when you heap more and more information on yourself.

When new coaches reach out to work with me, they fill out a questionnaire on my website. I ask them to give me a snapshot of what they’re doing day to day to build their business.

Nearly every person tells me their head is spinning with all the research they’re doing.

  • They are looking at other coach’s websites. Oh no! That really won’t be helpful because it’s hard to discern coaching website that work from those that are duds. It takes experience to know that.
  • They also read everything they can about coaching and coaching business tips. They’re on loads of lists. And every day are force feeding themselves with information.
  • They’re surfing for answers to BIG questions that really can’t be answered in a free blog or webinar … things like how do I choose my niche or where can I find paying clients or what do I need to do to earn well as a coach? There’s so much complexity in those questions.
  • And, they’re signing up for every free webinar and download they can get. And sometimes investing in programs they aren’t ready for.

Here’s the truth. You can’t possibly consume a firehose of information and stay sane. It leaves you breathless with overwhelm and unable to move forward.

This is what I call the new coach swirl and spin. And those are the words that I hear coaches use. They say:

“My mind is swirling! My head is spinning! And I’m so confused that I’m paralyzed.”

I so know that place!

Thousands of bits of disconnected information has literally shut down your executive function, your creativity and intuition.

And that’s when fear and doubt surges up within you.

  • Doubts about whether you can succeed in coaching.
  • Doubts that anyone would pay you.
  • Doubts about everything you’ve been working on.
  • Fears that you’ve made the wrong decision, that you’ve wasted time and money.

And then your brain starts pulling up all the “evidence” to support those doubts.

Pretty soon you’re in a depression. Anxiety has you in it’s grips.

Everything slows to a dead stop. But it does not feel restful.

You start thinking about giving up. Part of you wants to give up. You think it would be so much easier.

Then your ever helpful brain begins to justify that idea.

And shame surfaces.

That’s the new coach swirl and spin.

Of course, this doesn’t just happen to coaches. It happens to most new entrepreneurs. It happens to students and people who were unceremoniously dropped into a promotion without training.

But there’s one thing for sure and that is … you have to stop it before it gets to this point.

How to Stop New Coach Depression From Setting In

There are mindsets and habits to address this.

By the way, there are nearly always mindsets and habits that will address nearly any mental or emotional challenge that comes up repeatedly.

First, let’s talk about good habits around this. Because these are preventative.

Wouldn’t it be great if you never got to that shame stage? To that place where you negotiate with yourself about quitting your dream of coaching.

Habit #1 Open to Bite Size and Specific Information

Reach out for specific information that will help you move forward on one specific bite sized goal.

Habit #2          Take Action Immediately

Once you have the specific information you need, take action on the next immediate step. And pause.

Not too long ago I decided to start marketing in Instagram. And I’m not the most social media savvy person. But I found the app nearly useless in terms of how to actually use Instagram wisely. And I’m still learning. But I’m not loading myself up with all the how-tos. And, earlier in my life, I would have.

I held myself back from overwhelming myself on this goal to learn how to wisely use Instagram to get the word out about my podcast and my services. So, I learned how to set up a basic profile and then I learned how to post and started posting weekly.

Is that perfect? No. Have I learned it all. No. Will I? Eventually.

Sometimes the best training is observing and doing. Learning incrementally on a pace that your brain can support.

Habit #3  Schedule Learning Sessions

I’m a big fan of blocking time. Try blocking time for:

  • client sessions
  • client management
  • emailing
  • writing
  • marketing tasks

Also block time for learning. Put it in your calendar. Consider limiting it to one 1/2 hour at a time.

When I decided to start podcasting, I looked for a training program where I could go at my own pace but also be able to ask questions of an expert. I found the Podcast Host Academy. And I loved their lessons because they had them broken down into tiny steps. Brilliant!

And that way, if I had 1/2 hour, I could learn something new and test it out.

Habit #4  Set Up a Learning Community

Back in Episode #4 – How to Feel Less Isolated in Your Coaching Business I talked about the importance of community when you’re building a coaching business.

If you’re in learning mode around a particular task or strategy, see if there’s a Facebook group or an online forum or a meetup group you can join for knowledge sharing.

Okay, let’s talk about the mindset piece now.

Here’s one mindset to rule them all.

Slow Down and Think It Through

We live in a culture of speed. It’s not helping us. But it is the way of the collective. You control your speed.

Slow down when you feel the first inkling of overwhelm. Breathe. Go outside. Then, when you feel that you’ve averted the swirl and spin, go into first gear and ask yourself:

What is the next immediate, small step that I can take right now?

Then take it.

Set a timer for a reasonable amount of time and do that. Then ask again.

Develop a range of speeds. When you’re ready, shift up to 2nd gear, then 3rd and eventually 4th and 5th gear.

Remember, you can always downshift. In your coaching business, you control your speed. You control your intake of information. You control your pace of work.

In the Next Episode: Do You Fit One of These Coach Archetypes?