Jane is the owner and operator of a very successful business and is financially secure. She has a family and home responsibilities as well. In our coaching session, she described how she felt burned out and recently thought of selling it all and walking away. As we explored the issue, she acknowledged that in the stress and busyness of the last six weeks, she had lost an appreciation of the bigger picture, which included the next steps in the development of her organization, the maturity of her role, and her interest in serving her employees and clients.
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When on a hike and confronted by a charging grizzly bear, your thoughts turn to one thing only, getting out alive. You stop thinking about the enjoyable hike and why you are doing it in the first place. Your thoughts will not turn to your next steps on the hike, creative endeavor, or strategic thought. Your focus is on the immediate, urgent, and tactical.
Busyness and stress (often self-created) put you in a reactive, survival mode (like trying to escape the bear). In this mode, it’s easy to lose sight of why you are doing what you are doing. Vision and motivation for the original purposes wane. There is little or no space for discovering strategic adjustments needed, seeing options, or identifying long-term goals for your position, role, or business as a whole. This is why the old proverb is true, “When alligators surround you, it’s easy to forget that your original purpose was to drain the swamp.”
When your focus is not restricted to survival, you can see more of the immediate context, imagine the future, and design solutions to problems. Most importantly, you’ll have access to the cognitive processes that allow you to see the big picture and hold broader perspectives.
Here are some questions and thoughts that can help you regain your appreciation of the bigger picture that was lost to your busyness and stress.
- Design and implement a “slow down.” It is quite likely that your busy schedule and associated stress are created because you’ve allowed other people and things to drive you. Stop allowing it. You are in control of yourself. Drop the pace by 40-50% for a period of time. This is not lazy, it’s smart.
- Slowing the pace can give you time and the ability to think about the sources of your busyness and stress and what you would like to be different (or not). Try using these questions to generate thought processes. I recommend writing out your answers.
- What is creating feelings of overwhelming, exhausting busyness and stress in your life and career? Consider listing daily activities for a couple of weeks to help with this.
- How do these things contribute to your mission in life, respectively? Distract you from your mission in life?
- How do these things fully align with your values, respectively? Not align with your values?
- What role do you continue to take on that needs delegating to someone else? Avoid the lie that “It’s just easier to do it myself.”
- What do you continue to say “yes” to when you want to say “no?”
- What inefficiencies are you allowing in personal and organizational processes that multiply your busyness and stress?
- In what ways has your personal and professional development changed the reasons for what you do best? Changed what energizes and motivates you? Changed the value of your contribution across areas of responsibility?
- Establish a pace that keeps you out of survival mode by saying “yes” to the things that align with your mission and values, build on your maturity and strength, and that only you can do. Say “no” to everything else.
I work with clients on these issues all the time. What I share here is just the start. There is so much more to say and do with it than we can do in these few words.
If you’d like to explore the possibilities of keeping the big picture in view by managing your busyness and stress, please get in touch with me today.