The Overwhelm FairieIf an asteroid is flying through space, it won’t ever stop.

It just keeps flying and flying until something stops it.

If it’s hurtling, it’ll hurtle.

If it’s trucking, it’ll truck.

If it’s drifting, it’ll drift.

Forever and ever and ever, until something happens to change it.

We in the industry refer to the agent of change as “the Interplanetary Space Fairy”.

The Interplanetary Space Fairy comes in the night and does something magical to the asteroid and makes it move, or change direction, or stop.

(Yes, there is totally nighttime in space.)

I’ve been noticing a trend among ittybiz owners.

OK, yes, I’ve been noticing it primarily in myself.

But that’s only because I’m around me 24 hours a day.

You do it, too, I promise.

Let’s say there’s something you should be doing.

Actually, no.

Let’s say there’s something you WANT to be doing.

Hmm. That’s not quite right either.

It would be more accurate to say that you want the results of having done it.

Maybe it’s optimizing for search engines.

Maybe it’s following up with old customers.

Maybe it’s getting off your ass and making some damn money already.

You find the task overwhelming, and when you consider beginning work on it, you say:

“I’ll get to it later.”

(This is usually preceded by a guttural sound that, if spelled, would look something like “ARGUKH”.)

Now, I’m not coming out against putting things off. I’m actually a huge fan of the practice.

(Some of my best friends put things off!)

I’ve found since childhood that in many cases, if you put something off for long enough, someone else will do it for you.

Anecdotal evidence supports this.

When I sit in the corner and whine for iced tea for long enough, yes, eventually Jamie or Dave or one of the ninjas will get one for me.

The problem arises when I try to apply the same logic indiscriminately.

If I sit in the corner and whine for a Facebook ad campaign, I don’t generally get the same result.

The problem with overwhelm.

It seems that we, as ittybiz owners, have collectively agreed to agree that the feeling of overwhelm is normal.

And we’re right.

We’ve agreed that it’s natural.

And we’re right.

We’ve agreed that the only reasonable solution to overwhelm is to ignore what we should be doing and find something funner to do instead.

Not so fast there, tiger.

Because here’s the thing.

If it’s too hot to clean your oven, but the temperature will drop 20 degrees tomorrow, sure. Grab a beer and take a load off.

But if you live in Hawaii, it’s not going to get any easier tomorrow.

Or next month.

Or in 2015.

Nothing is ever going to change.

Same with ittybiz overwhelm.

And if you find it overwhelming today, you’ll find it overwhelming tomorrow.

When we start playing the “But it’s so overwhelming!” card, we don’t stop to ask ourselves:

Do we have ANY evidence to support that it will be ANY less overwhelming at ANY time in the future?

We do not.

“I will wait until it’s less overwhelming,” sounds perfectly reasonable.

The perfectly synonymous “I will do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about this until the overwhelm fairy comes in the night” somehow does not.

But isn’t that what we say? If we’re honest?

May I offer some suggestions?

If this is you, I offer two possible courses of action.

1. Every time you suffer from overwhelm-related procrastination, say these words out loud in front of a mirror:

“I will do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about this until the overwhelm fairy comes in the night.”

Stand there and look at yourself until somebody blinks.

This is not to shame you or guilt you into action. This is to assist you in reclaiming your status as an adult and taking full  responsibility for your plans and actions.

If your plan is to do nothing, look yourself in the eye and say so.

2. If that doesn’t work, make a list of five to 10 things you’ve been putting off due to overwhelm.

Find a supportive person, online or in real life. (If they’re online, schedule a quick Skype chat with them, ideally video so you can see each other’s faces.)

Read them your list, one item at a time.

After each item, pause for them to respond.

They should respond, “What is your plan for dealing with that?”

You should say:

“I will do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about it until the overwhelm fairy comes in the night.”

Repeat with each item.

If your plan is to do nothing, look someone else in the eye and say so.

On plans and acting like a grown-up

If you have a plan, own it.

Preach it.

Shout it from the rooftops.

If you wouldn’t be comfortable shouting your plan from the rooftops, perhaps it’s time for a new plan.


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