Many entrepreneurs struggle with overwhelm daily. But do you ever take the time to analyze what overwhelm is, and what is causing it?
The definition of overwhelm has come to mean several things:
- to upset or overthrow, as in ‘The tornado overwhelmed many mobile homes.’
- to cover over completely, or submerge, as in ‘The city was overwhelmed by the flooding caused by the hurricane.’
- to overcome by superior force or numbers, as in ‘The city was overwhelmed by the invading army.‘
- and to overpower in thought or feeling as with grief or terror, as in ‘A sense of inadequacy overwhelmed me, and I am overwhelmed with guilt.’
However, According to Miriam-Webster using the word ‘overwhelm‘ is a bit redundant. The word, which originally meant “to overturn or upset,” was formed in Middle English by combining the prefix ‘over’ with the verb ‘whelmen’, which also meant ‘to overturn.’ ‘Whelmen‘ has been shortened to “whelm,” a synonym for overwhelm. Yet, over the last 600 years, ‘overwhelm‘ is largely preferred. Perhaps because of its emphatic redundancy, ‘overwhelm‘ makes it seem like the more fitting word for describing the experience of being overcome by powerful forces or feelings.
Non-entrepreneurs don’t really understand how challenging it is to get a business up and running and working for you instead of against you. And overwhelm sets in often as you can get lost in a rabbit hole of “to do’s”, and yet do not feel like you’re accomplishing very much at all! With these pressures, it’s a wonder we even stay in the game. But, entrepreneurs are hard workers when we believe something is possible. In fact, we’ll put up with multiple phases and states of overwhelm during any given day! Just for that reason alone, you possess ‘superpowers’. But sometimes those amazing strengths can stand in the way of seeing the forest through the trees. Sometimes because you are so talented, capable and successful you don’t value the time-leaps that working with expertise and support provides. And as a result, you stick with what you know, head down, and trade your time out while trying to do it all yourself! Unfortunately, when you lift your head, overwhelm is right there, staring you in the face.
Don’t get me wrong… you certainly know how to work hard. But often, working HARDER is NOT why you launched a business. Perhaps you had a dream lifestyle in mind. And maybe those dreams are compromised right now. And because you’re juggling it all in your business and trying to squeeze in your life, maybe your dream business feels more like a Neuse around your neck, tied to a huge boulder that is dragging you to the bottom of the swamp… If so – keep on reading!
So, now that you know about the origin of the word overwhelm, let’s explore which of these 10 symptoms of entrepreneur overwhelm resonate with you?
The 10 Symptoms of Entrepreneur Overwhelm
You’re stressed out doing it all, and it’s not your fault.
Juggling a business and life these days is really tough. It seems you can never ‘close your business’ because you’re always thinking, doing, marketing, selling and juggling all the parts and pieces of your never-ending to-do list. Keeping it up for long periods of time can truly cause overwhelm. Maintaining an overwhelmed state of being over an extended period of time interrupts sleep. It also inflates your stress hormones, which are the cause of most emotional, relationship, and physical ailments of today!
Your business (and the work you do) is affecting your lifestyle… negatively.
You want your business to fit into your lifestyle BUT… you’re doing much more work than play these days. In the early days, everything is rosy, but you quickly found out that shortly after launching, your business suddenly took over. Overwhelm is setting in as your business is dominating your time, priorities and your downtime. This has affected your private time, kept you up at night, minimized the time for fun or romance, and it is on its way toward negatively impacting your well-being. And if you don’t get it under control and re-design it, your business could win, and kill you in the process!
You’re working both weekdays and weekends.
You’d LOVE to work short workdays and take weekends off. But ever since you launched this business, and soon you found yourself saying yes to client work during all your spare time. AND, what about the time it takes to send a newsletter, publish your blog posts, and create your back-end systems! I hate to break it to you, but you’re overwhelmed already! To get out from under the work-a-holic entrepreneur syndrome, you need to put your maintenance and nurture systems on auto-pilot. Then you need to line up support so you can have more flexibility to manage your time and work when you want to. The truth is, your dream is to work from the beach, on an airplane (on the way to the beach) or some days, even from your home office… when it suits you! If you’re working both weekdays and weekends with no time off, you’re already overwhelmed.
You are not marketing your business enough, if at all.
Let’s face it, we all have blind spots about how to market a business. And the fact is when you’re dealing with yourself in a constant state of overwhelm, you’re struggling. Most business owners don’t know what they don’t know about marketing, branding, sales and all the techy stuff. But it’s okay because it’s not your fault. Unless you have a business degree, it’s likely you’re overwhelmed because no one ever taught you any of this stuff! Many entrepreneurs design their marketing around their solutions. This is great but it doesn’t often resonate with potential clients. Instead of creating offers around your particular specialties, training, education and expertise, you need to begin to speak to your ideal client’s pain points.
Overwhelm is stopping you from doing the essential marketing work, so not much is getting done and you may be backsliding if you’re honest about it. To escape overwhelm and become truly successful in business, most ‘expert entrepreneurs’ simply need to learn the WHAT and HOW to successfully market their services. Then follow the proven marketing formula, and take the steps toward completing your marketing tasks.
You are not making enough money and you feel stuck.
You REALLY want (and need) to make decent, reliable income from your services. But no matter what you do, you’re feeling stuck. Although you may not be the sole provider at home, you want a real return for the time you spend working. If you don’t start turning more income, then staying in business is not really worth all this effort. In order to escape overwhelm and earn more, you’ll need to create marketing strategies that work while you sleep. Systematizing your processes and documenting your procedures can help you reclaim your time spent on follow-up tasks. And, once documented, you’re half-way there to delegating so some other task master to get the work done for you!
You feel isolated and unsupported.
When you own a business, you step into a whole new reality and those in the Muggle World just can’t relate. They just aren’t wired-up the same as us. It’s not their fault, but they don’t share your same desire or drive for success in business. Of course they aren’t bad people, but it does compromise what they can offer you in the way of guidance and support when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Therefore, getting valuable and helpful advice may be difficult from your closest family and friends (unless they are entrepreneurs too). To avoid overwhelm and isolation, you really would love a group of like-minded individuals with whom you could caucus. You need a posse to hold you up, set you straight, motivate you and keep you on task to implement what you need to accomplish ongoingly!
Your life circumstances that require flexibility are taking over.
You launched your business for the freedom from working for ‘the man’ (or ‘woman’)… But you may be juggling some personal hardships. Today, we must care for our children, as well as many of us have aging parents who require our time, energy and support. Add to that any extenuating personal circumstances that require you to respond to emergencies. As family and daily priorities shift, you could be juggling overwhelm all the time. You may want to squeeze work in between your children’s’ activities, and full-time visits to your aging parents. And, depending on your situation, you may only have part time hours to work. If your life is taking over your business, you may be overwhelmed and need support!
You’re overscheduled and time-starved with limited time to network.
Small business owners need to network. But many groups, clubs, and associations meet at inconvenient times. They can also require significant financial investments that can stretch your resources. If you’re overscheduled and attending too many events, it can limit the time you spend with clients or creating products. If you’re feeling time-starved and overscheduled, you’re likely on the slippery slope of overwhelm and on your way to burnout. Getting direction, guidance, support and accountability can be the keys to feeling back on track and regaining your time.
Your communities, associations, and affiliations aren’t delivering.
Many entrepreneurs join social, civic or religious associations hoping to connect with other people like them. However, these groups are convened for different reasons, and may not be a fit. Unless you’re engaged in business-building communities, others don’t really offer support for running your business. In fact, many communities actually prohibit your ability to share your business or gain clients. If you’re looking to these communities for leads and support, it’s not going to work. You need a community of like-minded business owners who can share their ideas and serve as a sounding board for yours. A group mastermind program can help you get traction and create better results!
You’re spending too much time on social media.
Are you a Facebook junkie? Does your Instagram account override your logical thinking? Perhaps you’re addicted to Snapchat? Regardless, if you’re spending extraordinary amounts of time on social media, or lingering in social groups, this may be the source of your overwhelm. Social platforms are great in many ways, and they may take a ton of your time leaving you with no results. If you still have unanswered questions, unfulfilled goals, feel stressed, and overly responsible for others, maybe it’s time to step back from those social groups and invest in what you need for you. Without regularity and structure focused on results in your business and relationships with REAL people, it will be hard to escape feelings of overwhelm.
In conclusion, any of these symptoms can be causing your feelings of overwhelm as an entrepreneur. And, if you’re struggling with more than a couple symptoms, your sense of overwhelm may be too much to bear. To help you with entrepreneur overwhelm, I’ve developed a great monthly mastermind program. And the best part about it is that you can participate for an entire year for less than what it costs to get a mani-pedi! We meet the first Friday’s of every month for training, masterminding, accountability and support. Click the link below to learn more and if any of these 10 symptoms above resonate with you, join us!