Four simple ways to surge from stuck to powerful

Sean Spence on November 3, 2015

Flattened? Exhausted? Striving for excellence means risking exhaustion or downright despair!

Yet at any moment you have the power to shift gears and surge forward again. Being ‘overwhelmed’ can be part of the journey but it’s avoidable too.

Of course I only learnt this the hard way! I flamed out at Christmas. At first I thought that being tired was just the result of a long hard year. Or the normal stresses of Christmas. But I was in a good mood, working hard, getting stuff done. I finally figured out, after taking a few days break (like normal people do!) what had led to feeling overwhelmed. I had let myself get out of balance. The end of year tasks I had set myself turned out to be too ambitious and involved simply too much writing, too many parallel ideas unresolved and too much thinking. What I learnt, yet again, more deeply and more painfully, was that I needed balance. For me, this means balance of a particular kind – more visual rather than verbal stimulation. Being overwhelmed is a signal for growth, a sign that it’s time to move and change. You may be exhausted but it’s the same way a single muscle gets exhausted if you overtrain it. It’s a sign to get out of the single focussed task, no matter how important it is and learn from the pain!

  1. 1. How to learn from it – helicopter view; 10-30 minutes silence; sleep!; journal; ask others.
  2. 2. Ask yourself why you are pressing so hard as to exhaust yourself. Does that reason still matter as much? Is it more important than your health and your relationships? Has your fundamental reason for the work changed?
  3. 3. Using results to reframe – compare and contrast what you’ve been doing with a healthier approach.
  4. 4. lock-in the learning (to not regress). Use if-then goals, ‘do’ rules, and helpers.

There’s a nice irony to what happened to me. I realised that too many words drown me. That I see better than I hear. That I can’t memorise more than short scripts but I can memorise pictures and diagrams. In other words I’m more intelligent with pictures than words. What came out of it was a better technique for writing. But I surprised even myself by making sure I do a little bit of painting each day – usually a small watercolour that takes a few days over breakfast. It’s a way of meditating, staying in touch with myself & my imagination. I even created a website for selling them and have a new connection with my friends around the world. And it keeps me fresh for all the words I read and write!

What’s your way of surging forwards when you get overwhelmed?


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