Usually, it isn’t until I start explaining what I “do” when I meet someone new, that I start to feel overwhelmed. As I’m talking about all the professional endeavors and volunteer service I’m working on, even I start to wonder just how much one person can do. I used to start my professional bio with the phrase, “Jill D. Miller is a World Champion Plate Spinner.” I’m amused by the visual description of trying to keep all my plates, or responsibilities, spinning on the top of long, slender poles, as I deftly prance from one “plate” to another, giving it just the right twist to stay aloft. I quit using it when people expected me to really spin plates at speaking engagements.
The Real World Champion Plate Spinner
Fortunately, I love what I’m involved in, or I wouldn’t do it. About 10 years ago, I adopted a “Joy Suck Rule.” I decided if something is sucking the joy out of my life, it has to go! This hasn’t always been easy, and I don’t make the decision lightly. I explore lots of angles before I make the decision to cut someone or something out of my life. But in the end, I always know the right thing to do if I’m really listening to myself. I also know I start new projects, to avoid listening to myself. It’s great excuse to be “too busy” to deal with whatever it is I’m trying to avoid. Or at least that’s the story I’m telling myself.
Around the time of the Women’s Fair, I hit the wall. The overwhelm caught up with me and I had a full-blown-overwhelm-panic-attack-melt-down. Now, I’m not telling you this to elicit sympathy. I’m writing about this for a few reasons. Someone recently told me, that I seem so happy all the time, she can’t imagine me ever shedding a tear. WRONG! I’m human, just like everyone else. We all struggle with our stuff and need to ‘fess up to that. One of the reasons I started the Finishing School, is so we can get better together. Writing about things, especially for my Modern Women, helps me process what I’m thinking, so I can share it with you. It is also my hope, that what I am writing will help others going through the same thing as me, and give you something to think about.
Ominous warning at the top of roller coaster hill
On a particularly bad day, smack dab in the middle of OVERWHELM and on the verge of exhaustion, I opened up to a good friend and told her how I was feeling. We brainstormed on ideas, but the best advice she gave me was that I needed to do something about what I was feeling, because she’d noticed that I had been ascending the big overwhelm roller coaster hill - for a while. I went home that night and did a lot of soul searching and started to put together a plan. Now that I’m actually taking action, rather than feeling powerlessly overwhelmed, I’m feeling more relaxed and am better able to hear my inner wisdom that always leads me in the right direction. Best of all, things seem to be magically falling into place since I stopped trying to force things into place. Here’s what I’ve learned:
Ask for help
I drilled down to figure out that exhaustion was causing me the most problems. I know working long days without any time off isn’t good, but sometimes it seems like that’s what it takes to get everything I want to do, done. I don’t like it when the plates crash to the ground. I also know that keeping up that kind of pace will eventually take a toll on my mind and body. So, I put together an “Operation: Get Help!” plan. I made a list of specific solutions to explore, people to talk to for advice, and things I could do right away to make my life easier. I asked myself some hard questions about the stories I’ve been telling myself and the false benefits they’re giving me, so I can change my narrative and stop what isn’t serving me. (Thank you Jen Sincero!)
Get some advice
At the recent WeKan conference I learned, “You are only limited by what you know. Ask those around you what they know.” From the Know Your Worth conference I discovered the importance of having a group of advisers I trust, that will tell me the truth, no matter what and I put together my Worthy Woman’s Club, to help me see things more clearly. These busy women I admire recently met at my office to give me advice. I was completely honest and open about what I’m doing and thinking, and while it was super vulnerable and uncomfortable for me, I learned a lot. One of the best pieces of advice they gave me was, “slow your roll.” I am a harsh taskmaster, when it comes to the deadlines and goals I set for myself, and they assured me I won’t let anyone down if it takes me longer to achieve them. I had other extremely impactful conversations one-on-one with other advisors that helped me make easy decisions over things I’d been grappling over, gave me greater insights into who I am and what I’m doing, and help reinforce that I am on the right path.
Get some help
Asking for help is something I’m working on, and it feels like such a vulnerable thing to do. Still, I realize I can’t do everything myself, so I put together a list of things I can use help with and have started asking for volunteers. Some of the asks have been awesome, others have not. Of course, the ones that didn’t pan out so well were unexpected, and stung a little. One of the downsides of being transparent, is it can bite you in the butt sometimes. Still, I’d rather know those truths sooner than later, about who can be trusted and will come through when needed.
I found this interesting:
“Until we can receive with an open heart, we're never really giving with an open heart. When we attach judgment to receiving help, we knowingly or unknowingly attach judgment to giving help.” ― Brené Brown
Read about it
I love to read, and occasionally I’ll slip a personal growth book in the mix. I’ve had so many Modern Women tell me they’re reading “You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life” by Jen Sincero that I had to pick it up. I highly recommend this book! I like to read about what other people have learned in their struggle for greatness, and this book does not disappoint! It’s so good, I’ve gone back and read some chapters several times. It has helped me a lot.
I’m so excited we’ll have the opportunity to meet her soon! She’s coming to Watermark Books & Café on Monday, April 16 at 6 PM for a book readying and signing of her book “You are a Badass at Making Money,” and the Finishing School for Modern Women is partnering on the event! (See more details below.) I’m thrilled that I get to introduce Jen. I’ll have to try hard not to seriously Fan Woman gush and geek out over her.
Have a plan
Putting together my plan of action was one of the best things I did. Maybe it’s just the overachiever in me, but I always feel better when I face the situation head-on and decide what to do about it. It makes me feel less helpless when I realize I can change what I don’t like and am fully in charge of my life and happiness. I may not do everything on the list and it may not work out as I’d intended, but just writing it out gives me direction and starts the energy flowing again.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned through this, is the importance of the word I set as my theme for 2018: Surrender. This word doesn’t mean “give up” to me. I’m far too stubborn for that! Rather, for me it means letting go of control; releasing my death-like grip on agendas; having faith that help will come when I need it; letting go of fear. One of my dear Worthy Women gave me a new mantra for this, “There is no faith where there is fear.” I’ve been meditating on this idea and asking for peace and it is working. It’s such a relief to let go of the things I can’t control. And since I really can’t control anything besides my own reactions, I can choose to react with faith. It’s interesting how much clearer things have become.
Spoiler alert: this is a recurring theme in Jen’s Badass book. My favorite quote is from Chapter 12. “Love yourself and the bluebirds of happiness will be your permanent backup singers.”
Always great advice!
Jen Sincero Book Reading and Signing
We are partnering with Watermark Books on this fabulous event! You are going to love this Modern Woman!
Monday, April 16 at 6 PM
Watermark Books & Cafe
4701 E. Douglas
The event is free, but seating is limited. Preorder a copy of the book to be sure to get in! Learn more here.