“Brain! Stop throwing so many ideas at me – I can’t cope with them all!”

These were the words spoken by one of my clients recently, and it came from a conversation around the perceived challenges posed by being passionate and driven about what you do.

For some out there, they may say – “Do what?!” “Challenges?? What on earth could possibly be wrong with being passionate and driven?!”

Well, nothing is wrong with it, really.

But, if you’re familiar with this predicament, you’ll know that it can be easy to move from a place of energy and excitement, to overwhelm and exhaustion in a very small space of time indeed. And, when you’re an ‘ideas’ person, and you’re driven to push things forward, it can sometimes feel as though you are at the mercy of your brain.

I’m not gonna lie – I discovered this about myself quite some time ago. And whilst I’ve found a way to redirect that energy into something that serves me, there are still times where I can find myself revisiting old territory.

And it goes something like this…

The excitement-overwhelm spiral

  • Something exciting happens or you come up with an idea/multitude of ideas
  • You notice the excitement start turning into overwhelm
  • You start to ‘flap’
  • Before you know it, it has taken over and you are ‘in it’ – it feels as though it is a part of you.
  • A ‘nice’ (not so much) add-on, particularly if you have experienced burnout or health issues, is then starting to get fearful of the overwhelm and subsequent stress – ‘knowing’ (aka believing) it is damaging for you.
  • You then do everything you can to resist the stress, which in actuality only serves to strengthen it
  • And here’s the pièce de résistance – you then judge yourself for being so stressed i.e. “I should have dealt with this better… I should have achieved more” etc, etc.

Any of this sound familiar?

If it does, please know that the above mix does not have to be your modus operandi.

There is another way (but don’t get too excited now).

The ideas are not the problem

The first part is recognising that the ideas are not the problem. It’s what you DO with the ideas, and how you FEEL when they come up – that’s the important bit. Because commonly, the feeling that comes up for you excitable types, is the sentiment “Argh, I must do everything RIGHT NOW… I have to SEIZE this moment!”

Developing awareness

As with any change, it all starts with awareness. Ask yourself these key questions:

  • What are the triggers that send you into a spin?
  • And how do you know you’re tipping into that mindset?

When you’ve recognised your triggers, you have the starting point for change. Because it is at these moments, that you need to make the break.

Consider what would it be like to take a step back. Imagine you’re stepping away from the immediate situation (yourself and the ideas) and see the top down perspective – the bigger picture. How does that feel as you shift your viewpoint from being ‘in it’ to being the ‘observer’?

Choose your ‘state’

Conscious ‘state’ (aka mood, mindset, emotion) management is key, and something I harp on about A LOT – because while we can’t change the objective situations in our lives, the one thing we can change – is ourselves. And that all comes down to the state we operate from.

So, I was talking to a good friend about this thing we call the excitement-overwhelm spiral, and they, it seems, do not have this problem. So when I asked them: “How do you feel when you have an idea and are unable to act on it straight way?” and “How do you feel when you have to note it down in your book for later action?”

Rather than saying “Overwhelmed by all the ideas,” or “Panicking because I feel like I need to do it NOW” they said “Satisfied.” Just that. “Satisfied.”

I can’t get no… or perhaps you can?

Ooooh. Just think about that. How lovely would life be if, every time you got a brilliant idea, or an exciting opportunity, yes you might get excited, but rather than going into overdrive, you connected with a deep sense of satisfaction?

How would it feel if, every time you added a new focus to the ideas book, you felt satisfied that you had another great project to work on when the time came to it?

Now there are obviously practical considerations to take into account around prioritising and re-evaluating your work based on urgency, importance, ROI etc, but this is a key starting point if, for you, the excitement-overwhelm spiral is a very real thing…

And remember, the idea is going to be there regardless of whether you jump on it straight away or not, and the situation is the situation – you won’t change anything by going into a flap. If you can acknowledge and enjoy the inspiration of it, but also allow yourself to be satisfied and practical about it – there is no problem. There is no headspin.

In the next blog feature of this three part series, I’ll be introducing more tips for addressing the excitement rabbit hole, so until then, keep those ideas flowing… 😉