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I'm a professional coach and former practicing lawyer, here to help you explore how to become more effective, intentional, and fulfilled in your personal and professional life. Grab a cup of coffee or tea and join me!
When you have lots of goals, inspired ideas, and competing priorities, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and frustrated. You may want to do ALL THE THINGS and do them all RIGHT NOW, but then you feel like you’re not accomplishing much of anything and just can’t seem to get ahead of it all. After all, we only have so many hours in the day!
Most of the advice out there is to manage your time better or simply to be more productive. That’s all well and good except… sometimes the problem is being disconnected from yourself and your vision. So, you’re running around taking all this action but is it actually aligned to what you want? Are you getting the outcomes you desire? Managing your time better doesn’t really address that.
It’s easy to get caught up in the frantic hustle and day-to-day grind. To dive in to work without clarifying your vision or desired outcomes. With your head buried in email, frantically trying to get task after task crossed off the to-do list, how often do you actually check in and consider what you’re working for anyway? What’s the outcome you desire? Why does it matter to you? Will what you’re doing get you where you want to be? Hustling without a clear and compelling vision in mind is a recipe for feeling scattered and being busy, but not necessarily getting the outcomes you desire.
If that’s you, stop what you’re doing and reconnect with your big vision! Yes, it takes a little bit of time. But doing this now can help you feel more focused and on top of your game. And don’t you want to be sure the action you’re taking is actually aligned with the outcomes you want? I know I do! Doing this can also help remind you of your passion for what you’re doing.
Let’s take look at a few reasons why so many of us end up overwhelmed and overworked to begin with.
In my experience, super passionate. people are prone to repeated cycles of inspiration and burnout. It starts with inspiration, which leads to excitement, and then to overwork (’cause you’re so passionate and high-achieving), overwhelm, frustration, fatigue, and eventually burn out. That is until we find renewed inspiration and the cycle starts over again!
Burn out is different for everyone. For some, it’s feeling “worn down,” irritable, having health problems, not wanting to work, feeling like work is a drag, not enjoying or feeling that spark you once had for your work, etc. A common theme I often hear burned out high-achievers say is they’re missing that excitement and joy for what they do and they long to get it back or find something else that excites them again. So, you can see why this starts the cycle over again, and again, and again. Have you experienced this?
There are many things that can prevent you from falling into this cycle. For now, let’s look at an important step to get out of it.
If you’re overworked or overwhelmed, I bet you’re thinking, “If I can just get more hours in the day, everything will be better.” I hear this all the time. But more hours in the day is not the answer. Even if it were possible (spoiler: it’s not), let’s be honest… most of us would probably fill those extra hours with more busywork, emails, etc.!
Maybe you think you just need to manage your time better or set better boundaries, which are great things to consider. I work on those with my clients and they can be very helpful. But they won’t solve anything if you don’t do this very important step first.
Instead of wishing for more hours or hoping one day you’ll get a handle on time management and boundaries, a great first step is to pause and reconnect with your big vision! (Okay… first, you may want to take a generous break, then dive into your big vision.)
When you get clarity about where you’re headed and why you’re headed there, you can focus more of your time on what matters most and ditch some of the unnecessary busy work. You can start saying “no” to things that don’t fit with your vision and priorities. You can create a vision-aligned game plan and a much more sustainable approach to tackling your goals.
Ultimately, this allows you to gain a renewed sense of clarity, passion, excitement, and focus. And if you do this regularly, you may even avoid slipping into periods of frustration, overwhelm, and burnout altogether! Below are two simple, yet effective exercises to connect with and clarify your big vision.
But first, a few quick tips on making the most of your vision planning time.
Block out a chunk of time for this–I would suggest half a day or a full day at the very least. Actually book it in, like an appointment with yourself on your calendar! Make it as distraction free as possible. Put your phone on airplane mode, close all your open tabs, and tell everyone you’re not available during that time… whatever you have to do.
Remember your only mission during this time is to connect with your big vision. That’s it! Nothing else. So, block out all other tasks and to-dos and leave those are for another time. Try to enjoy this time and give yourself plenty of space for it. Make it fun!! Turn on some music, light a candle, make yourself comfy.
Grab a good old-fashioned pen and paper journal. I dedicate a separate journal specifically to my big vision planning and nothing else, so I can return to it regularly and don’t have trouble finding what I wrote on some sticky note somewhere. Now, here are the exercises!
Take some time to answer these questions:
Dig deep and answer in writing in as much detail as possible! Every time you come up with an answer, keep asking “why?” a few more times. Connect your answers to feelings and emotions, not just facts, to make them more compelling. Try to avoid turning this into a boring to-do list writing session. Think big picture dreams!
Assume everything has worked out the way you want and you have everything you can possibly imagine! Don’t sell yourself short or limit your dreams. Suspend those limiting beliefs for now.
Journal about that day in as much detail as possible. What time do you wake up? What do you eat for breakfast? If you go to work, where do you go? What do you do? Go through your entire day imagining everything you hope it to be and most importantly, how you hope to feel.
Give yourself permission to write many, many pages. Just be sure to write as though you are experiencing that day today, as opposed the future tense. Have some fun with this! Be sure to save what you’ve written down so you can return to it regularly to reconnect with your vision, expand upon it, or maybe evolve it.
The key is to connect not just with what you want but with the feelings you want to have. Feelings are what compel us, keep us motivated, and pull us through the trying times. And even if you’ve done this before, it’s helpful to revisit this exercise from time-to-time. Our vision can change and evolve as we grow!
I invite you to take some time in the next month to truly connect with your big vision. Give yourself permission to dream! Only you can know what you want in this life. Of course, it’s up to you to take action toward it. But you’ll be way better off taking that action once you’ve tapped into what your unique soul truly desires.