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

I hired Lori because I was feeling stuck in my job and needed to find a career that was more rewarding, more challenging, and more suited to me.  In the arts, it's difficult to find a job you enjoy that also pays enough to live on, but Lori helped me do just that! 

As we worked together, Lori always helped give me that extra nudge when I was having trouble taking the next step toward success and acknowledged and applauded me when I accomplished something that I'd been struggling with. 

Thanks to Lori, I got out of my 8-year rut at the same job and discovered a new career I love that brings me all of the things I want in a job--creativity, variety, challenge, learning, flexibility, teamwork, and cake.  With no professional experience but a desire to learn, Lori helped me find ways to become a cake decorator--first on my own and then, eventually, at a reputable cake shop.  Now, something I used to do just for fun has become something I make my living doing, and each workday flies by!

Emily Sweeney, Chicago, IL