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3 Small Steps to Conquer Career Change Overwhelm


Career change can feel overwhelming. There is so much to consider and every decision feels important. It can lead to self-doubt, procrastination, and worry. This can keep you stuck and feeling paralyzed. What if you had some tools to help you deal with the feelings that can trip up your progress?

Let’s talk about three approaches that you can put into practice right away.

Change is a normal part of the human experience but that doesn’t make it any easier. The resulting stress can make it difficult to focus and make decisions. This can make moving forward challenging. One of the biggest obstacles is dealing with too much information. Here are three ways to use your mind and your body to reduce overwhelm and help you make progress on your goals.

1. Reduce Information

When you are feeling stressed out your brain is focused on only one thing. Survival. This means you have less ability to process extra information. A simple yet effective step to reduce overwhelm is to lower the amount of information you are exposed to.

Think back to the last time you experienced overwhelm. It could have been that things didn’t go according to what you had planned. How did this affect you? Did you have trouble deciding what to do first? Was your mind racing? Did you find it hard to focus so that you jumped from one task to the next without finishing anything? Since stress impacts how we process information, we need to notice when this is happening so we can get a handle on it.

How we react during stressful situations will be different for everyone. Pay attention to how this shows up for you. When it does, you can ask yourself this: What can I do to reduce the amount of information coming at me in this moment? Be intentional about how you choose to act in times of overwhelm. Putting some “go to” steps in place that you can automatically revert to during these times can be immensely helpful.

Examples might be:

  • Being intentional about how you allocate your time and planning it in advance

  • Using a timer to limit the time you spend on the Internet doing research

  • Performing activities in a different order and varying tasks

Preventing yourself from becoming inundated by input is a great first step.

2. Schedule Tasks

Often our first line of action when we feel overwhelmed is to write out a long laundry list of tasks to be completed. This can work well for some but what if it’s not enough? You might find that approaches that usually work well for you to keep yourself on track and organized fall apart during times of change.

If the tools you normally use aren’t working and you feel overwhelmed and stuck, try taking your to do list a step further. Sometimes a simple list can feel like an open loop in our mind. We also often overestimate the number of things we can get done in a day so can start feeling de-motivated when it seems like our list just keeps getting longer.

A way around this is to still make the list. Do a brainstorming session emptying your brain of all the tasks it is storing up that need to be completed. Get all of this stuff out of your head. Next, get these tasks into some sort of calendar. Get all of the actions scheduled. Prioritize your list, estimate how long each action will take and block out time each day to complete a few items. Break tasks down into manageable chunks and anticipate obstacles. For example, if you need to work on your resume but your computer is broken, you’ll need to add computer repair steps into the equation.

Here’s the fun part. Once you have your tasks scheduled, rip up your to-do list. This part feels really good.

3. Interrupt Your Physiology

The third simple step is to pay attention to your physiological responses. If your focus feels scattered due to stress and overwhelm, pay attention to the sensations in your body. Notice things like muscles tensing up, your face feeling hot, nervous movements such as your leg bouncing etc. It will be different for everyone. Noticing is the first step. Next, by intentionally interrupting some of your automatic physical responses, you can give yourself a reset.

How can you do this?

You can try taking a few deep breaths, do a short meditation or visualization, or complete a few quick jumping jacks or stretches. Even these short breaks can be effective at interrupting patterns of negative thinking and your body’s natural stress response to them. This allows the body to rebalance. Give it a shot and see what happens!

Choose something that works and incorporate it regularly throughout your day. At first, you may need to set a timer to remind yourself to do this until it becomes a habit. Once you do, you may see wonderful effects of this recalibration technique.

It’s normal to experience feelings of increased stress and overwhelm during periods of change but it doesn’t mean you can’t make a successful career change. You might just need to identify some new approaches. Starting with these three simple steps can be an effective way to bring your body and mind into better balance to work with you rather than against you.

Starting with small changes can help you deal with career challenges as they arise, allowing you to make progress towards your career goals. Keep at it!

Ready for some help with your career change? Learn more about working with me here.

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