How to stop overwhelm from stalling you on the road to profitability

by | Sep 23, 2010

Let’s say you decide to take action on the business side of self-employment. You vow to get out of the under-earning cycle. You invest some time, and probably some money, learning how to do that.

But somewhere between learning what you need to do and getting to where it makes you money, you get stalled. And instead of starting a blog or working on an info-product, you find yourself playing Farmville. Or sweeping the kitchen. Or mindmapping possibilities until your brain sizzles.

What’s up with that?

Three things that stall your business

I’ve worked with hundreds of Accidental Entrepreneurs who’ve gotten stalled between a good idea and profitable results. Most of them have one or more of these problems:

  1. The project isn’t deeply meaningful.
  2. The project is overwhelming.
  3. They don’t have a structure that supports good orderly direction.

When projects lack deep meaning, they stall

Sometimes you take on business projects because you know you should. You should rewrite your home page. You should create an info-product.

But shoulds, even when you know they’re tied to your income, aren’t very compelling if they lack meaning. Unless, that is, they are connected to a deeper priority, what I call an inner mandate. A meaningful purpose that you’d work toward even if you didn’t have to earn a living.

Figuring out how your business project relates to your larger purpose is essential to getting it done.

Projects are overwhelming when the big picture and the details are out of focus

There are two ways we get overwhelmed. The big picture can be so big, so monolithic, that we’re too daunted to begin. Or the details are so endless or chaotic that we don’t know where to begin.

The remedy for overwhelm is to get the big picture–the project as a whole–into sync with the details–what needs to be done. In other words, the remedy for overwhelm is focus.

Projects lack structure when you don’t know have a map or plan

When you don’t have a structure that supports good orderly direction, a term coined by Julia Cameron in “The Artist’s Way”, you can take lots of action and still not make a profit.

The challenge is finding a structure that supports creative action toward a profitable outcome. A structure that feels like a trellis, not a straitjacket.

The right structure needs to be simple, repeatable, and flexible without being wishy-washy. That may sound obvious, but too often planning and productivity structures are complicated and confining or so free-form you get lost.

You need them all 

Meaning. Focus. Structure. They work together. No matter how sharp your focus, if a project doesn’t have meaning, you won’t follow through. You can have a meaningful project and good focus, but without structure you can work quite hard without a profit.

Together they lead to meaningful profit, a thing of beauty.

A quickie guide to meaning, focus, and structure

Here are the key steps of creating meaning, focus, and structure in your biz.

  1. Decide what you’re up to. What contribution do you want to make to the world? I choose to help end the cycle of under-earning among Accidental Entrepreneurs. Jen Louden chooses to help women get past a sense of inadequacy so they can change the world. What’s yours?When you’ve decided what you’re up to, decide how you will express that in a profit-making project. Will you start a blog? Teach a teleclass? Market a package your services?
  2. When you have your meaningful project, chunk it down. Write down everything you can think of that needs to happen without worrying about getting it in logical order. When you’ve done this brain dump, organize your thoughts into steps. Chunk those steps down into individual actions. Make one phone call. Draft one email. Whatever, but keep it small.
  3. Each day declare what specific actions you will take, take them, and report on what you did and didn’t do. This works best when you have accountability, like in a master mind group. It’s better to declare just a few actions and take them than to make a big list and fall short. It’s a huge part of successfully dealing with overwhelm.

Golden wheelIs it time to stop spinning your wheels?

The Traction Mastermind is an elite coaching program that will get you unstuck and into action. In 16 weeks you’ll dissolve the barriers that hold you back once and for all so you can really be all that you are and do all that you are meant to do—and enjoy yourself in the process.
Image credits
Trellis: Sean D’Souza,