In this section I present just a few of the clients who have used the strategies in this book to end their sense of being overwhelmed. You will see that their overwhelm shifts by shifting themselves – their patterns of LAB and their beliefs – rather than by changing the outside world. I share their stories in the hope that you will see that no matter your situation, you, too, can end your overwhelm now. The tools that supported each client in their shift are in bold text. You can find interviews and more stories on our website: www.EndOverwhelmNow.com
Marcus was laid off from his job as a newspaper reporter 10 months before our first coaching call. He had started his job search enthusiastically, but as the months went on, he felt more irrelevant and ill-prepared for the changing dynamics of his industry. The newspaper business was continually contracting as more people read their news online. Technology was also changing the reporting side of the business and things were different from how Marcus had always done them. To his credit, Marcus pursued all the right avenues for jobs: scouring online job boards and resources, reconnecting with past colleagues, going to lots of networking events. Nothing was working. As the months wore on with no new job in sight, fewer and fewer leads, and the bills piling up, Marcus felt like he was staring at a big “Dead End” sign. Any action at all felt overwhelming because he had created such a disempowering pattern of beliefs and LAB. The more time he spent around other unemployed people, the worse he felt, since that sense of overwhelm was contagious.
Marcus was in a tough situation, no doubt about it. But the language he was using about the situation was completely disheartening and disempowering. When I had him say out loud what he was saying to himself, he was honest and told me that his internal dialog sounded like this: “There are no jobs in newspapers. And even if there were, nobody will ever hire me – I’m too old and I don’t have the relevant skills.” He focused and ruminated on all the negatives and on everything that wasn’t working. As his language and attention spiraled downward, he was less inclined to take action. And even when he was able to meet with someone or got a lead, he assumed it would be another dead-end; as a result, he didn’t demonstrate the skills, energy and passion that would make someone want to hire him or connect him to someone who would. The skill and passion he had demonstrated as a successful reporter was no longer visible.
Teaching Marcus to eavesdrop on himself so he could catch the self-defeating language was fun because the reporter in him enjoyed the technique. Although as a writer, he was a master with language, he found he needed a serious upgrade when it came to talking to himself. He had never noticed the use of absolutes in his self-talk, such as “nobody will ever hire me. I don’t have any relevant skills.” When Marcus heard himself say these overly dramatic – and negative — statements out loud, he actually laughed at himself. He was determined to write a new story – a story of success – and shifted his language to use words like opportunities, progress, and choosing a new destiny.
Although the language adjustment was critical to shift Marcus’s overwhelm, we also needed to change his attention, what he was focusing on, which was what he was missing. When he made a list of his strengths and accomplishments, he recognized that many of the skills and qualities he demonstrated as a reporter were a) still completely relevant despite the changes in the industry and b) quite transferrable to other industries. He discovered that his ability to ask questions, distill information, and communicate clearly are the qualities that make effective salesmen (the resource of strengths). Exploring this line of thinking, Marcus realized that it wasn’t so much the writing that he loved in being a reporter; it was talking to people, learning their stories, and communicating ideas. We took the approach of start anywhere and before you’re ready. We traded Marcus’ lousy question of, “How can I get a job?” to “What would I love to do?” Marcus reached out to some of his connections who had similar skills but were in different industries (resources). This time, though, he wasn’t looking for a job. He was looking for what they loved about their careers, how they got started, and where they could see him succeeding in a similar career.
With his new focus, optimism, enthusiasm, and openness to possibly starting a new career, Marcus readily changed other behaviors. He focused on what he could control, which was upgrading his skill set. He chunked those activities into small, discrete steps that he then celebrated as an accomplishment. It had been a long since Marcus felt a sense of accomplishment. Once he felt it again, though, he wanted more. With this retooling of skills and renewed confidence in himself, Marcus transitioned to a sales career in the telecommunications industry. He traded the incessant deadlines of reporting for lucrative commissions.
The last time I spoke to him, Marcus was enjoying his new career immensely. Rather than a dead-end, he saw opportunity and advancement. Because he could relate so fully to others who were still struggling in their careers, Marcus had volunteered to speak to some local job search groups. He wanted to inspire others to believe in themselves and find the answer for their new career. He explained, “I thought finding a new job was about what I needed to DO. I never realized it was all about my beliefs and my thinking. I want to make sure other people know this too.”