Sometimes I get stuck. I get overwhelmed. I get anxious. I worry about how I’m going to get it all done. I convince myself that that’s it - I’ve had the last customer I’ll ever have and I’ll officially be outed as a colossal failure. I think that life is often like this, especially as a small business owner; huge ups and huge downs. Exhilarating moments followed by crushing self-doubt.
I see this a lot with clients and readers, too. I did a survey a while back and a few words came up over and over and over. Stuck. Overwhelmed. Anxious. Nervous. Depressed. Frustrated. Inadequate. Does that sound like how you feel about changing your approach to money?
“I don’t know where to begin.”
“I'm getting better but it's all very overwhelming.”
“Frustrated, depressed - stressed all the time.”
I can teach you all the tools in the world, but if you’re feeling like this, you aren’t going to be able to keep up the energy to keep slogging on yet-another-student-loan-payment, let alone make progress on your big goals. When is that going to be paid off, again? 2078?
I had a day recently where I was feeling overwhelmed. My to-do list was approximately a football field long. I still hadn’t unpacked from a recent trip that I’d returned from a week earlier. It was my turn to make dinner. I had family in town. I wasn’t sure how on earth it was all going to get done, let alone work on creating great content and strategic goals and managing a team or map out your new course. Talk about UGH. I had one day to get about a week’s worth of work done and it just broke me. All I wanted to do was curl up in my cozy chair with a blanket and a cup of tea and read a book. The problem with that plan was that darn to-do list - and that it was July and way, way too hot for that nonsense. So what did I do?
I made a hair appointment. I fed the dog. I put in a load of laundry. I finally unpacked that suitcase. I walked said dog. I put away the laundry (well, some of it, I’m not Wonder Woman). I put some chicken in the crock pot and called dinner “done”. I paid some bills. I tended to the mail that was piling up on my desk. I took the trash out. I responded to some emails. And while I ate my lunch, I watched some trashy TV while curled up in my cozy chair. I took a short nap. I budgeted - which, believe it or not, I hadn’t done in over two weeks (I’m firmly a daily budget believer).
I listened to myself and decided that the most important thing on my list for that day was self-care.
For me, that looked like taking care of all the things in my physical environment that were distracting me but that also allowed me to do a few things that felt so good: checking things off my list and getting some quick wins.
How does this apply to feeling overwhelmed by your financial situation?
I bet that when you think about your financial situation, you think about things like increasing your income, reducing your debts, putting some savings away, how you’re never going to retire, praying that no one in your family gets sick, and how maybe you’d like a vacation before the turn of the century. That stuff is important, but it’s also big. Let’s get into some details.
- Do you have a calendar of when all of your autopays come out and about how much they are for?
- Speaking of autopays, are you still paying for that “free trial” that expired two months ago?
- Have you been meaning to call and cancel your cable?
- Have you called your cell phone, internet, or credit card companies lately to see about getting a rate reduction?
- When’s the last time you shopped your car or home insurance around?
- Have you been meaning to look into something like life insurance or getting a will or a safety deposit box or any number of those “ugh I’m an adult now, I should probably at least pretend to have my stuff together” things?
- Is there a medical bill or something lying around that you’ve been putting off calling and dealing with because you don’t know what is going to happen?
Your task, when you’re feeling overwhelmed, is to come up with 5-10 things that are small and making you feel bad by staying undone. They should each be things you can get off your mind and off your to do list in 20 minutes or less. Gather the information you need (phone numbers, dates, etc) and start doing the things.
Now - it’s likely that none of these things are going to net you big financial wins. You could probably shave some money off your monthly bills, possibly even substantially, but that’s not why I’m having you do this. You’re doing this because when you’re stuck in a state of overwhelm, you need to get moving again - in any direction. Doing these tasks will help you feel like you’ve begun and as any self-help book can tell you, starting is the hardest part. It gives you an hour or two of distraction and forward momentum, and that’s huge.
I want you to do the things until one of the below happens:
- You finish the things, OR
- You feel better and can tackle some “big stuff”
If you feel better after doing 2 things and you’ve got 8 things on your list, don’t feel like you need to keep going. You can, but you can also save those for the next time you get stuck in overwhelm mode - because let’s be real, that’s happening again. But now you’ve got a plan.
Do you have tips for getting unstuck? Tell me in the comments below!