Cut a Clear Path Through Overwhelm

By Audrey Seymour

It’s rare these days for me to find someone who isn’t feeling overwhelmed with all the available options and demands on their time. If you’ve been feeling more and more this way, you’re not alone!

The sad thing is that many people give up trying to manage the precious resource of their time, and simply bounce from one external requirement to the next one, letting their life be demand-driven rather than purpose-directed.

Here are three key factors that might be keeping you overwhelmed rather than in the flow of your purpose.  To cut a clear path to your calling you’ll need to address all three of them. The first two are a matter of skillset and the third one is an element of your mindset:

  1. Lack of priorities
  2. Lack of boundary setting
  3. Lack of inner alignment to pursue your purposeful calling

If you don’t take the time to clarify what matters most to you, and specify the priorities and best practices that will keep your intentions in clear focus, how will you know the best way to spend the precious minutes of your day?  In the absence of that clarity, your subconscious instinctual drives to avoid pain and approach reward will run your life and keep you from fulfilling what you came here to do.

Then, even if you do have clear priorities, the art of lovingly saying “no” might not yet be easy for you. The real question to ask yourself here is: are you strong enough in your commitment to honor the truth of your path, even if it means disappointing or even angering others?

This can be particularly challenging with those close to you, who have gotten used to you taking care of things for them in certain ways. Ultimately the choice is up to you, but this could be an opportunity to get curious about whether it might serve others to have the opportunity to take on more responsibility.

Decades ago, due to severe joint injuries, I left my position as the software development manager and lead engineer for a multi-million dollar project. It was terrifying to do the unthinkable and let everyone down, yet, I was unwilling to undergo neck fusion surgery in order to not disappoint my team and company.

Then, a beautiful thing happened – I started mentoring a young man with great promise to take over my position, and it was the perfect opportunity for him.  I encouraged him to call me any time for advice, and it was gratifying to recognize that I had created a win-win situation for both of us. That was the transition that started my coaching and consulting career!

Once you’ve set your priorities and developed clear boundaries to protect those priorities, do you have the inner alignment it takes to listen to your inner compass and pursue your purpose?

One of the ways a lack of inner alignment shows up is the tendency to let yourself get distracted. Do you ever find yourself suddenly deciding it’s time to (organize your desk / call a friend / check your messages one more time) whenever you sit down to (write that business plan / start your next book / prepare your groundbreaking proposal)?

When I first started my business, I also worked part-time for my husband-at-the-time’s company. I was building a new website for him while designing my own. Much to my surprise, I found that I was spending countless hours tweaking his site while totally neglecting mine!

I realized that I couldn’t be trusted to just flow in the moment; I had to structure dedicated time each week to brainstorm my business and build that website. That became my touchstone, that non-negotiable regular time just for me and my new business.

If all of this focused attention doesn’t get you back on course, get curious about what other subconscious agendas might be driving your behavior. Here are a few examples:

  • Perhaps your tendency to check email and Facebook constantly means that you feel isolated and need to build more dedicated connection time into your day.
  • There may be a fearful part of you that worries about being rejected if you try to bring your authentic vision to your team or to the world. It may be time to negotiate with that part of you and see what risk management strategies are appropriate for such a new adventure.
  • Another part of you might be worried that if you gain significantly more power and influence, you might misuse it. In this case, you might make an agreement to always stay in touch with your heart and reflect on the outcomes of your initiatives.

Is there something you’ve ignored that you now recognize is important to you? If so, what do you need to give up in order to make room for it? You may need to say “no” to a commitment you’ve outgrown or even an identity that has become obsolete.

It’s important to be ruthlessly honest with yourself here. What sacrifices are you willing to make to make a difference in the world? If you can’t imagine giving up these other things, then you might want to re-examine how much you care about your vision.  There’s nothing wrong with changing your mind; what matters is knowing what you want and clearing the path to fulfill it.

And, expect to go off course on a regular basis — continually adapting is part of the dynamic flow of being alive. You are not a static object; you are a process in motion. Just keep coming back to awareness and create reminders plus other structures that allow you to find your way back to your inner compass in the midst of a chaotic world.

What keeps you from pursuing your purposeful path?