On feeling overwhelmed.
Hello friends! I'm back! A few of you might have wondered what happened after my week of vacation as I didn't post anything last week - and I've also been less active on Instagram than usual. Don't worry, everything is good - it's just A LOT of work at the moment.
Last week was, frankly speaking, completely overwhelming and exhausting. I've always been a hard worker, but this, this took the crown of "weeks with not enough sleep and too many hours in front of a laptop and BRAIN IS FRIED" with a long shot.
When I was deep in the trenches last week I thought "hey, it would be really cool to post about this so that other people don't feel so alone when they're feeling overwhelmed". Only - there was no time last week. So here is that post - with a few days of distance and less caffeine in my blood.
Every once in a while, I get a comment on Instagram or on Youtube or someone tells me in a call that I always seem like I have my shit together. I think, generally speaking, I am indeed pretty good at having my shit together about 80% of my time (with "having my shit together" not only referring to getting stuff done and managing different projects, but also to being weird and oversharing and posting dance videos on Instagram). BUT. That does not mean that there are not times in my life where I feel completely and utterly overwhelmed by my workload. So if you're feeling overwhelmed, don't be ashamed or afraid - you're not alone. Everyone feels that way sometimes.
And honestly, sometimes there's no other way than to push through it. Through the overwhelming workload in front of you, through sleepless nights with too much coffee, through not being the friend, partner, kid, parent you want to be. Over the course of last week I thought about how I do this, how I push through it and I thought I would share that with you in case you're in a similar situation and need a light of hope.
I first learned about tilting through Brooke's excellent Slow Your Home podcast. Back then, the concept was an eye opener for me - and it still is my number one secret to pushing me through times like these (even though I'm not always 100% good at it). Tilting essentially means that there are times where you tilt towards work, and other times where you tilt towards other things. (Here's a really good article about it.) The beauty of this concept is that in contrast to the term "balance" it doesn't create the illusion that you have to have it all. Or even that you can have it all in a perfect balance of work and play and life and family and friends.
On some ideal days, yes, this balance does exist. But on others - especially in time of overwhelm - I think it's good to give in and tilt, heavily, to one side, in this case WORK.
What does that mean in practice? It meant that I let go of a lot of expectations last week and fully tilted into work.
I let go of the expectation of creating content last week. I announced publicly that I would not publish a blog post, newsletter or podcast episode. I also let go of the expectation of answering every comment on Instagram within a day - and of posting three times a day like usual. I let go of the expectation of doing non-core work - i.e. any work that was not related to 1) Making Stories, 2) current client coaching, 3) finishing project bag orders and projects that were on a deadline. Everything else I let go of.
Tilting was not only present in my work, but also in other parts of my life. I let go of the expectation to talk to a lot of my friends until the book is at the printer. I let go of the expectation of meeting people that are not in my closest, closest circle until then. Everyone who I didn't want to see with a resounding full YES in my heart needs to wait until the book is in print. This was HARD. I'm still a people pleaser and rescheduling and not prioritizing people, especially friends, is crucifying for me sometimes.
Tilting resulted - for me quite unexpectedly - in an incredible burst of productivity. By pushing everything that was not core to the side, I was able to get into the flow of working, for example, on edits for WOODS more easily than usual which meant a lot more got done faster.
One danger with tilting is that you can easily not do anything for yourself anymore. I find that rituals are crucial to prevent this. My morning routine saved my sanity last week because no matter how much work there was, I made sure to at least do 10min of working out (again, tilting - normally it's 45min) and a short meditation before starting to work. This meant that I had done something for myself at the start of the day that no one - not even my craziest tilting - could take away from me and I wouldn't go to bed feeling like I had ONLY worked this day.
Now, I'm not a Hippie. But one sentence that I stumbled across last week gave me so much peace that I looked at it over and over again when I was feeling like I couldn't go on anymore that I thought it would be worth mentioning here. Last year, my friend Vivian gave me a card when we were attending an art exhibition opening that was part of a performance piece. It read: "Put what you have down and the rest will come." I tacked this up against my studio wall and when I read it by chance in the middle of last week, it had a super calming effect on me. It felt as if it told me that working on the core essentials of what I do was enough, that I didn't have to worry for a while about how to promote it, that I could just focus on DOING THE WORK. And that was exactly what I needed. Which leads to...
4. Being okay with doing the work.
Let go of your expectations to have a full balanced life for a while. Lean in, tilt, into the work and find peace in it. Celebrate small and big successes, cross them off your to do list and do a little happy dance, reward yourself with a walk or an ice cream or a hug from your partner. Be okay with this season being hard and exhausting and overwhelming. Surrender to it. It will get better, you know that.