What Causes Overwhelm

Apr 2, 2024 | Business, Mindset

We all feel overwhelmed from time to time. It’s not a good feeling and it can be quite paralyzing. Being able to recognize overwhelm for what it is and realizing what caused it are the first steps you will take to overcome it. This is important because overwhelm causes stress and it keeps you from moving forward. Let’s take a look at some of the most common causes of feeling overwhelmed.

You’re Not Clear On Your Goals

It’s hard to take action and move in the right direction when you’re not clear on your goals. Whenever you’re feeling particularly overwhelmed, stop and ask yourself what your desired outcome is. Be as clear and precise as possible. Set a SMART goal. This is a goal that’s specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time bound. A good example of a smart goal is to have all your documents put together for tax season by February 15 and ready to hand off to your accountant. This is a much better goal than feeling overwhelmed because you need to do your taxes.

You Don’t Have A Clear Path To Your Goals

Another reason to feel overwhelmed is not having a clear path to your goal. Let’s say your goal is to lose forty pounds by the end of the year. That’s a clear and specific goal with a deadline. But how do you get there? What’s your first step? What are the changes you need to make in the coming weeks and months to reach that goal?

If you have a clear end-goal in mind, but still feel overwhelmed, it may be because you don’t know where to start and how to move forward. Sit down and come up with some ideas. The good news is that it doesn’t need to be perfect and you don’t even have to have everything mapped out. What you need is somewhere to start and some action you can take. Action will eliminate overwhelm every time. What’s something you can do today, this week, or this month to get closer to your goal?

You’re Trying To Do Too Much Too Fast 

The last common cause of overwhelm I want to discuss with you is trying to do too much too fast. We’ve all been guilty of this. We are excited about a new project and bite off more than we can chew. If you’ve ever gotten into renovating an old house, you know what I mean. You have such big plans for everything and start tearing out the old kitchen, the bathroom fixtures and pick out paint for each of the bedrooms. Before you know it, your home becomes uninhabitable because you are trying to do too much all at once.

The same holds true in other areas of your life. Be patient with yourself. Realize that it takes time to learn and master new skills. Don’t try to do it all at once. Instead, focus on one area, one task, one skill at a time and the overwhelm will disappear.

Defining The Cause Of Your Overwhelm

Before you can work on digging your way out of feeling stressed and overwhelmed, you need to figure out what’s causing it in the first place. This will then help you form a plan of action to take. Action is key to beating overwhelm. It helps you move forward and make progress. Just as important though is that defining the causes of your overwhelm makes you face what’s going on. Often it is the unknown that scares us the most.

Take a deep breath and prepare to dig deep. I promise you will start to feel better as soon as you discover the cause of your overwhelm. Often it starts with a feeling or with random thoughts that keep us up at night. Or maybe it’s a stack of books you bought to learn about something new. Or some new business resources you don’t know how to utilize. Think about what’s stressing you out and write down exactly what the root cause of it is. Go do it right now. I’ll wait.

Doesn’t that feel better already? Knowing what’s getting you overwhelmed is half the battle. Once you know what’s causing it, you can start to chip away at it and work towards completing the project, gaining the skill, or getting everything organized that you’ve been putting off for years. It’s not going to fix itself overnight, but it’s a real problem instead of a nagging bad feeling. Knowing exactly what’s going on and what you need to do gives you the power to actually do something about it. It’s empowering. Use that feeling to propel you toward your end goal.

Sometimes there’s more than one thing that overwhelms us and that’s okay. If you can define both, great. If not, don’t fret it. Work on the overwhelm one area and one task at a time. Let’s say running your house, raising your kids, and keeping down your job is overwhelming. In other words, your entire life feels like a little too much. I get it. We’ve all been there. There are seasons where lots of things are changing and up in the air. You’ve done a great job identifying three different areas of overwhelm. Now dig a little deeper. What’s the root cause? Having a cluttered house with no plan on what to clean and tidy when could be one. As could having to adjust to the fact that your sweet little baby is now a little menace that gets around faster than the speed of light and has a knack for getting into trouble. Add to that a new job with different responsibility and it’s no wonder you’re in full overwhelm. Even if you can pinpoint just one of those, you’re one step closer to feeling calm and in control. You can make a plan of daily chores, and work on decluttering to make it easier to keep house. That in turn will leave you with more mental and physical energy to tackle everything else.

It works the same in your job or business. There could be multiple issues that are causing overwhelm. Maybe you’re growing too fast and don’t know how to best handle taxes and such. Realizing that’s an issue can help you realize that you need to meet with an accountant and work on getting some sort of book keeping system in place. Making lots of sales is great until you start to feel stressed about the emails pouring in from customers, JV partners, and prospects. This may help you realize that you need to create a system for handling customer support. You get the idea.

Define your overwhelm and get down to the root cause. When you have it, you can start to put things and processes in place that will stop the overwhelm.

Hi there, I'm Jennifer.


My guess is you are thinking about starting a business but have no idea how to get going, or you have a business but are stuck or frustrated in an area of your business or maybe you stumbled across my podcast?

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