Pursue What Matters
Episode 137: Two Traps that Keep you Stuck in Stress and Overwhelm
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Dr. Melissa Smith 0:00
It can be so disheartening to work hard, but feel like you’re never getting ahead. Do you understand what trips you up? Well join me today as I share two common traps that might be keeping you stuck.
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:35
Hi, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith, welcome to the pursue what matters podcast where we focus on what it takes to thrive in love and work. Boy, it can feel so bad to work hard, only to feel undone by stress and overwhelm. Tell me I’m not the only one. It’s like you’re stumbling along only to then trip and fall with your face stuck squarely in the mud. It is not a good feeling. And I feel like I’ve been there more, more than a couple of times. So today, I have a question for you. Do you know what trips you up? Right? Do you get it? Do you recognize the traps that threaten to keep you not only from progressing, but also keeping you from feeling like you can progress? Feeling like you can pursue what matters. And I think that’s, that’s the real disheartening part, right? There are many of us that will, we’ll get ourselves up, we’ll try and dust ourselves off, wipe the mud from our face, and keep going. But it’s the disheartening part is that overwhelm is that stress, that really undermines our belief that we can progress, that we can move forward on big goals that we can be successful in our life. And so I really want you to understand both parts of that because many of us are good at suffering. And we’ll get back up and keep, keep moving forward. But we’re doing that our ability to do that becomes more and more difficult, because our belief and our confidence that we can progress really takes a hit when we feel undone by stress and overwhelm. And so, you know, it’s easy when we look at, okay, what’s tripping me up? What are the traps, it’s very easy to identify, overwhelm and stress as big culprits. And that can be very true. But today, I want to break this down just a bit more. Because when we just stick to the answer of I’m overwhelmed and stressed, which many of us can say that right. And here’s the other thing, it might be totally accurate. But when we just ended the conversation there, we stay stuck. Because it’s hard to know where to go from there, right? Like by by definition, it’s overwhelming. And so today, instead of ending the discussion there, which too many of us do when we’re feeling stressed out, I really want to focus today on sharing with you two common traps that might be underlying your overwhelm and stress. So that you can actually start to do something about it without feeling overwhelmed without feeling like you don’t know where to start. So I’ll help you understand these traps, what they are, how they show up for us. And of course, we’ll really focus on what you can do to help yourself get stuck so that you’re not undone by stress and overwhelm so that you do feel capable in your life, right? We want to feel competent and capable. We want to believe that when we take an action, it, it’s effective, right. And so, in today’s podcast, we want to get very practical about that. And we’re gonna dig past, I’m stressed and overwhelmed. And here’s the other thing, right, these trip traps can be especially challenging, because they often grow out of our best attributes. And it’s like, Oh, my goodness, is one more challenge. And so as I get into these traps, hopefully you’ll understand that a little bit more. But for now, what are the two traps? So the two very common traps that keep us stuck in stress and overwhelm is one we’re over committed and to wear under protected? Okay, so we’re going to unpack those bags today. But I just want to remind you, that I have a really wonderful resource for you free, is all about D bonking stress myths because our beliefs about stress actually impact the effect they have on us. And so at the end of the podcast, I will share with you information on how you can get your hands on this free resource and it’s very impractical to really help you start to help you get yourself on stock. And so this could be one thing that you could do for yourself at the end of this podcast is just download the resource and see what you think, see what might be helpful for you in your daily life, right, we all have unique circumstances. But stress is not unique to any of us. And so there are skills that are practices that can be very helpful for us not only in coping effectively with stress, but for shifting our understanding of stress and really debunking some of these myths. And of course, every week with the podcast, my goal is to help you pursue what matters by strengthening your confidence to lead right that you have a belief that you can take action, and that you can then take action to help yourself. And so today, primarily, we’re really going to help you lead with clarity by understanding these traps and how they might show up for you. And also, we’re going to help you with leading with curiosity because it requires a certain amount of self awareness. And, you know, not I mean, it’s not a given that we’re self aware, in fact, it for for most of us, the default is around self avoidance, because self awareness and self confrontation can be very painful. And so we tend to defend against that we tend to resist that avoid that. But when we lead with curiosity, it’s all about turning toward our experience, getting curious about what’s happening in our body, getting curious about our thoughts and our feelings. Because when we don’t have self awareness about those things, boy, we can really get tripped up in ways that we don’t even recognize. And so curiosity is always a requirement for leading well, because it helps us to get out of our own way, it helps us to make the commitments necessary to self care and self leadership. And so today, we’ll really be focusing on helping you lead with clarity, and with curiosity. So let’s jump right in and learn more about the first trap. Okay, so we’re talking about traps that keep you stuck in overwhelm, and stress. The first trap is you’re over committed. Now, I’d love to see a raise of hands, how many people are over committed, this is a plague of the capable, because you get lots of requests. So you know, let me just say from the from the get go, that it’s wonderful, to be committed, right to be committed to other people to you know, pursuits to your work is a lovely thing. But here’s the thing, what you commit to makes all the difference. Not all things, not all activities, not all uses of your time are created equally. And so I want you to be committed, but I want you to be discerning in terms of what you commit to. So some questions, are you committed to some dead end relationships? You know, maybe it’s a friendship, that that kind of tears you down, or you end up feeling worse about yourself? You know, obviously, that’s not good. Are you committed to learning a new skill for which you have zero aptitude? So what I would say is, that’s not a good use of your time, the research is really clear that we should spend most of our time strengthening our strikes, getting better at what we already have aptitude towards, and not spend much time trying to overcome deficits, or, you know, make weaknesses in to strengths. And that’s because it just is such a heavy use of resources, right, from energy to time, to, you know, specific skill building required of you and others who might be helping you. Now, obviously, if there’s a deficit that’s impeding your progress, right, it’s impeding your work, you’re slowing down the team, it’s really impeding your most important relationships. Obviously, you need to commit to addressing those issues. But generally speaking, we want to focus on strengthening our strengths, right? So getting even better, standing out even more when it comes to our strengths and not spend too much time on those weaknesses. So, right, don’t spend much time trying to learn a new skill for which you have zero aptitude. Another question for you, are you committed committed to writing a sinking ship while treading water, right? This is not a good use of your time. This is not a good use of your energy. And so like I said, it’s really great to be committed, but what you commit to makes all the difference Not all commitments are created equally. So again, make sure that you’re committed to activities, and relationships that strengthen you. So think about make sure you’re committed to activities, relationships and goals that strengthen you and your ability contribute to contribute meaningfully, right. Because when it comes to pursuing what matters, it’s never just about us. It’s never just about what we want. That would be such a small view of life, and, and our part in it.
Dr. Melissa Smith 10:35
So what you commit to makes all the difference. So when we think about this trap of being over committed, you know, one of the big problems is that we overcame it to others. So we prioritize other people’s goals, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done that, and tell I just got so frustrated. And then so better, and so resentful, that I said enough. But what I recognize and looking back is that was my issue. And that was my lack of a boundary. Because I was always saying, Yes, I was always prioritizing someone else’s goal, someone else’s agenda. And it was hard for me to say no. And so you know, if you recognize this trap, that you tend to over commit to others, I want you to think about the ways that maybe you prioritize other people’s goals, other people’s agendas, maybe recognizing the ways that you have a hard time saying, No, you don’t want to disappoint others, I think here’s another one. And this one is a subtle one, right. And when you recognize you have specific skills, you have a skill set, you’re recognized as quite competent, people will seek you out. And it can be this is where one of your best attributes can be used can be turned against you, if you’re not careful is you feel like, you know what, like, I have these skills. And so I’m under an obligation to say yes. And what I want to say to that is absolutely not, you have got to square that request against your other priorities in life. It’s it would not you you, it would not be good for you to say yes, if it undermines your well being, it would not be good for you to say yes. If it undermines your own goals, it would not be good to say yes, if if you end up chronically frustrated and resentful. And so you’ve got to do the work in your own head first. So that you can abandon the guilt, and that, you know, that self sacrificing obligation to others and really have clarity about, you know, about what comes first for you. And this is not to say, don’t help others and don’t contribute to others, because that is the last thing that I believe or would want for you. But we we justify things and we rationalize our behavior, so that we don’t have to pin ourselves down and be responsible for our commitments. And I think this is a way that some of our best attributes can be turned against us. And they’re not turned against us by others. They’re turned against us by our own unwillingness to set a boundary, our own unwillingness to protect our time and our goals. It’s a big problem. And I have a lot of passionate about it, mostly because, well, a couple of reasons. I see it all the time with folks that I work with. And the second one is this, this is my experience, right? Like I have absolutely walked this path. And I can see how, you know, my notion that, oh, this is a sacrifice for other people. Ultimately, it didn’t help others very much. And it certainly didn’t help me to, to actually do what I can only do to pursue what matters and to contribute at a higher level. For all the time that I over committed to others. I was playing a small game in life. And it’s because I let myself get caught in these justifications and these rationalizations, and so we want to be smarter than our justifications because they can be pretty tricky. So Right. When it comes to this first trap, we overcome it to others. So I really want you to do a little bit of self confrontation around that and see where that might be true for you get specific, who and where and in what circumstances does that show up for you? And then the third point here is we talk about this first trap, right so the first point is it’s great to be committed But what you commit to makes a difference. Second point is you overcome it to others. And the third point is you under commit to yourself. Okay? So this is a big one. And it’s what I just alluded to, perhaps you, you lack respect for your time. You don’t respect your goals, you use Bizzy, as a stand in for worth. And we talked about that not too long ago, when we, when I had a podcast about busy as a badge of honor by being a yes man or Yes, woman, you are, by default, saying no to yourself, and your own sense of purpose. And we don’t want that to happen to you. And let me just tell you, that that keeps you overwhelmed, and stressed out, it just absolutely does. Because you’re not serving your higher purpose, you’re serving someone else’s agenda. So that’s the first trap. And now, right, so we’re talking about the traps that keep you stuck in overwhelm and stress. So now on to the second trap, which is your under protected. So trap. One is you’re over committed. Trap two is you’re under protected. So the first point here is you don’t protect your needs, time, goals and energy. And this is the next step from what I just shared about under commitment to yourself. So you put yourself at the mercy of others, you believe it’s the selfless thing to do. And I just got to tell you, it’s not ultimately it is not because you end up burned out, fatigued, resentful, and wanting to hide under a rock when someone comes calling, it’s not a good thing, it ultimately it leads to isolation, and it leads to distancing yourself from the demands of others and the demands of life. We don’t want that for you. We don’t want that for your relationships. So you maybe feel guilty if you prioritize your needs. So that is a great plague among especially many women, but I think for sure, it happens for anyone in a hierarchal leadership position. It happens a lot of times in families, right for parents feeling guilty if they prioritize their needs. Maybe you believe sacrifice is always noble, and moral. And I’m just here to say it is not. So I find great value and great meaning in sacrifice toward a higher purpose. But not all sacrifices are noble or moral. In fact, sometimes we can tell ourselves, I’m making a noble sacrifice. But really what’s happening is we’re not holding ourselves accountable for our time and for our goals and for our own sense of purpose. And that right like that, really, that that that makes that sacrifice unworthy. And so we really need to be careful about the stories we tell ourselves. And so let’s think about some of the ways that are some of the things that we sacrifice, right? So we sacrifice needs, and we take the stance that others needs are more important than our own. Maybe it’s easy to say needs what needs like, I’m fine.
Dr. Melissa Smith 18:30
I can’t tell you how many times I hear people saying that, like I’m fine. When I ask how are you doing? How are you coping with this? You’ve got a lot on your plate. Are you sure that this is the best plan? And their response inevitably is I’m fine. And I just say that’s BS, right? Like, that’s actually disconnection. And so we need to get curious about what’s not being said, what’s not being looked at. And you still might make the decision to commit to someone else’s project. But you got to have some curiosity and clarity about what’s happening. So you know, when we think about these needs, we disconnect from our physical, emotional and cognitive needs, because it’s just too much to try and be tuned in while serving something that is not a good fit for us. And so what do we do with that distress? And that and that stress that actually kicks up? What do we do with that distress? We emotionally numb so we disconnect from our physical, emotional and cognitive needs because it’s just it’s too much to deal with and we got to get this project done. Okay, so that’s the that’s the first thing that we sacrifice, we sacrifice our needs. The next thing that we sacrifice is we sacrifice our time. We over schedule, we let others over schedule us. We don’t give ourselves enough time between activities. Now this is a big one. And I would say, I’m still working on this one, I have this delusion that like, oh, I can do 20 minutes of stuff in five minutes. And I like I’ve started to catch myself on this to be like, no, like, you know, you’re gonna make yourself late, or you’re gonna, you’re gonna leave someone else waiting, which of course, I don’t want to be disrespectful. But it’s this idea of, you know, I’ll be fine, right? Like, I’ll be fine. And we, we stress ourselves out, right? Think about your stress level when you arrive to an important appointment, five minutes late, versus arriving to that same appointment five minutes early. I mean, it’s a world of difference in your stress level. And so that’s a simple way that we we keep ourselves stuck in stress is we don’t give ourselves enough time or we don’t give ourselves breaks. In the workday, I used to do that, when I first started out in my career, I would, I kept myself really, very tightly scheduled. And that was because I wanted to get home, I wanted to have time with my kiddos, which certainly was a valuable, valuable reason. But I was totally undermining myself. And I was, you know, I think that the quality of my work could have been better had I given myself a break to eat lunch or to you know, I would get lunch, but it was always rushed. It was always, you know, running from one thing to another. And so a big way that you could lower stress is just create some time buffers for yourself. So we have the ideas, I’ve got it like I can do this, I can make this happen, even though like we forget the laws of space and time. And that becomes a big problem. So I want you you know, if you if you’re willing to take a look at your calendar for the coming week, right, and what’s your reaction? Like? Is it Oh, is it dread? Is it stress? Is it overwhelm? Is it frustration? Or is it apathy? Right? So I know for myself when I do my weekly planning on Sundays, and so you know, I’ll pull up my Work calendar. And if I’m tightly blocked by it just absolutely. is a big stress for me. I’m like, oh, no, like, what am I gonna fit it all in or, you know, that’s, that’s too tight, right. And at that point, it’s really too late to make those adjustments. But when I can pull up my calendar, and I have some whitespace, I have some built in time for specific projects and tasks. It Wow, it makes all the difference in terms of how my week proceeds, because I start by being grounded and actually feeling excited for you know, I get to meet with this person. Because I’m not, I haven’t overscheduled myself, I haven’t crunched time such that I, I’m the one that gets bent, which of course is stressful, right? Like when we try to make things work that just won’t work. We end up suffering for that. Okay. So the other thing that we often fail to protect and that we sacrifice are our goals, right? So we prioritize others goals above our own, we don’t block time to work on our goals, right? So we might have goals that they never are showing up in our calendar, right? Like if someone looked at our calendar, they wouldn’t ever know what’s important to us or what our goals are. We also don’t review our goals regularly, right? So you’ve done that you’ve done the first step of setting goals, but then you never take a look at them, you don’t see if you’re out of alignment with them. And we don’t hold ourselves accountable to our goals. And this one, I think is a big one is actually one of the biggest vulnerability points for most people on their goals. They don’t, they don’t tap their progress. They don’t hold themselves accountable consistently over time, to achieving the goals. And this is where we can get into that value conflict between supporting others and abandoning ourselves. And most of the time we end up abandoning our own goals. And it is so true that the most disciplined and successful leaders, whether it’s entrepreneurs, whether it’s corporate or nonprofit, they hold themselves accountable to their goals, and they say no more often than they say, yes. So the other problem is, you know, when we set goals, but then fail to make progress toward them, it really crushes our soul. And this is where we believe that the lack of progress means we’re not competent or capable, which is not true. But what is truth, we didn’t prioritize our goals, we didn’t make time for them. We didn’t protect our time. We didn’t ask others to keep us honest on our progress. And the whole, you know, I didn’t accomplish this goal because I suck excuse is just too easy, right? It’s just too easy to beat up on ourselves and to say, Well, it’s because I’m not good enough, it’s because I’m not smart enough. And that excuse actually gets us off the hook of actually taking responsibility for our actions on a daily basis. And so that might feel like some hard talk. But I’m telling you, this is where people get caught. It feels really rotten to fill in capable, right. So that excuse of like it on the problem, I’m not smart enough. I’m not competent enough, it that that feels miserable. But it feels better than knowing we could have been successful. Had we just disciplined ourselves a little bit more, if we had just turned off the darn TV, if we would have said no to a request, if we would have tracked daily progress. That is where right we think about the wound of an unaccomplished goal, when we see that we could have been successful, had we shifted our small daily practices, that is like pouring salt into that wound. And so most of us don’t, right? Like we stay away from that. And we stick with those big global assessments of our abilities, which, again, are totally inaccurate, but it gets us off the hook from actually changing our daily behavior, right, and the devils in the details. Change happens in the daily details of our lives. And we we know that intuitively, but we don’t respect that. We do not respect that. Okay, so then what is the last thing that we that we sacrifice, right that we under protect. So we’ve already talked about under protecting our needs, our time, our goals, and now the last one we’re going to talk about today is we under protect or sacrifice our energy. So we do not prioritize self care, we don’t get enough sleep, we eat like crap. We don’t exercise regularly. We spend time with people who deplete us, we engage in activities that I would say drain our lifeblood. And what I know for me drains, my lifeblood is when I get stuck in a scroll hole. Now, it’s been really interesting, because, you know, for many of us, if you get curious about your experience with social media, you’ll notice for many of us, right, not everyone that we’re not very intentional with our social media use, it is a go to distress reliever, it’s a go to distractor. So think about I want you to just pay attention to the times you notice that you are pulled to social media, and how much awareness do you have about that, and I would bet money and I’d love to hear from folks that
Dr. Melissa Smith 28:12
that many times, it is something we do to distract maybe from a situation that’s frustrating or a task that we need to do, or when we feel stuck, right? Like I don’t know what to do here, we go to the quick fix of the scroll hole of going through social media, it grabs our attention, it it gives us a break from you know what’s maybe bothering us or what we need to pay attention to. But the but the problem is we use that chronically. So there can be a small case to be made for distraction as an effective coping skill in the very short term. So long term, it’s a really bad way to cope because it comes with a lot of costs. And so I want you to pay attention to activities that drain your lifeblood that you just know like this saps my energy, it doesn’t help I feel worse afterwards. And what I would say for me, it’s getting stuck in a scroll hole. Now, I definitely use social media but I tried to be really intentional about it and to go with a specific purpose. Right so you know, there’s there is a couple of people that I follow that they have really great mobility exercises. So for you know, if you’re working at your desk all day, or if you’ve got hip issues, which I do, and so I will write like I will spend time on social media with a specific purpose in mind, right like, Oh, I I need to review some exercises or I wonder if you know they have a new video because one of the ladies I follow has several videos every week and they’re so good, just simple exercises that I can do and So I’m not against social media at all, I’m on it, I’m social. But we we really want to be intentional about our use. What are other activities that might drain your life blood. So I know another one for me is negative news. So I have to be really careful about how much time I spend with the news. So think about that for you, what drains your energy, some of the other things that we do to under protect our energy is, you know, we resist doing small things proactively, that can save us energy on the back end. So speaking of mobility, right, sometimes it’s not taking the time to roll out after a workout, which sets you up for more pain down the road. One of the other things that sometimes we resist doing is planning our week before the week begins. And you know, I’ve already talked about that a little bit. But I know on those weeks that I don’t take the time to do that. The week just feels off kilter. Because I don’t feel like I am settled. With the plan for the week, I feel like I’m always like a step behind. One of the other things that maybe we resist doing proactively. And you know, it costs us energy on the backend is we don’t consistently go through our email box, so that the emails don’t build up, right. So I was sitting with my girlfriend the other day, and I happen to see his mailbox icon on his phone, and it said, 414 emails, and I just said, Oh, my goodness, like just seeing that totally stresses me out. And he said, Well, I don’t even use that email box, like I use a different app for email. So he’s not 414 emails behind, but Right, think about your own email box, right. And when you get the notifications on your phone, or when you open your computer, right like that can that can be stressful, that experience alone, but then being flooded with a ton of emails, because you know, you’re not, you don’t have a plan for consistently pruning, your email can be a big contributor to overwhelm and stress. So the other thing we want to pay attention to when it comes to energy is you want to understand what’s competing for your attention. So if you’re like most of us, you have a lot competing for your attention. And so this can be a sign of a full and meaningful life. So I don’t want you to get down on yourself. If you have a lot competing for your attention, you’ve probably worked hard to make that a reality. But of course, do be mindful so that you can increase your commitment to planning ahead, setting boundaries, managing your time, and prioritizing self care. So I want you to you know, here’s another question for you, or an activity that you could do, take some time and identify what’s competing for your attention. Right? So
Dr. Melissa Smith 33:00
I’m just gonna list a bunch of things, right, that I think can be common for a lot of people. Because I think when you can see like, Oh, my goodness, like I do have a lot competing for my attention. I think first it can bring in some self compassion, right? Instead of getting down on yourself. Like, why can’t I manage stress better? Why? Why am I always so overwhelmed? You can start with compassion to say, yeah, like,
Dr. Melissa Smith 33:23
I’ve got a lot on my plate, and then you can get focused on looking at, okay, you know, not all of these are probably created equal, how are there ways that I can some shift Make, make a few shifts and make things more sustainable? So here are some some points for your consideration. As you look at what’s competing for your attention. So work that’s a big one families, our teams, right people that we work with health, marriage, partnership, friendships, running a household, right, those darn homes require a lot of energy. So think about cooking, cleaning, groceries, meals, taxes, lawn care, right? It all takes plenty of time and energy. Think about your extended family, your parents, think about your faith or your spirituality, commitment to religion, think about hobbies. So there’s a lot competing for our attention. And so we first want to understand, so we want to get curious, we want to have awareness about that. We want to lead with compassion, right? So instead of getting down on yourself, have some compassion. And then let’s get practical and think about ways that you can better protect not only your energy, your goals, your time, and your needs.
Okay, so now we’re going to wrap up, and I’m going to talk about how you can get unstuck with four skills. Okay? So skill one, get better at saying no, that’s a big one for most of us. So slow yourself down in the moment, so you don’t give up Automatic Yes. This is one of the biggest ways we get stuck and over committed and stuck in over commitment and under protection is we just give an automatic Yes. So what can you do? Thanks for your request, I will get back to you. I never say yes, in the moment. Never, never never. Because first of all I need, I got to respect my desire to please people. And so this is a boundary that I’ve created for myself, so that I have space and time built in to actually consider if I can give a yes, I also, you know, for some decisions want to consult with other people, because my decision doesn’t just impact me. So think about your team, think about your partner, think about your family. So it gives you the space and time to consider their request against your other commitments, goals and needs. We want you to also challenge your need to say yes, so some of the fears that crop up when we have a hard time saying no, is the fear of they’ll stop asking, and I’ll be irrelevant, they’ll be disappointed. And I must make others happy. I feel guilty. And I can’t tolerate the distress. So right. The first part is what we feel. And then the second part is what’s happening under under the surface for us that I feel guilty. But what’s also true is I can’t tolerate the distress of maybe disappointing someone and what I would say is yes, you can, you can learn to tolerate that distress. Okay, the second skill, you need to protect your agenda. So I’ve got three steps here to help you protect your agenda. So step one, pick three goals, identify your top three goals for a week that move your agenda forward that move you forward in purpose and in big goal achievement. So think about this professionally, is there a work project that you need to prioritize personal think about a health goal that maybe you need to make sure you make room for think about developmental goals? For me, right, I’m writing I’m working on a manuscript right now. And that’s a skill development. That’s also something that brings me joy, it connects me with creativity. Step two, prioritize your goals. So I want you to think about your top three goals across the week, right, they are your goals, it’s your responsibility to protect them from the predations of others demands, because I’m telling you, that will happen. So pay attention to your own tendency to push your goals aside, right, because maybe this is this can often show up in the fact that the goal is challenging, and so it’s easier to avoid it. It’s just stressful, right? Like, maybe we don’t know, the next step. And so instead of really digging in and working on it, we we tap out because of that stress, maybe you feel guilty, because gosh, like I really should be focusing on something else instead of this developmental goal. And then the very common belief that others needs matter more, that’s a big one, we get caught in that self sacrificing value. So I want you to keep your top three goals in front of you as you move through your day. tell others what your priorities are, so you have more support. So think about this professionally. So can a team member wait until Tuesday to discuss a new project so that you can complete another task on Monday, right? Like those kinds of conversations can really help think about this personally. So maybe your partner can take the lead on a kid’s soccer game. So you can attend a health appointment or you can go to that fun fitness class. Think about this developmentally. So you know, we think about skill development hobbies, interests, passions, share your goal and your intention at the beginning of the week and asked for accountability through out the week. So you know, the an example of this is I will say I want to write three times this week will you check in with me? And you know, my guy friend is really good about doing that. And you know, even better is yes, let’s actually block it in the calendar. Now let’s let’s make a flexible plan for this.
Okay, and then step three, in helping you to protect your agenda or your goals right. The third step is plan your week. So schedule time to work on your goals during the week. So to two parts to this step first is front load goal work at the beginning of your week, if possible. This builds momentum motivation and engenders confidence that you are keeping your commitment to yourself if you if you wait and shelve your goals until the end of the week, chances are you won’t ever get to them. Okay. And then the second part of planning your week is block your calendar if you can now I recognize not everyone is in charge of their calendar. But if you can block it. So identify and challenge existing calendar stops, right? So existing calendar appointments. Is every item in your calendar necessary? Is every item in your calendar valuable? If you answer yes to all of those, then either you’re very, you’re very tightly aligned, or you’re lying to yourself. So if you answered no, or maybe to some items, which is common for most of us, then I want you to begin considering how you can make changes to these calendar stops to these appointments. So maybe you negotiate with a team member, we’ve already talked about that maybe shortened timeframe of meetings, if you have some influence on that, tighten agendas and stick to it, that’s a big one, we get lost in meetings, encourage focused attention by all and change the frequency of calendar stops. So think about this in terms of meetings, and appointments. And then the last thing is to organize your calendar cadence for more predictability, right. So I know I have this on the first and third Tuesday of every month, right? That helps you to organize yourself, that also helps you to have more predictability, it helps you to manage overwhelm, and stress. So that’s a really big one. So the three steps that are part of skill two, right, so skill two is protect your agenda. So we’re going to pick three goals, we’re going to prioritize your goals, and then we’re going to plan your week. Okay, and now we’re on to skill three, which is to embrace constraints. So this skill is a simple acknowledgement that you can’t do everything you want to do, or even need to do at the same time, right? Embracing constraints invites you to embrace reality, that’s actually what we’re talking about. Because when you wrongly assume that you can be over committed and under protected, you set yourself up for stress, overwhelm, you set yourself up for feeling like a failure and burning yourself out. And we don’t want that happening for you. So when we get overwhelmed with stress, it’s often because we try to do too much without the counterbalance of stress coping skills on board. Okay, so I just want to mention, again, I have a really good stress coping resource for you. So it’s D bonking stress myths. And so if you will head to the show notes, which I’ll share in just a minute, then you can get that free resource there. And it’s practical, right? So we want you to do big things in your life. But you’ve got to counterbalance that with effective coping skills. And so you know, when we have an imbalance in that, we end up overwhelmed by stress. Okay. So when we think about embracing those constraints, we also end up feeling like a failure because we we couldn’t do it. All right, and we had set this assumption that we could, and obviously, this doesn’t mean you’re a failure, it means you can’t do it all, which is just a statement of fact, for all of us, right? It means you’re human, and welcome, right, we’re happy to see you, we’re happy to have you with us. It also can lead to burnout, because you’re chronically over committed and under protected. No one is meant to at all, you can’t keep running indefinitely, you’re going to hit a wall, and there will be consequences, right? And often that is to your own health and well being. And here’s the ironic thing, when you constrain yourself, you’ll actually make more progress and be more effective than if you would not have constrained yourself. So that is an irony that I think can be helpful. So why do we want to constrained we want to constrain time for so this is the block of time, I have to complete this. So I better do it. It helps you to pace yourself. It helps you to you know really be realistic about how long things take. So track how long it takes to do something that you do you know, regularly, and then reduce your goal by 15 to 20%. So if something typically takes 60 minutes to complete, challenge yourself to reduce the time allotted for the next time you do it, by just nine to 12 minutes, that isn’t much time. But if you can do this, even on one task you typically do, you will save so much time across a day, a week, a month and a year. And here’s the other thing, right? You won’t always hit the new mark, but you will get in the habit of taking more active responsibility for your time management and that is a real win. Okay, so the first thing we want to constrain is time. The second thing we want to constrain our resources. So think about information funds people involved, more is not always better, and in fact is sometimes much worse. So attune to resources and use a Goldilocks approach right like what is too little, what is too much, what is just right. And as you orient yourself toward resource constraint, you will develop a very good feel for what is just right, especially as you do things more than once. And then the third thing that we want to constrain are options, too many options is worse than few to then too few options, because it stalls decision making. It feeds overwhelm. And it increases procrastination because it feeds us right in to that overwhelm. And we just can’t take action. So we really want to avoid that. So that is the third skill to embrace constraints. And then the fourth skill is to prioritize self care. So I want you to schedule it in your calendar, make it as important as your commitment to others is, and then I want you to join me next week for a holiday edition, where I will share specific ways you can prioritize self care. So we want to get really practical about that. And so hopefully, you know, the holiday of the holidays can be a good time for you to realign yourself as you reflect on the year that is just ending and as you prepare for the year ahead. So I really hope you will join me next week, as I talk about ways you can realign your commitment to self care and thriving, it’s going to be practical, and it’s going to be focused and I’m not going to take too much of your time. So I hope you will join me there. So as a review, we talked about four skills to help you get unstuck from stress and overwhelm skill one get better at saying no skill to protect your agenda. Skill three, embrace constraints, and skill four prioritize self care and then join me next week, where we’re going to do a deep dive into prioritizing self care. So head on over to my website to check out the show notes with all the great resources for this episode. You can also get your hands on the Debunking stress resource that’s also really practical. I hope it’s very helpful for you. I created it to be helpful. You can find all those resources including the Great debunking stress resource by heading over to my website www.drmelissasmith.com/137-stresstraps/. One more time. That’s www.drmelissasmith.com/137-stresstraps/. So I’m social I would love to connect with you on Instagram at @dr.melissasmith. In the meantime, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith. Remember love and work, work and love. That’s all there is. Until next time, take good care
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