You know the feeling.
Yesterday two of my co-workers lamented feeling overwhelmed. One forgot completely to attend a meeting she had organized.
Driving home today I listened to an on air personality explain feeling overwhelmed this Christmas. She works through stress all day looking forward to going home. Once at home she is stressed by all the domestic duties she must fulfill as well as the additional Christmas season expectations. She finally has an hour to herself near the end of the evening and thinks only of the next day’s responsibilities. She sighed, “When do I just get to enjoy life?”
Over coffee this afternoon I asked one of the busiest men in Alberta if he ever felt overwhelmed. He seems to take everything in stride and is poised, calm, and always under control. This is no evidence of overwhelm. Not so he told me. “There are seasons when I’m not sure I’m going to be able to deliver what is expected. I forget appointments and entire events. It stresses me out. I know I need to take a break for more than a few days.”
Is overwhelmed the new normal?
In their book, Immunity to Change, Harvard professors Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey discuss how the increase in complexity associated with modern life has left many of us feeling “in over our heads.”
What do you do when life has you in a headlock and all you want to say is “Uncle!” Here’s my guess. You would feel overwhelmed by a list of “to do’s” that will help you not to feel overwhelmed.
So, no list, only my story.
Get it done. Imperfectly. Sheryl Sandberg, the billionaire COO of Facebook, posted, “Done is better than perfect.” I am a recovering perfectionist. Perfectionism has led me to make tasks or projects bigger than they need to be, which usually leads to procrastination and distress. As things pile up, the sense of overwhelm grows, which can then lead to more procrastination and more overwhelm. As with this post, I get it done. Write. Edit. Edit. Publish.
In my mind I hear someone saying, “Shoulda edited one more time.”
I assure myself I’m going to be OK. When feeling overwhelmed I calm by reminding myself that I’ve been here before and I’ve gotten through every time. I will get through this season as well. The title of my recent book, “You’re Going To Be OK” is true for you. That’s more than a mantra. It’s breath.
Trust the leader. Here’s where being a follower of Jesus pays off. I challenge myself by asking, “Is what I’m doing inspired by God?” If not, then find a way to stop doing it. Quickly. If so, then rest assured that where God guides he provides – in his timing. The subject of this post was inspired by experiences around me as I listened for God’s direction. I hope the post is helpful.
You’re going to be OK. Deadlines will be met (or not); Christmas gifts will be purchased (and wrapped); you will make time to rest (or at least lock yourself in the bathroom for 25 minutes).
Robert (Bob) W. Jones is a recovering perfectionist, who collects Coca-Cola memorabilia and drinks Iced Tea. His office walls are adorned with his sons’ framed football jerseys, and his library shelves, with soul food. He writes to inspire people to be real, grow an authentic faith in Jesus, enjoy healthy relationships and discover their life purpose.
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