What to Do When You Are Overwhelmed


Are you feeling overwhelmed? You are not alone. I have held three business coaching sessions this month and each of those clients have wonderful business ideas. However, none of them can seem to get their business off the ground. They just don’t know where to start. So, they haven’t.

They are overwhelmed by the myriad of tasks before them, the countless choices they must make and the endless possibilities. In lieu of beginning, they continue concepting and ideating. They uncover shiny new ideas that distract them from acting on their original one. Having too many choices leads to decision making paralysis.

My advice to each of these business people was to make their bed.

Years ago, I handed my boss a strategic plan that I had spent quite a bit of time creating and was rather proud of. He held the document up and said, “Where’s all the stuff?”

“What do you mean?” I replied.

“There’s nothing to this,” he said. “When I was consulting, a deck wasn’t done until it could pass the ‘light test.’ By that I mean, you print it on a ream of transparencies and lift it up to the light. If you could see any light shine through the deck, it wasn’t done.” He was a smart guy, but in this case he was dead wrong.

Why? Because plans that pass the “light test” never see the light of day.

A colleague of mine was also a former management consultant. One day over lunch he told me his wife, a consultant, was working on the very same project that he had completed a few years prior, for the same client. They had even come up with the same conclusions and recommendations.

“What do you think they’ll do with her recommendation deck?” I asked him.

“Probably the same thing they did with mine,” he replied. “Nothing.”

I would bet the bank both of their strategic decks could pass the light test.

Complex plans rarely get executed properly. They confuse and overwhelm the very people they are supposed to help focus.

That doesn’t mean there won’t be complex solutions to complex problems. And it certainly doesn’t mean bringing a new idea to life will be simple or easy. Facing a daunting project or long list of tasks is overwhelming and many people just shut down.

The antidote is to make your bed.

Navy SEAL Adm. William McRaven explained it this way: By making your bed each morning, “you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and encourage you to do another task… and another and another. And by the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed.

Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that the little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you’ll never be able to do the big things right. And if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made. That you made. And a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.

“So, if you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.”

Take the first step, no matter how seemingly insignificant. You’ll be surprised where it leads.

Having trouble making your big idea come to life? I can help: kentaylor@39consulting.com

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