When you first meet me, I’m pretty quiet. I might not have a ton to say. I may not have a ton of questions to ask you or answers for you, but that’s because I do a lot of listening. Not in a judgmental sense, but out of an intention to learn. To actually hear your story. To connect with your energy and not just the words coming out of your mouth.
The more you listen, the more people tell you. I’ve had a lot of conversations. I’ve listened to a lot of stories. I’ve heard a lot about life. I’ve had a lot of wisdom, vulnerability, courage, and confession shared with me. And while I’d never disclose the words and revelations composing these exchanges, the one thing I am constantly reminded of is:
nobody has their shit together.
Is this you?
Another day, another to-do list that wasn’t performed in its entirety.
You wake up with the heart pounding conviction that today you’re going to get everything done. Hours go by – some days they’re filled with work, some days of distraction, or combatting the unexpected, but more often than not, at the end of the day, there’s a looming feeling of doom.
Your chest tightens. Your shoulders escalate toward your ears in proportion to each item that’s added to your plate of responsibilities. Fear you’re not good enough, guilt that you didn’t do enough surges through you. And it’s not just mental. I don’t know how to explain it, but there’s a physical sensation that goes along with it.
Overwhelm sucks (and if it’s getting in the way of you ability to make decisions, check this out). For simplicity purpose, overwhelm is a branch, maybe even a side effect, of anxiety – whether it be prolonged, clinical, or situational. When we’re anxious, the body literally trims the amount of energy being distributed to its systems and organs. That’s what the physical effects of anxiety – digestive issues, chest pains, shortness of breath, etc. – are very real. This happens mentally too, part of the brain “shuts off” to devote more energy to and cope with the stress. Our physiological response hasn’t evolved to differentiate and combat the types of stress our rushed world dawns on us – our never-ending inboxes, the pressure to constantly communicate, the expectation to do something unique and different with our life, the insane amount of creative vivacity we demand ourselves to put out each day… Our stress system is still wired to handle bear attacks, not breakdowns (more on that here).
Knowing we physiologically have less energy to give when we’re overwhelmed, problem-solving, brainstorming, and organization seem nearly impossible. Enter the inevitable cycle of picking one ball up only to drop to two more. One step forward, two steps back. Sometimes, we can come to terms with this in our career, but when it hits our personal lives, we feel like we’re failing.
A more profitable month only to be followed by a gut-wrenching amount of money that needs to go into a car repair and leaves us feeling condemned by finances yet again.
A new system our associate integrates into our business that initially made things easier that’s not added more work.
A purchase that was supposed fulfill and enhance but failed and we have to return it.
A relationship quarrel resolved only to reveal further oppositions.
The thing to remember is, it doesn’t happen like this because of who you are, what you did or didn’t do, what you could have done better, or what external events added complications to your life. It works like this because you’re a human (and thank goodness for that because I don’t think many robots would read my website!).
You do not have it together. I do not have it together. They do not have it together. (Here are 800+ plus other business owners who don’t have it together).
The lifestyle goddess you’re one of the 200K following on Instagram, the toughest competition who always seems one step ahead of you or better than you, the “perfect” business owner that – online – looks like they have everything just seamlessly fall into place to unveil their success, the people who we boast about to others exclaiming, “she really has her act together”. They are all people. None of them have it together. They’ve all got plenty of shit going on, I promise.
The only way to truly have your shit together is to accept that you’re never going to have it together and to find out how to live within that.
The people we admire for their “togetherness” just have one piece or a few pieces of the puzzle figured out. What they don’t do, is let the subsequent balls dropping interfere with their success and progress.
Managing overwhelm comes with how well you know your comfort zone. Not for the purpose of staying within it, but having enough awareness to know when it is beneficial for you to push past your pre-existing limits and when you need to stay in it. Sometimes the answer is to fully receive the comfort. To wear the cozy socks, to eat the ice cream, to do more of what’s working, more of what makes us feel safe so that we can restore and sustain. But in order for progress, in order for strength to swell and growth to take place, we have to extend.
We have to understand that the perception of being overwhelmed comes from the very truth we’re already extending outside our comfort zone, so that’s already a step ahead of the game. Accept the challenge to reorganize priorities, to redistribute or even reconstruct to-do lists, to compartmentalize all the things, to get comfortable within all of the discomforts.
The best way to start getting out of your comfort zone is to start with something unrelated to the overwhelm your feeling. Try a new food, a new workout, a pose you typically opt out of on your mat (this yoga mat is motivations AND understands your love for pizza), buy a dress with a little more spunk and flare than you usual wear, run for a few more minutes than you think you can. Notice how you already have more in you than you thought, that the rewards you feel – whether it be a confidence boost, upped physical endurance, or a newfound sense of pride – almost always outweigh the now naive risks you were considering previously. Then, work your way up to more uncomfortable scenarios. Have a conversation you’ve been avoiding. Opt out of something you feel obligated to instead of committing. Reach out to the person you think you’re not good enough to collaborate with. The more you step out of your comfort zone overall, the easier you’ll find it to reach past when you need to insist development from yourself the most.
I give you permission to try. Permission to tackle problems when only a half logical solution appears. Permission to fall over while diving into a handstand and making the loudest thump ever in yoga class. Permission to not be everything to everyone. Permission to un-accommodate. Permission to put all your energy into a new launch and only make one sale. Permission to take the risk and pair the floral dress with the edgy boots, and add your choker from the 90s. Permission to trust your gut and be wrong. Permission to say mistaken things. Permission to hand it in late. Permission to say no. Permission to throw something into the world that’s imperfect, that doesn’t have all the wrinkles ironed out – with typos. Permission to fail and then heal and then fail again.
Now give that permission to yourself.
Get comfortable in the chaos.
Don’t you think we would have much more life to live if we stopped striving for stable, perfect, balance, and syncness. Do we even know what we’re asking for out of those things? What does “balance” have to serve us with?
Having it together is boring. It doesn’t give you much else to learn nor extension to grow.
I’d rather take my mess and have a story to show.
Screw having our shit together.
If this post resonated with you, please consider sharing it to help reassure others that no one truly has life under control! <3
For more action steps on this:
- Arm yourself with tools and action steps to combat overwhelm and make effective decisions with this workbook
- Join our community of entrepreneurs who don’t have their shit together
- Find out why overwhelm is destroying your decision making process
- Read up on these self-development books that are actually worth your time