When was the last time you moved house?
If it’s been a while, you may have forgotten the “joys” of this particular life endeavour …
If it was fairly recently, there’s every chance that you haven’t forgotten. And are quite possibly firmly ensconced in a “not doing that again for as long as possible!” frame of mind.
Because let’s face it … most of the time, moving house isn’t actually very much fun.
It’s exciting and momentous and lots of other wonderful things. But when you come to it, to the actual doing of it, it can be really rather stressful … and difficult … and overwhelming. Definitely overwhelming.
The daughter of some good friends of mine recently reminded me of just how overwhelming it can be.
She’s 31, and along with her partner, has just bought her first property. Something that – as we all know – isn’t an easy feat these days … which made it all the more exciting and momentous.
Given the financial challenges of getting on the property ladder, they opted – as many people do – for a property that needed quite a bit of work doing. One that had “potential” rather than being their ready-made dream home.
It meant they were able to buy a three-bedroomed house with a small garden – far more than their budget would have stretched to if they were buying something in pristine condition …
And fully renovating a property is actually something that can make the whole process even more exciting. Having the opportunity to change it and make it completely yours … a bit like designing your dream home from scratch.
However, it also means you have to do the work, and live through the renovations … And this bit is a little more challenging.
They were renting before they bought, so as soon as the sale completed they had to move in. They couldn’t afford to continue to rent AND pay their new mortgage.
So they, and the contents of their rented home – the million little things one accumulates that make a house a home, plus the necessary big things one needs to make it a home at all – moved into their new house.
Box after box after crate after box, it all piled in …
Into the house that needed a complete overhaul before it would be enjoyable to live in.
And suddenly, their exciting momentous life event was somewhat overshadowed by the sheer size of the task ahead of them.
“There’s no point unpacking everything yet,” they told themselves. “We need to decorate every room – we’ll only have to move everything again!”
So they unpacked the bare minimum, and everything else stayed in boxes. Boxes that sat in their respective “designated” room in the house, waiting for the day that said room would be ready to welcome them properly.
And they started to plan.
They talked about what they needed to do … What work they wanted to do in each room; what would need a professional, and what they could do themselves; what they needed to remove, change, replace …
The list grew. The plans grew. The budget grew. But the work didn’t start.
Because they didn’t know WHERE to start.
With such a monumental amount to do, and with costs that were spiralling far beyond their means, it was impossible to see a starting point. Plus of course, they had boxes and boxes and crates and boxes in the way. In every room. Everywhere.
The house was a mess, their heads were a mess, and as a result … they were getting nowhere.
And this is when I saw them. I was at her parents’ – my good friends – house, when they popped in unexpectedly … needing to get away from the chaos, and to offload to a supportive parental ear or two. Or three, as it turned out.
“We can’t live like this any more!” they cried. “But we have no choice! We’ve not even started, it’s going to be months before we’re even close to finishing!”
Yet they did have a choice. And in fact, choice was the EXACT SOLUTION to their problem.
You see, theirs was a classic case of overwhelm. And overwhelm is something that always seems like a volume problem, but it is actually a DECISION problem.
They couldn’t decide what to do first, so they hadn’t done anything.
They couldn’t decide what they’d do next, so they hadn’t done anything.
They couldn’t decide how to go about it all, so they hadn’t done anything.
They even admitted to just “wishing the problem away” and hoping they’d wake up one morning to a miracle of a beautifully renovated house.
That’s understandable. We’ve all had a similar wish, a similar reaction to an unpleasant or seemingly impossible task before, right?
But if they were able to see past the size of the task, and focus on making at least a few decisions, perhaps they would be able to start making some progress? And perhaps, once they’d made the FIRST decision, it would become easier to make the rest of the decisions, too?
So together, calmly and methodically, we talked through their plans. Room at a time, step by step, and we helped them decide where to start.
We prioritised what needed doing. What was urgent, in order to live safely and comfortably … what could perhaps wait a year or two, until they’d replenished their savings … what work did they really want done the most, that would make them happiest in the short term.
We identified the things they could do themselves … the painting and DIY they could tackle in a weekend with the help of a few willing friends and a crate of cold beers. We identified the things that would make the biggest difference, and that could be done in the shortest time … or at the lowest cost.
And then, they made some decisions …
They decided where to start.
And they decided to start with those things they could do themselves. They enlisted the help of those few friends, and over the course of a weekend they stripped, then painted, decorated and DIY’d the lounge and two of the bedrooms. They had to move all the boxes in those rooms before they could start, but a day later they were able to finally unpack them. Plus, they then had two finished rooms where they could store other boxes whilst they worked on the rest of the house.
Suddenly they had a bit more space. And a bit more headspace. And a sense of progress.
Things were already looking up.
They decided a new kitchen was more important to them than a new bathroom. So decision made, they chose one, booked in the installation, and set about decorating the bathroom themselves … to “spruce it up” in the meantime, whilst they replenished their savings.
Little by little, step by step, they transformed their house into their home.
Once they had decided what to do first, and next, and how … the overwhelm fell away, and they were able to get the job done.
They just needed to stop focusing on the VOLUME of tasks, and instead focus on the DECISIONS they needed to make.
Their house still isn’t perfect. They still want to do a number of improvements. But they have a freshly decorated, warm and comfortable house, their DREAM kitchen, and not an unpacked box in sight. And they are very happy indeed.
Overwhelm is common. Whether during a house move or another situation, we’ve all been there …
And more often than not … overwhelm hits us at work.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed in your business, maybe you can overcome it in exactly the same way as my friends’ daughter?
Maybe you just need to focus on making the first decision?
There might always be a mountain of things to do. Maybe that’s ok. Maybe the volume isn’t actually a problem …
Maybe you just need to find a way to prioritise the things to do first, and to do next. And to decide how you’re going to do them.
And maybe when you do, you’ll be running a business that has your “dream kitchen, and not a box in sight” …
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, why not book an unblocking session to get out of your own woods and get some clarity on where to go next.
Or sign up to the FREE accountability system to outline your priorities and ensure you stick to them.