Focus and Action Overcome "Overwhelm"

By Ann
June 1, 2008
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In the wisdom of Yogi Berra, "When you come to a fork in the road, take it." Simple enough, right? Straight forward wisdom you can apply when you have
so much to do and large projects to accomplish. Pick an option and get into action.

How can something so simple give you a sense of power that enables you to start even the most complex projects with no end in sight? Instead of expending your
mental energy imagining the enormity of the obstacles you could encounter, focus on the next step and get to work.

Paint a picture of the end result. Imagine what steps you took to achieve the result and this becomes your plan of action. Write it down as your road map. Choose the next logical step. Do it. Nothing energizes like focused right action. Why spend your energy immobilized anxiously thinking about all you have to do? Do something!

When I see someone who is significantly overweight, for example, out walking or going into the gym, I silently applaud them. I admire their initiative to take some steps (pun intended) in the right direction.

What about your garage that's so cluttered you can't park your car in there? Is your attic or spare bedroom so jammed full you can't cuss a cat without getting hair in your mouth?

Organizations can be overwhelmed, too. Senior leadership teams who identify important strategies to move their business forward are immobilized by the sheer enormity of the work and the length of time to accomplish it. This plus the day to day activities to keep the doors open can be overwhelming.

One of our clients successfully completed a long range, complicated project to get a higher level of industry certification. Despite knowing it was important to their growth and profitability, they put off doing it because it seemed overwhelming. With our help they devised a simple, step by step plan of action and got to work. Their sense of pride in their accomplishment showed in their smiling faces. Customer satisfaction and a better bottom line looked good to them, too!

Steps to move from overwhelm to action and results:

1. Stop. Give yourself permission to take a break and assess.
2. Have a clear picture of the end result. Accept that it takes time. You can achieve the end result.

3. Focus on what action by you and others is required to move you closer to your outcome.

4. Identify what will give you the most leverage for your efforts both long and short term.

5. Choose a few measurements to track your progress.Make sure the measurements are the right ones. Measuring attaches importance to something.

6. Be willing to give up goals or actions that do not serve you or your organization even if you have been doing them a long time.
7. Begin. Accomplish one step at the time. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole stair case to take the first step."

Benefits of focus and action:

1. You discover what works and what doesn't.
2. You are creative as you decide on a new direction.
3. You share information with others to engage their help.
4. You cooperate with others to tap their experience and expertise.

5. Your mental energy is focused on getting results not on internal negative chatter.
6. You discover things can turn out much better than you imagined or hoped for.
7. Your anxiety and irritability levels decrease while your approachability and productivity increase.
8. Your action creates energy that is contagious and builds confidence.
9. You see evidence that your action is producing results.

Adjust your perspective from the inside. Change starts here. Instead of seeing monumental and never ending meetings, phone calls, emails, decisions and activities to perform, see small, doable tasks. There is always plenty to do regardless of how much you do. Shift your internal focus and watch the results manifest. Just choose a path when you come to a fork in the road and take that first step.

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