Welcome back to Alchemy for Authors!
This week I have a solo episode for you where I talk all about overcoming overwhelm as an Indie Author. Some things I share are:
· Why getting clear on your ‘Writing Why’ and your values is essential for minimising overwhelm.
· The power of Pareto’s Law to direct us towards where to spend our time and energy, and what to let go of.
· The magic question I ask myself every day to ensure I’m reaching my goals and ending the day feeling accomplished.
· A little-known way to supercharge your affirmations, break habits, and put an end to overwhelm.
· And why sometimes the thing you most need to do is nothing!
If you’ve ever found yourself drowning in to-do lists, and overwhelmed and burnt out trying to do ALL the things, then this episode is for you!
If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, rate and review. You can also support the show by buying me a coffee at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/jobuer. Your support helps me keep this podcast going.
The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron
The 80/20 Principle: Achieve More with Less by Richard Koch
”I Don’t” Versus “I Can’t”: When Empowered Refusal Motivates Goal-Directed Behavior by Vanessa M. Patrick & Henrik Hagtvedt
Join my Alchemy for Authors newsletter and download your FREE copy of Manifestation for Authors here: https://www.subscribepage.com/manifestationforauthors
If you enjoy Gothic Suspense, you can join my reader’s newsletter and download a FREE copy of my short story collection, Between the Shadows, here.
Find the full transcript of this episode below.
Episode 54: Overcoming Overwhelm as an Indie Author
Jo: Hello, my lovelies, welcome to episode 54 of the Alchemy for Authors podcast. I hope you’ve all been having a wonderful few weeks. I am excited to share with you another episode.
And as usual, whenever I do a solo episode like this one, I tend to choose topics that are at the forefront of my mind and my experience at the time. Mostly because, sometimes I find that by doing an episode like this, I’m able to articulate those things that I actually need to hear myself. The things that I know, and I’m sure you’ve probably experienced this before, that sometimes, we actually know the solutions to what we are going through or our problems and that, but we need either somebody else to articulate them for it to actually sink in and for us to pay attention, or we need to give advice to somebody else that is what we actually need to hear most.
So today’s episode, I wanted to talk about overcoming overwhelm as an indie author. And as usual, I feel like I need to start with a bit of a disclaimer. And I often feel this way whenever I’m doing a solo episode. And that for anybody listening to this, I really want it known that there’s things that I talk about on this show are not things that I have mastered. Despite talking about mindset and manifestation and having amazing bestselling authors and millionaire authors and manifesting experts on the show, I am really not any of those. That is not the stage of my writing career that I am at. I have been writing and publishing books only for a handful of years, or less than that really just for a few years. I have been in the world of writing and books and in the world of mindset and manifestation pretty much my entire life though. And so despite having a lot of the knowledge, I don’t always remember to put it to use in my own life. And so as long as you’re aware that when you’re listening to this, when you’re listening to me, I am not at this point a millionaire author sitting in plush surroundings, writing my books, not having to worry about a day job or anything like that, and having it all together. In fact, I’m quite the opposite. I do not often have it all together at all. Hence, this episode on overwhelm. It is something that I battle with in all areas of my life. So I do not have all the solutions, but I do have some tips and experience with things that do help me out, particularly when I put them into practice. And so my hope is that simply by sharing, I might be able to help you out a little bit as well, if you’re going through a similar thing. Even if it’s just in the knowledge that you are not alone. I think all authors, all writers, all creatives, everybody really on the planet at some point has found themselves bogged down with the feeling of overwhelm. Like there is just too much on their plate and no sense of balance, and the feeling itself can be quite crippling. It can cause depression and anxiety and sleepless nights and all those things. So that is where I wanted our conversation to go today. Talking a little bit about what we can do to help overcome overwhelm when it shows up in our lives.
Now because this podcast is geared towards authors and writers, I wanted to narrow down a little bit on overcoming overwhelm as an indie author, primarily because that’s my experience and in talking to a lot of indie authors, there are a lot of balls that we are trying to keep up in the air at the same time. We are juggling a lot. So as an indie author, it’s not just about the writing, the books, the researching, the editing, it’s also about all those other things that go on in the background as well. So depending upon whether you outsource some of these things, or maybe you’re one of those people that really does try and do it all. You might also be the person in charge of doing your covers, and metadata, and writing your blurbs, and formatting your books. Marketing and promotion, that is a whole entire time-consuming beast in itself, depending upon what that looks like for you, whether it’s Facebook ads or Amazon ads, or applying for different promotions and sales on different forums. It could be TikTok or social media, it could be newsletters or a combination of all of those things as well.
So the whole writing, publishing, marketing aspect of indie authorship requires us to generally be willing to jump from one thing to the next all the time. And I know for myself, I’m often thinking of all these things all at once. So I could be writing a book and then all of a sudden the thought jumps into my mind, oh, gotta remember I’ve gotta do the social media post for this. Or, Ooh, it’s about time I went and looked for some newsletter swaps with other authors for my next upcoming newsletter. And so these things are all jumping around in my head at the same time.
At this point in my career, I am pretty much a one-person show. I do most of it myself, including this podcast. I do get somebody to design my covers for me. So that’s something that I don’t do. And I do have a professional editor that I work with as well. But everything else is on me. And part of me, I admit, loves it. I love having that control over everything. It’s just the way my brain works. But of course these things also lead to overwhelm.
Add to that, like many of you, we are not just authors, but we have other lives as well outside of writing and publishing. For myself, that’s a very full-on full-time job, that often weaves its way into my evenings and weekends and any breaks I take as well, unfortunately. I also have, you know, family and other responsibilities and yeah, for a lot of you, I know you’ve also got families, some of you have children, you’ve got part-time jobs or full-time jobs, or just other responsibilities as well. And so that is a lot for us to juggle.
And I know I’ve said this before on the show, but there’s a reason that we add these extra things to our plates, like writing and publishing books. And it’s generally because we’re passionate about it, or for myself at least, that’s why I do it. My life would probably be a million times easier with a lot more downtime if I gave it all up, if I stopped writing, stopped this podcast. But my life would also be so much less fulfilling. This is really what does light me up and what I feel a great deal of my purpose is, hence, I’m here showing up doing this.
So I think we all understand what overwhelm is. It’s that nasty beast that generally leads to burnout. So it leads to that anxiety and that exhaustion and that feeling of not being good enough, or imposter syndrome, or comparisonitis, where we’re looking at other people who seem to have it all together and are so much further along the paths than we are and maybe achieving those things that we wish we had but didn’t. And so there’s all those kind of negative emotions and feelings that can really make us feel less than we are and contribute to, as well as really exemplify that feeling of overwhelm.
So I do have a list of ways to help with overwhelm. Obviously, this is something that is ongoing for me and I think it probably will be for you. I don’t think there’s anybody on the planet who has got to the other side and is like, oh, overwhelm never bothers me anymore. Maybe there is, I could be wrong. And they are very, very fortunate people. And all I feel like I can do is encourage us all to get to the point where at least we have a better handle and don’t let overwhelm overcome us.
So from my experience, whenever I start feeling really overwhelmed with all the things that I feel like I should be doing, or want to do, or need to do, or those crushing deadlines or whatnot in my author life, is, I go back to the real basics of getting clear on my why. Sometimes I need that reminder of why I chose to write and publish books in the first place. Why I chose to do this, because like I’ve just said, without a doubt, my life would be easier without it, but it’s not going anywhere. I’m not letting this go, and that is a choice I’ve made because I very deeply feel that my why, my purpose, my reason for being, is tied up in this act of creation through my writing and my books and my words.
So back in, I think it might have even been episode one of Alchemy for Authors, I talk about finding your why and the importance of being really, really clear about why you are doing this. That in itself can really keep us going through the tough times. I think it’s also equally as important to get really clear on your values. Not just the reason why you’ve set these goals for yourself and your writing and your publishing, but what your values are, what you are hoping to get out of it, and if the path that you’re on right now even aligns with those values.
So it’s taken me quite a while to get really, really clear on my values and to reduce them down to just four. Three of them are my primary values, and then one of them is a newer addition to the list, I guess. And I think that’s really important too, that we don’t overwhelm ourselves with having too many values or too many reasons behind our why.
What has helped me is finding a list of values online and just kind of going through and circling all those words that really jump out and speak to me. And then again, reducing them down to those few that really just feel right. And the importance of getting clear on our values is because ideally that is gonna give us better clarity on what we should be working on. Because believe it or not, all these things that we tell ourselves we need to be doing for our author career, and there is a lot, and different gurus in the industry will tell you different things, but we don’t need to do all of them. In fact, trying to do everything is actually probably gonna hold us back from reaching our goals rather than push us forward. The reason being, not everything’s really gonna be in alignment with us, our values and what we are trying to achieve.
Just so that you’ve got an idea of what I’m talking about when I say values, I’ll share with you mine. So I have four values, like I said, three of them are quite solid ones I’ve had for most of my life, I guess, and one of them is a newer one. And I tend to just think of them as a silly acronym, but it’s just P P I F. I know, right? And they’re not really in any order, but it’s just so that I remember them.
P passion. It is so important to me that in what I’m doing, I love what I do and that it brings me joy. I need to be passionate about it. If I’m not passionate about it, if it doesn’t light me up inside, then I just don’t see the point in doing it.
The next P is the newer edition, and that’s profit, and that’s because my greater why for writing is that I want to be moving that needle towards an entrepreneurial career full-time. And to do that, I need to start focusing a lot more strongly on making a profit from the things that I’m doing. So far, I haven’t really invested a lot of money into marketing or advertising or promotion, or a lot of energy or time into that either. At this stage in my career, it’s been more about writing the books, building that foundation, creating a newsletter list, all those good things. But I am definitely finding my desire’s changing a lot more lately towards that desire to make more of a profit from my efforts, which I think is fair.
So my third value is impact. For something to be important to me, I want it to be impactful. And so what that means to me is that I want what I do to inspire, encourage, and educate other people. Hence, I do things like this podcast where I’m hoping there are aspects of this or different episodes that will reach different people at the right time and help them in some way. Whether it’s the words of one of my wonderful guest speakers on the show who just inspires or educates, or if there’s something that I’m sharing myself in one of these solo episodes that just resonates and gets people thinking about things in a different way. My fiction books, to be honest, are exactly the same. Even though they’re in the realm of gothic suspense and a little bit dark. Because I tend to write ghost stories, that’s my thing, I do always have that hope in the back of my mind that there is enough in the story that will linger with my reader afterwards, and get them just considering the afterlife and what happens after we die just a little bit differently. That’s always been something that’s really spoken to me and that’s what my hope is through my books.
And my final value, although, like I said, these are not in order, but it is freedom. And I think many of us who are drawn to this indie author lifestyle, this is probably, or possibly one of the values that a lot of us carry, and that is freedom. For me, one of the things that I value most in what I do is that idea of creating freedom for myself, freedom of time, to use my time how I choose. Freedom of money so that I’m eventually in the position where I’m no longer restricted by glass ceilings or reliant on a wage or salary determined by factors outside of myself. And also the freedom of choice. One of the things that I love about the indie author profession is that we have so much choice. We can decide those things that we are going to do with our books, how we’re gonna promote them, how much we are gonna do ourselves, and how much we’re going to delegate out to other people. And so just that feeling of freedom, of choice, of being able to decide, oh, today I just need a me day, and being able to take it off without feeling obligated to somebody else or somebody else’s schedule. So those kind of things are really important to me. Obviously, like I’ve said, I’m not living them all right now, but this is what I aspire to and where I’m trying to realign the things that I do in my life that are of importance to me.
So hopefully that’s inspired you a little bit about getting some clarity around what your values are and why you’re doing that. Now, the reason these things are important, the knowing your why and your values and that, in overcoming overwhelm, is that when you get clear on these things, you can really start to hone down on what is important and what is not important in your indie author career and all the big long to-do lists that you’ve likely created for yourself.
Because here’s the thing, I get stuck in this mindset all the time and have to pull myself out, but everything is not important. I know, I know. Sometimes it feels like everything is equally important and like I said, this is something I struggle with all the time, but it is not. It is not equally important. Some things are just more important than others, and really the decision of what is important is up to you. One of the ways of getting clear about this is by aligning your to-do list with those things that align with your values, and that is where you can get clarity on where you really should be spending your energies and your effort and your time.
Now, like I said, I find myself in this predicament all the time where I feel like everything is important. I’ve got, you know, a family, and a full-time job, and this podcast, and writing books and everything like that. So there is a lot of competing things on my to-do list for my time and energy. And being who I am, I tend to think, oh yes, but I can multitask. That’s fine. I’ll just make everything important or at least some things from every one of those lists important. We as humans are really poor multitaskers, no matter what we tell each other, by trying to multitask and do all the things and give a hundred percent in all the areas, we’re doing ourselves a big disservice. And we’re doing the things that we’re most passionate about, like our writing, a big disservice too. Because we cannot give the best of ourselves to so many things at once. It doesn’t work. You can be good at a lot of things, but you’re never going to be great at a lot of things. And I know people might argue with me about that, but I honestly think that that is true. We need to choose those areas that we are going to spend our energy, our time, and our effort. And those areas can fluctuate and change for sure.
There are times where you are going to need to be putting the best of yourself into your family and your book stuff in that is just gonna have to slide. And that’s just the way it has to be. And there is nothing wrong with that. Not at all. Particularly if one of your high values is your family. That might be the reason behind why you are on this authorpreneurial path is because you wanna provide for your family or have more time for your family. That could be one of your values. So what is most important can change, but not everything is important.
And you might have heard of this before, but I think it’s worth talking about, and that is Pareto’s Law, the law of 80/20. And so this is really the idea that less is more and that 20% of what we do actually gets us 80% of our results, and 80% of our stress generally only comes from 20% of the things. So let’s just unpack that a little bit more.
Like I said, we can be good at a lot of things, but we’re not generally gonna be great at a lot of things. There’s gonna be one or two key things that we are going to probably really excel at. Those are the things that would be most efficient for us to focus our energies on. So that 20% of things that we really excel at, that fall into our zone of genius, as the author Gay Hendricks talks about in his book, The Big Leap. Those 20% of things are where we should be focusing our energies, and the rest of those things, the other 80% are those things that we need to be pushing way down on our to-do list or else delegating out or passing on to somebody else.
So it is worth getting really clear then on what your strengths and your zone of genius is. What are those things that you seem to have a natural skill or talent for and equally really enjoy? And I think that’s really key that you really do think about those things that you excel at, but that you also enjoy, not just one or the other. The reason being, if we put most of our energy into that, we’re probably gonna find more success in that area. For me, my strength is in writing. It is not in cover design at all. It is not in the editing, though I wish it was, but it is just not. So, a better use of my time is actually spent, particularly in this stage of my career, on writing my books. Time would be completely wasted on me, fumbling around at this point learning how to create good covers, and they probably wouldn’t be as impactful as they need to be to actually sell my books. So with my values at the forefront and my why at the forefront of wanting to eventually create a self-sustaining author career for myself, it makes sense then that I spend the majority of my time writing, writing my books. Getting those words down on paper. That is not to say that that is where I tend to spend the majority of my time, but it is where I know I should be spending the majority of my time.
For you, it might be something different. Maybe you’re at the stage of your career where you have lots of books and you are actually finding that you’ve got a real passion and talent for making it big on TikTok or social media, and so that marketing aspect or promotional aspect of getting your books in front of or into the hands of other readers is where you excel. Maybe that’s your passion too, beyond even the writing, and so it makes sense then that you spend your energy and time doing that. If, however, you’ve played around with the Tik Tok and social media and everything, and you’re finding you’re getting no traction, but you’re doing it because somebody said that that’s what you need to do to be successful, and you’re not enjoying it, then you need to drop that thing. Like, you do. Whether you pass it on to somebody else whose genius zone it actually lies in, who’s got the talent and the passion and the energy to put into it, or you just drop it completely. There is no one way to a successful author career. And one of the things that I hope with this podcast is that by bringing different guests onto this show, that is one of the points that really strongly come across. There is no one way to success. What works for one person will not necessarily work to the next. What will work for you is working within your zone of genius.
So I think once you’ve got clear on those few actions where you can actually succeed that align with your why, that align with your values, then one of the ways to help with any overwhelm is to get really clear each day on thinking about the one thing that’ll help you move the needle forward closer to your goals. This is a question that I ask myself every day, and when I answer sincerely, I tend to finish the day feeling a sense of accomplishment and feeling better about myself when my head hits that pillow.
So that question of what do I need today to move the needle forward? Is one of the most powerful questions that I have found for myself. Sometimes I’ll reword it into something like, okay, what one thing could I do today that will make me feel a sense of accomplishment? What one thing that if I did today would make me feel like I’m moving closer to my goals?
I am the queen of to-do lists. I have day planners and to-do lists with every single thing I would like to achieve, and it has got everything because I’m one of these multi passionate people that quite frankly wants to do everything when it comes to my books and my writing and my podcast. But I’m also very, very aware that many of those things have been on my to-do list now for years, and I’m probably not going to get to them anytime soon, if ever. And so sometimes we need to be a little bit brutal with ourselves and just like in editing a book where, you know, there’s that Stephen King quote of you need to kill your darlings or murder your darlings. I think we sometimes need to do that with our to-do list too. I know for myself, there are things on there that I just don’t think I’m going to get to. I have always wanted to play around with the whole TikTok thing and throw my books up there. But I obviously haven’t wanted it enough because I’ve been talking about it and thinking about it for an incredibly long time and haven’t made any, any steps towards actually doing that. And to be honest, it’s really not something that aligns with my goals and my values. It’s not something that right off the bat, I think would bring me a lot of joy. I think it would actually just bring me more time stress, and a little bit more anxiety and things like that. But of course, just like many of you who are listening to this, I do get caught in the trap of, oh, I need to do what everyone else is doing. And everyone says that this is the way to make money on your books. And everyone says, this is what you need to do. And I fall into that trap without thinking, yes, but is it what I need to do? My intuition says, no, no, it’s actually not, it’s not in alignment for me. And so I do think it’s important to go through that long list of things that you’re probably harboring somewhere of all the things that you feel you should do, and you need to murder some of those darlings, and you just need to drop them completely. Because there is something to be said about alleviating overwhelm by actually just getting rid of things on your to-do list. We carry so many things often with us in the back of our minds that add to that feeling of overwhelm and stress and anxiety, all those things that we feel like we should be doing. So any opportunity to clear out and declutter that list is going to make you feel so much better.
So again, getting clear on just those one or two things that’ll actually move the needle forward, whether it’s on a day-to-day basis or whether you are looking at quarterly goals or yearly goals or whatever works for you. But I think it’s really, really crucial that we cull our list of to-dos, that we get really clear on just those couple of things that are really going to help us get closer to what we are trying to achieve and to our why.
Now, one of the things that I have noticed that I am very, very guilty of, and maybe you are too, is that when we get into that horrible feeling of overwhelm, we complain a lot. Okay, may, maybe you’re not like this, but I am, all honesty, I find myself doing this a lot where I’m just complaining and complaining and complaining because there’s so much to do and there’s not enough time, and everybody wants something from me, and I wish everyone would leave me alone, and I’m so overwhelmed. I find myself offloading all that stuff to family and friends, far too often. And this is coming from me who loves the whole concept of mindset and manifestation, and knows very, very well how our thoughts and beliefs and the things we say create our reality. Because of course, our words, our feelings, our actions attract more of the same, hence the law of attraction, right? So when we are complaining about these things, is there any wonder that life’s not getting any better? When we are complaining to people that, gosh, we feel so burned out or overwhelmed, or there’s just too much to do on our to-do list, why then do we find ourselves surprised when all of a sudden we open up our emails and there are several more emails from people demanding more of our time or needing us to do these extra things and just adding to that horrible sense of it all being far too much.
And this happens, and I catch myself with that all the time. And so, here it is a very simple but equally challenging key to overcoming overwhelm is to stop the complaining. Yikes. I know it can be really tricky, primarily because complaining becomes a bit of a habit sometimes. If you look around, you might even find that you have particular people in your life that your entire relationship is really just based on that kind of negativity of complaining or bitching about certain things. And yeah, that’s not a cool way to be and it’s a little bit confronting when you recognize that in some of your relationships as well. So we need to drop the complaining, my friends. It is not gonna do us any good complaining over and over about how overwhelmed or overworked or whatnot we are.
So how do we change that? Of course, there’s affirmations and mantras are a fantastic way of rebuilding new habits. If we can come up with a new mantra that we can use, instead of saying that we’re overwhelmed or, or burned out or there’s too much to do, and if we repeat those positive affirmations on a regular basis, that’s gonna help us actually change our mindset and create a new habit, and we’ll find that we can actually handle life just a little bit better.
Now, one of the really interesting things that I’ve come across is that when we want to break a bad habit, so many of us use affirmations like I am. I am no longer overwhelmed, or I am at peace, and all of that. There’s this whole idea that we need to keep things really, really positive when we say our affirmations, and I still do subscribe to that. However, there is also scientific research out there that states that if we create a mantra for ourselves that starts with the words, I don’t, then it is eight times more likely that that self-talk is gonna be effective for us, particularly when it comes to breaking a habit.
So if we are in the habit of saying, I’m overwhelmed, I’m feeling so overwhelmed. Then if we change that to a mantra of saying regularly, I don’t do overwhelm, gradually we’re actually more likely going to create a long lasting, effective habit of believing that we actually don’t do overwhelm.
This has really taken me by surprise because I am so used to putting all my affirmations in the real positive, like I am content and happy and feeling free, whereas I don’t, has always had a little bit of a negative connotation to me. But an example that I found was somebody who might be on a diet and being offered a big slab of chocolate cake. Now think about this. When you say, oh, no, no, no, I can’t, I can’t, I’m on a diet. There’s a residual feeling there that you are not in control. You don’t have power. Something outside of yourself still has the power and, and you’re feeling that loss of no chocolate cake by saying, oh, I can’t, almost like you’re saying, oh, I wish I could, but I can’t. That doesn’t seem to have the same impact as somebody who might say, oh, I don’t, I don’t eat chocolate cake. Now, right away, there’s a different feeling there. There’s a feeling of being in control, of being in charge of making that decision for yourself. So imagine again, if we change that to overwhelm. Oh, I can’t do overwhelm. Well, I’m sorry. I still feel overwhelmed, whether I can or can’t do it, and that’s how I’m still feeling. Versus I don’t do overwhelm now.
It’s taken me a while and I’ll admit that I’ve been using this mantra for quite a while on and off, because sometimes I forget. And the first few times it felt really unusual to sit with, to say, I don’t do overwhelm. Part of me would argue back, what do you mean you don’t do overwhelm? Of course you do. Look at you, you are, you’re there right now. But then the more that I said it, the more I actually was able to cut myself off during those moments where I was really about to spiral into a bit of a breakdown over feeling like everything was just too much. And so whenever I found myself in that kind of spiral of beginning to feel overwhelmed, that is when I would say to myself, Nope. Stop. I don’t do overwhelm. And something about that mantra gave me a little bit of a breathing space to actually believe, Hey, yeah, no, this is, overwhelm is a choice and I’m choosing not to do it. I’m in control here. I’m not gonna let my feelings control me. I’m in control.
So that’s a little challenge that I have for you if you’re feeling a bit of overwhelm, try that mantra. Try stating that in that way with I don’t, or any other habit that you’re looking at breaking. Start it with, I don’t. I know it’s contradictory to what we are used to when we deal with affirmations, but there is something about it that seems to work. And like I said, I’ll see if I can even link the article into the show notes if I remember here, but it is scientifically proven that mantras starting with I don’t, can make our self-talk eight times more effective, particularly in breaking habits. So there we are. Something to keep in mind there.
Now here’s a couple of other just small titbits of advice that have also worked when I found myself in that horrible feeling of too much going on and too many expectations on myself. One of those is to actually just journal or to just meditate or get quiet within myself and just actually ask that quiet part of myself, how can I reduce my stress and overwhelm right now? And just some free writing on that in a journal or something can actually be a little bit eye-opening, because there might just be small things that we need to change that would make us feel so much less stressed. It goes back again to Pareto’s Law, but this time in the guise of 80% of where our stress lies is usually due to only 20% of things.
So it might just be that there is one small aspect that is really creating majority of your stress in your author life for you. Maybe it is opening your inbox and checking your emails. And if that’s the case, if that’s something that’s sitting in the background overwhelming you, how hard would it be then just to look for somebody, a VA or somebody who could actually be in charge of your inbox, take that off your plate completely? And how much better would you feel for that? Sometimes we overlook some of the most simplest things that are actually causing the majority of our stress.
The other thing is, I think it is so important, and one of the most enjoyable ways, I guess, of combating overwhelm, is to go back to finding your joy. What this looks like for everybody is going to be different. But as our feelings are a choice, so is whether we approach something that we are doing with joy or without joy. So when we’re coming at something, maybe it’s a task that we don’t particularly like doing, but we are approaching it with this light-heartedness and this feeling of joy, then we do tend to banish those horrible feelings of burnout and exhaustion and anxiety and overwhelm, that all tend to go hand in hand. When we approach a task with a, Ugh, I have to do this. This sucks. I hate doing this. Obviously our energies are not gonna be in a very good place, and it’s probably gonna take us longer to do the task and it’s probably gonna leave us with this really horrible residue that might permeate into other aspects of our life, like our relationships and things too.
I dunno about you, but I know that with me, when I’m having to do tasks that I don’t really enjoy and I’m in a really bad mood about it, I tend to get more irritable and snappy and that towards my loved ones as well. Not because it’s their fault or anything, but just it seems to be the way that my frustration comes out with that.
So an example I can use of this is I hate cooking, like I really do. I really don’t like cooking at all. But as is fair, my husband and I take turns cooking evening meals. The days where I’m like really resistant to it and I’m getting resentful because I’d rather be doing other things and I hate doing it, the meal takes forever to cook for starters, and it’s such a horrible experience made worse by my own emotions and feelings behind it. I have learned that when it’s my turn to cook the evening meals, I am better if I put on something that uplifts me in the background. So for me, that’s either some music that I can kind of boogie to while I’m cooking dinner, or a great podcast, or sometimes even a TV show on the TV that I can kind of see from where I’m cooking as well.
But when I’ve got something taking my mind off my negative feelings towards doing that particular chore, then I actually don’t hate the experience. And even better, cooking a meal whilst actually enjoying the experience because of something else going on in the background, I guess, or music or something, it puts me in a better mood and it means that after dinner’s cooked and we’ve sat down and we’ve eaten, I actually have more energy to go do things that I do enjoy, like writing or book stuff. It actually puts me in a better head space and it makes me a nicer person.
So it is sometimes also worth having a go-to list of things that you can do when you are in this situation where you actually have to do something that you don’t really enjoy, but that can quickly turn your energy around. And it could be something like just having some really uplifting music in the background, or it could be the promise of some kind of treat or something that you enjoy after you’ve finished the task, but something where you can actually keep your energy high. Because overwhelm, at its very core, it’s just an emotion, a feeling, and a thought that we have. It’s not actually real. It can feel really real in the moment, and it can have real consequences on the way that we interact with other people and the way that we come towards doing an activity. But it is something that we actually have full control over changing. Overwhelm is a choice, and what we don’t change or try to change, we continue to choose.
And if you’re at that point where everything just feels like it’s leading to a bad case of burnout, then it is more important than ever to find those things that light you up and to bring you joy, and to put aside those things that are overwhelming you. And I know that’s hard because overwhelm generally comes when we feel like we’ve got pressing deadlines and everybody needs everything from us right now. But that is really the key time that we need to drop things, take a moment and reset. Whether that’s going on some kind of artist date like Julia Cameron advocates for, where we are refilling that creative well, or whether it’s doing some meditation or something completely different that brings us joy. Spending time with family or a favorite friend or going for a walk outside, whatever that is.
When we’re doing something that we enjoy, we feel so much more expansive and we can actually handle stress a lot easier and better, and it builds our resilience. When we’re pushing aside the things that we really love, and that we really enjoy because we’re doing all the menial tasks that are the opposite and, and do not sit in our zone of genius and do not align with our values, then we are going to feel more stress, more anxiety. Our body’s gonna react in ways of sleeplessness, or being more drawn to eating poorly, or exercising less, or just being generally unhealthy. So it is crucial in every way that we really do allow ourselves time to enjoy our lives, time to enjoy things.
One final point that I want to make too, is that there are gonna be times in our life where we are in the trenches and life is just hard and things have happened that are out of our control and it just sucks. Whether it’s because of an illness, or somebody close to us passes away, or there’s some kind of big emergency or something just really shitty happens, that is when we are in the trenches. And that is where we need to allow ourselves the space and the grace to actually just be in the trenches. That is when we need to allow ourselves to actually drop the heaviness of all the things that we should be doing in the background, to let go of those to-do lists, to let go of the, even the question of what’s one thing I can do today on my business that will help move the needle forward.
Some days, the one thing we need to do is actually nothing. Some days when we’re in the trenches and life’s gone a little bit sideways, the best thing for us to do is to actually just let it go for a moment, to refocus our energies and our priorities on whatever it is that is at hand right at that time, or that emergency at hand, and give ourselves permission to reprioritize, to let go, and to not feel guilty about it either. Right? So I think that’s really important to keep in mind too.
So there we have it. There’s my little pep talk for endeavoring to overcome a little bit of the overwhelm that we’re sometimes faced with. Like I mentioned at the beginning of this, this is a near constant practice for myself. It is not something that you do once and then you’re cured forever and never have to experience that overwhelm and burnout.
But I think it’s important that we really do put the work in, even if we’re feeling pretty on top of things right now. But we do put that work into being clear on our why, being clear on our values, being clear on what our top priority is, not trying to do all the things. That doesn’t happen. We are not multitaskers. We can’t be. Not all things are important. Regardless of what your boss says or regardless of what experts in the indie author field say, everything is not equally important. It just isn’t.
And experiment with the mantra, I don’t do overwhelm. Find ways to use, I don’t, in other areas of your life too. It might surprise you. And that’s the cool thing about this, that even though this episode was created to help overcome overwhelm as an indie author, all these tips can be used in all areas of your life. They can be used with a day job, they can be used with things going on in your home life and and that as well. So keep them all in mind.
I hope this has helped in some way inspire you to maneuver yourself out of that horrible feeling of overwhelm. Or if you feel like you are heading towards burnout, I hope this is maybe the intervention that you needed, and that reminder that you are in control. That these feelings, these emotions, this heaviness, although it feels out of our control and it often comes across that way, we always have a choice in these things and how we react. And we always need to be reminded that what we don’t endeavor to change we are choosing, we are allowing.
And just like I said, our thoughts, our feelings, our beliefs, attract more of the same to us. So if we can get out of that negative self-talk of telling ourselves that we’re overwhelmed, of telling ourselves that everything’s too much, then we are gonna find that we are creating for ourselves a much more beautiful, pleasant, enjoyable life in alignment with our goals. Because if we don’t get on top of these feelings of having to do it all, and again, we don’t have to do it all, we just need to do those few things that are actually in alignment for us, but if we don’t move away from that, we are just gonna be spinning our wheels and wondering why we’re not getting further ahead with things. And honestly, my friends, life is simply too short to live that way. You are meant to enjoy your life, to live in your genius zone, doing those things that you are innately good at and here on this earth to share with other people. So don’t let those feelings of overwhelm and trying to do it all, or not doing enough, kill your creative spirit because you are here for more than that. You really are.
Takeaways from today’s show:
1. When overwhelm hits go back to your why and your values.
2. Align your to-do list with your values, this determines what is actually important because not everything is important.
3. Multitasking is a fallacy. It might allow you to be good at a few things, but never great.
4. Pareto’s Law reminds us that less can be more. 20% of what we do gives us 80% of our results. And 80% of our stress is usually caused by only 20% of the things.
5. Focus on spending the majority of your time and energy on things within your zone of genius. Get rid of, or delegate, as much of everything else as possible.
6. There is no one path to being a successful author.
7. Declutter your to-do list. Be honest with yourself and get rid of anything that’s sat there for a long time and that you’re likely, never going to do.
8. Every day, ask yourself: what’s the one thing I can do today that will move the needle forward closer to my goals?
9. Quit complaining. Embrace the power of the mantra, “I don’t do overwhelm,” to redirect and take control of your thoughts and mindset.
10. Go back to what brings you joy to elevate your mood and build your resilience.
And 11. When you find yourself in the trenches, allow yourself the space and grace to just be. Sometimes the thing you most need to do is nothing.
So I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s episode. I have a fabulous guest on next week, speaking all about money blocks and manifestation for us authors. And let’s just say that I thought I knew a lot about manifestation, but boy, did I learn so much from this guest interview?
So make sure you subscribe to the show wherever you’re listening to it. And if you’re enjoying Alchemy for Authors I also appreciate ratings and reviews, or you even just sharing it with a friend. If you’d like to support the show further, I’m always grateful if you’d like to buy me a coffee at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/jobuer.
Otherwise I am wishing you a wonderful writing week ahead, my friend. And remember you don’t do overwhelm.
Until next time. Bye.