How to reduce overwhelm with the C.A.L.M. Method.

Do you have more ideas than time? Do you feel overwhelmed, almost in a frozen state regarding your goals and to do lists? Do you feel almost frustrated by your expanse of ideas without enough time and energy to do every thing? I relate.

My computer, phone, and notebooks have countless ideas, projects, and ….countless. There are a lot of gems in there, but it would take two teams working full time to get them all done. And even so, over YEARS, real things…lots and lots of things, are get done. It’s so satisfying to look back at one of the lists I find randomly while organizing, and notice how many of the things I’ve done. And there are things I’m glad I didn’t do as well.

Recently, a client sent me multiple pages of her goals, ideas, projects, etc. They all sound good and they all make sense. So, what’s the problem? She has a full time job and a full life, so they can’t all happen at once. And that’s not even the problem. The real problem is that voice that berates us and says, “You’re not doing enough! You’re not working fast enough!” And believe it or not, this voice has good intentions. It honors our ideas, our creativity, our vision/goals and wants to make sure we express them. It’s our job to manage those voices and to build trust in ourselves that we are taking “enough” action to express ourselves in the world.

The voice in us that is screaming, “You’re not doing enough” is actually just trying to protect us. What you can do is simply assure it that you are still worthy of love and will be okay even if you don’t get everything on your to do list done. Your worth and lovability do not come from how much you get done in a day or in your life.

How do you find a balance between feeding the “not enough” monster and actually contributing to society?

Many people believe in quitting their job so they can do all of these things. That might work, but it won’t reduce overwhelm and my experience is, the more time we have, the less efficient we are. So, what to do?

So, not that you know the world won’t end if you don’t get everything done, here is a system for dealing with too many ideas and not enough time. It’s called C.A.L.M.M.

Clarify the over all purpose and mission of what you are doing.  This doesn’t just mean to make money. What’s the larger reason you are doing this particular thing? Let that be the space for your garden and the intention that you continuously return to when you get overwhelmed. Use this purpose/mission to catalyze momentum and to create a strong center. Why are you doing what you’re doing?

Activate your highest priorities. Which seeds are ready to pop? What’s right there in front of you, even if it’s small….or if it’s a small step toward something bigger. What is the most important thing for LONG TERM growth and sustainability. (If you can’t focus on long term, then change your circumstances so you can.) Mother Teresa had a simple quote that I love, “Do what’s in front of you.”

Learn more about your ideas. Talk through them with a friend or coach or do some brainstorming to discover which has the most energy for you, which is most ready to sprout, and which one most embodies your purpose and mission. Research your market or study what others are doing similar to what you want to do, etc. The thing about pacing things is that you get to learn as you go. This learning along the way will give you confidence to do bigger and bigger things.

Measure your tasks out over the long term. It’s easy to look at a list and think you’re going to get it all done in a month, but give yourself DOUBLE the time you think it will take. If you’re like most entrepreneurs and bootstrapping your business, you’ll be learning about SEO, web-sites, blogging, social media, selling, marketing, etc and it will all take time and have a learning curve. Expecting yourself to do it all overnight will only add to your frustration.  If you can hire it all out, give yourself double the time too….because you’ll still have a lot to clarify, learn, and communication takes time as well.  Look at the bigger picture and spread your ideas out. Use a wall with a bunch or Post-It’s or something that you can move around, so you can adapt as you learn more about what you are doing and direction you are moving in.

Motivate yourself by exceeding your expectations…which very likely means setting lower expectations, especially if you’re a perfectionist. Setting small goals and exceeding them is a more effective formula than having ridiculous expectations and burning yourself out or feeling like you are always behind. If you have a long term goal to paint for 30 hours/week, and you’re doing zero hours now, start with 1 or 2. Let it feel ridiculously easy, then do it. You’ll likely exceed that goal. And don’t get carried away the next week and try to do 5….keep setting small goals. Seriously. It works in the long run.

If you want support to create your overwhelm reduction plan, contact me for a complimentary half hour discovery session.



Jen Aly (8 Posts)

Jen Aly, M.S. learned business skills from million-dollar training company, Thrive Academy in California, and worked as a coach for their clients. She has been a Martha Beck Certified coach since 2003 and has coached clients in the areas of business, marketing, organization, productivity, and communication.

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