Last weekend I felt overwhelmed, I had so many things going round my head. The week before had been my Mum’s 80th Birthday, and we had all travelled to see her. It was a lovely celebration full of emotion. Spending precious time with family is so special. I had placed so much importance on these few days with my Mum, my boys, my Sister, my Niece, my Nephews and my Great Niece, that it was becoming quite stressful and overwhelming. I know my Mum felt the same, gladly we both managed to calm down long enough to enjoy her special day. Even so the whole experience was quite emotionally draining. When we got home on Thursday I felt depleted.
On Friday and Saturday I decided to concentrate on my leading through the pandemic project. I spent most of Friday working out a strategy on how to present it. I got myself confused and stressed trying to rush the process to get something that made sense. I ended up wasting a lot of time messing around with transcripts and not really getting anywhere. This confusion and stress was swiftly followed by doubt and feelings of inadequacy. On Saturday morning after writing a blog and settling my mind I continued to work through transcripts this time reframing my actions as a helpful way to examine the content of transcripts, identifying themes and testing some ideas about how I might present the project.
I then started thinking about the daily blog entries I made at the beginning of the pandemic, that were a mixture of diary entries about what was happening to me and around me, with my thoughts on how to maintain our resilience. So I revisited them and had an idea of putting them all together into a book, that could be a companion piece to the leadership project. So I spent the rest of the day editing them and putting them into one document. This spilled over into Sunday and a large part of Sunday was spent fiddling with the entries and writing an introduction, as well as an hour spent exploring how I could get it published on Amazon. Even though I was having fun doing all this, I could feel a tension in my body. There was this underlying pressure to get things done, but I had taken on so much that it felt like it was impossible. As the Sunday drew to a close my focus shifted to work and all that needed to be done in the coming week and the following weeks. That with my personal projects was just too much. My mind was muddled with too many moving parts. For a moment I felt like pushing the stop button and taking myself off to bed for the rest of the year. I dismissed that thought immediately, I have got no choice, if I don’t go into work on Monday at finish designing the leadership webinar, continue co-ordinating the 360 degree feedback for our leadership programme participants, and co-ordinate the Clinical Supervision training for next year, then it won’t get done and I will feel more stressed and overwhelmed in the coming days and weeks.
I had a choice, I could continue to be zoomed out looking at all that needs to be done and feel overwhelmed, or I could zoom in on what needs to be done right now to achieve the big picture. I know I can do what needs to be done, some of it might be at the edge of my competence, but I know I can get support when I need it. So I parked the weekend projects to revisit this week and started shifting my focus to what I would be doing on Monday. I still had the tension in my body, I still felt pressure to achieve, throughout Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. I ended up recognising that, that tension was required to create the sense of urgency I needed to create some pace to get the different elements done. Half way through the week, my boss gave me some feedback that had a profound effect on me. She told me that the work I had done to develop a modular leadership programme was well received and added flexibility for the participants, many of whom are juggling completing the programme with high work demand. It was just the motivating tonic I needed. I really felt I was getting somewhere.
Last weekend and the beginning of last week was uncomfortable, I felt overwhelmed and out of my depth. It would have been easy to avoid those unpleasant feelings and shy away from pushing myself to achieve. What I did was acknowledge why I felt that way. I felt that way because it was important for me and others to complete what I started. My core values are courage and usefulness. My values were clearly driving me to keep going and achieve. Therefore the emotions I was feeling were helpful. To get the work done and to start achieving my goal I needed to concentrate on smaller performance goals each day, goals that I could achieve each day. So I zoomed in and focused on those individual goals using the tension and anxiety created by my need to be useful to motivate me. Halfway through the week my value of usefulness was validated which motivated me further.
When work or life starts to get too much, be curious about the emotions you are feeling, listen to what your mind and body are telling you. Allow yourself to make the right choice even if in the short term it is uncomfortable.