You Don't Have to Give in to the Season of Overwhelm

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I looked at my calendar the other day and had a mild panic attack!I think I’m just about ready to enjoy Halloween, so clearly I’m feeling behind in life. And I know I’m not alone in this. If you’re in the midst of a job or career transition, it can feel even worse. When overwhelm kicks in, we can no longer see the forest for the trees (as my mother would say). All we can see is the giant mass of stuff to deal with. It gets hard to know which way to turn or what to do to get out. It’s tempting to just curl up in the fetal position, close your eyes, and hope it all sorts itself out.

But we also know in our hearts that is not the best or fastest way out. So what can you do to deal with overwhelm and get into action while bolstering your confidence?

Here are 5 steps you can take.

1 – Breathe.

That’s right. If you’re feeling overwhelmed the first thing to do is stop, close your eyes, and take a few (3 – 10) slow deep breaths. Give yourself a moment to clear your head and take in oxygen. This also moves your focus to the present moment.


2 – Make a list of everything that needs to be done or addressed.

Get the thoughts out of your head and onto paper where you can see them. Write it all down until there’s nothing left to write. Often the act of writing it all down brings a bit of relief. Plus, now you can organize and deal with the items on your list.


3 – Prioritize the list.

Now you can put the list into order. What do you have to deal with right now? What things can you put off? What items have deadlines? Organize your list into the order in which things need to be dealt with or completed.


4 – Break the high priority items into the smallest steps you can take.

Before you are tempted to take action, identify the smallest doable actions you can take. Taking action, any action, will help you feel more in control. But when you are overwhelmed, that can seem daunting. So break things into tiny action steps. Once you’ve done this, you are ready for step 5.


5 – Take the next tiny action.

Pick one of your top-priority, time-critical items. Review the list of small or tiny steps, pick one, and take your next tiny action. Then check it off the list. You can work your way through your list of next tiny actions, one at a time, as your time and energy allow.


Whew! I am already feeling better and seeing things more clearly. How about you? What tips do you have to manage the overwhelm that comes with this time of year, or with being in job or career transition? I’d love to read your comments below.


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Client Stories

When I first met Lori, I was in a rut. Having spent 25 years in the same industry, I was bored, max’d out and didn't know what to do next.  I was pigeon-holed into an industry that I was not so fond of, and saw no way to get out.  I felt trapped. Lori understood my predicament, as she had seen it all before -- she was sympathetic, but resolute in knowing that she could help me find answers.  I took great solace in that! 

Through several sessions and dozens of exercises, I began to get a clearer picture of who I am, and where my strengths and talents truly lie.  Working with Lori, I was able to translate that understanding into updated, targeted resumes that quickly produced interviews and gave me the confidence to express myself better than ever before. 

Consulting a Career Coach should be mandatory for anyone in today's work force, and Lori is the best at her profession.

Robert J. Norris, Warrenville, IL