Typically, when one critical part of your life isn’t going well, it seeps into other areas; the disenchantment spreads like food coloring in water.
So, what can you do to snap yourself out of overwhelm paralysis? How do you determine what’s most important and dedicate your immediate, entire focus to it?
This week, I’ll conclude the get-unstuck series with another live coaching session joined by a brave volunteer from Expats on Purpose. And just like in the last episode, it’ll be unprepared, unrehearsed, raw, and unedited — I won’t even know what we’re going to talk about until I hit that record button.
Unsure if it’s pandemic fatigue or expat life fatigue, my special guest, Angela, feels stuck in many different places. I’ll lead Angela through the heavy, mucky, muddy water that’s suctioning her down, into an oasis where she’s unburdened, and trusts her own voice to guide and define her success.
What You’ll Learn in this Episode:
- Entrepreneurship vs. Science
- The self-imposed “should be doing” list
- Digital detox from voices that no longer resonate
- What you feel vs. what you want to feel instead
- The shame of being stuck too long
Listen to the Full Episode
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Full Episode Transcript:
Hello. It is 8:00 am in New York, 2:00 pm in Johannesburg, and 8:00 pm in Bangkok. Welcome to the Expat Happy Hour. This is Sundae Schneider-Bean from www.sundaebean.com. I am a solution-orientated coach and intercultural strategist for individuals and organizations. I am on a mission to help you adapt and succeed when living abroad and get you through any life transition.
I had a dream where I was in this narrow wooden canoe on a huge ocean of rolling waves. They were about 45 feet tall and they were rolling me closer and closer to the side of a rock cliff. I woke up before I could find out whether my canoe was demolished, but I knew it was a sign. Whenever I’m dreaming of waves or tsunamis, I know that I’m overwhelmed and overwhelmed is another way of being stuck. That sense of paralysis when we’ve got so much going on we don’t know where to start.
Last week in episode 218 you listen to Sharryn, and how she went from resigned and stuck, to total clarity in just 21 minutes. This week, I’m going to share with you another woman’s journey from stagnant and heavy, to lightness and relief. This is all part of the three-part series I’ve been doing on Getting Unstuck.
Remember in episode 217: Life in Limbo, we talked about the importance of sitting in the stuck and both of the recent episodes have shown you how to do that. I want to give you the tools that you need to create momentum in your own life and in your business. So listen in to this session for clues on how you can make that happen:
Sundae: All right, Angela, thank you so much for your willingness to share your process with the listeners of Expat Happy Hour. Just so the listeners know Angela and I just jumped on two minutes ago and said, “Hi,” and I have no idea what she’s bringing to this unstuck session. So Angela, why don’t you tell me where is it that you’re feeling stuck right now?
Angela: I think. Gosh, I feel like it’s in several areas of my life and it could be pandemic related or I’ve just reached that plateau in my expat life. I’ve been living overseas for 10 years and like big decisions need to be made and I feel just stuck in that decision-making process. And we could focus on one if you wanted to or we could focus on it’s just interesting like even my relationship with my husband or my friendships or even my business wise, everything just feels a bit stagnant.
Sundae: Right? Yeah. I know. Where is the place that feels most important for you to focus on right now?
Angela: I feel like my business because that’s a big one. It’s whether I need to change directions or pivot or like relationships are what they are. And there’s nothing bad going on. So I don’t think anything that doesn’t need immediate attention to me. I feel like yeah on the business side the coaching side is just yeah. I feel very stuck. And A bit overwhelmed with all the things that need to be done in the entrepreneurial world as I’m sure people are aware.
Sundae: Yeah. So did you feel overwhelmed? How else does it feel to be stuck there?
Angela: I mean, I have a handful of coaching clients. I have some good programs coming up. I think It’s just I think there’s ways I could show up more in my business that I struggle with and it’s always like I run out of time or there’s a zillion other things I’m doing between family and life in general. And then I’m always just like, there’s all this guilt, of like, “Oh I should have done that this week or I didn’t get around to those things.” So I feel like there’s this perpetual just stuck in the same pattern.
Sundae: How do you want to feel instead?
Angela: I want to feel relieved and that I’m making progress in my business. Yeah.
Sundae: Great. So I’m going to ask you to do something that probably is not going to feel comfortable. I don’t know about you but when I don’t when I feel stuck or when I’m stuck in those feelings of guilt or overwhelmed or whatever, I don’t want to stay there. I want to leave.
Sundae: But I’m going to ask you to actually sit in the stuck for a second and I promise I won’t make you stay there the whole time. But just for a moment, I want you to think about that you’re there. You said you’re stuck and when you imagine being stuck? What image comes to mind?
Angela: It’s funny because for some reason colors come up, like grayness and darkness and almost like mucky muddy water. Yeah.
Sundae: I get that, and how does it feel to look at that mucky muddy water?
Angela: It feels heavy. It’s a burden. Both physically weighing on me, but also emotionally, mentally, you know? Yeah.
Sundae: I’m curious. Are you in that water? Are you observing it from a distance? Tell me more.
Angela: I am in it, but my background is environmental so I don’t mind being in muddy water. So that doesn’t bother me as much as just yeah, I feel like I’m in it. Although I have some good, tall wader boots on.
Sundae: Tell me more about your boots.
Angela: They’re probably knee-high. Yeah, just waterproof, so I’m not getting soaking wet, but it’s still hard to move through it.
Sundae: Write the word “clunky” is coming up.
Angela: Yes. Yeah. Yeah. It’s burdensome almost. Yeah.
Sundae: Right so burden, heavy, clunky.
Sundae: So again, this might be a stretch but when you see yourself there in the muddy water, in the heavy, in the stuck, what are you learning about yourself?
Angela: Probably that I know I can do better to get out of that. But that every time I take a step, I’m not improving my situation. I’m resilient. I want to get out of it and go out of the muddy pond, but every time I take a step the mud just kind of fills back in and I can’t seem to make it out to the edge. I’ll make a few improvements like a few steps that seem like progress and then you’re still stuck there. Yeah.
Sundae: And how is standing in that stuck actually making you better?
Angela: It’s not. Yeah.
Sundae: Tell me more.
Angela: It’s not because I’m not doing the things I want to be doing, like helping clients or helping my family’s income or helping the world in general be a better place. I feel like I keep getting stuck in all the minutiae of the social media or blogs or all the things that you should be doing but I’m not really doing the stuff that I really got into coaching for. You know, it is to help people improve their lives. So it’s a very frustrating feeling. Yeah.
Sundae: So those steps that you were talking about that aren’t bringing you to the side of the pond you mentioned one of them is a minutiae of social media. What are those other steps that you’re taking?
Angela: I mean, just the little stuff like websites or I feel I probably spend too much time in groups or on calls with people that aren’t moving my business forward. What else? There’s a lot of other family stuff, but most of that has to get done. It’s not that it’s a burden, it’s more just the time it takes away from. Yeah.
Sundae: Right. So if you were, you know you’re sitting there in that mucky pond. You got there somehow.
Sundae: When did you notice that those boots were getting harder to move?
Angela: Like timewise? You mean like a time frame?
Sundae: Yeah, exactly.
Angela: I think it was getting a little muddy in the last 2 years I think. A lot of it is my own self-imposed. I shouldn’t say self-imposed but listening to too many- what do they say? “If you listen to too many gurus you won’t know who to follow.” But just like everyone tells you all these different things and then it just came in the last year, year and a half. Where it was just overwhelming the amount of stuff that was on the should be doing list. Yeah.
Sundae: Right. So overwhelming has come up already twice.
Sundae: So one of the, I call it a “red flag,” when there’s a sign that you’re going down a path that’s probably not good for you. So that feeling of overwhelming I’m guessing is one of those red flags. What are some of those other red flags?
Angela: I mean, it’s funny, I’m a health coach and I noticed just in the past I would say, few months, I’m like, “Wow, I’m not doing the things that I tell my clients to do.” Like exercise regularly or drink water in the morning. Those little habits that I’ve had for years sometimes fall off. I fall off track and I was like, “How am I supposed to be helping others when some days I can’t do it for myself.” Yeah.
Sundae: It’s so good. Our clients keep us so honest, right?
Angela: Oh, I know they’re teachers, you know, they’re teaching us things as well. That’s for sure.
Sundae: They make us better people. So a red flag is when your health practices start to slide?
Angela: Yeah. Yeah, my daily health habits and yeah your happiness. I mean, I see it in my sleep. I wake up thinking about things I should be doing, and I’m like, “Well this isn’t good.” We all need our quality sleep as well as quantity.
Sundae: So I’m curious because you’ve lived a complex life, I have a hunch that there have been times in the past where you felt overwhelmed but you were able to get out of it. Think of a time? What did you do then to get out of it?
Angela: In the past. I’ve always – I’m a scientist by training so I like to do research, you know reading and kind of, “Okay that makes sense.” Or I like to know the biology and science behind why we do things a certain way. So I do a lot of research, but I also don’t know if I can research my way out of getting unstuck. But the other thing is I reach out to friends. I’ve always had a very tight network of friends and family and I think this past year with COVID everybody including myself has retreated quite a bit. And I don’t feel that connection. I say that and I’ve actually reached out to other people back in my home country, that I wasn’t doing that much of before the pandemic. But yeah, I think I’m missing that connection with friends or family members to kind of talk you through the situation because I think I’ve been in that mud for so long that there’s a little bit of shame around it as well. Like, “Why haven’t I gotten myself unstuck already?” So I haven’t been reaching out to people. I keep thinking, “Oh, I’m going to get out. I’m going to get out,” but it’s obvious. I need more than just what I think I can do, you know?
Sundae: I totally get that from a coaching perspective. It’s like you put yourself under so much pressure to coach yourself out of something, when in reality our whole job is to partner with people. Right, but why would be outside of that?
Sundae: Right. So with overwhelm you have a hunch that connection will be helpful and has helped in the past. What else has helped in the past to reduce overwhelm?
Angela: I think looking at what is a priority and the other thing that has helped me in the past, I always joke about this because I used to be really well organized. So like, I have good to-do lists and planned and I have been sucking at that lately. And I don’t know if it’s just another one of those things, I can see the steps in the muddy pond. I keep knowing I need to do it. Like breaking down these big big tasks into smaller goals. Obviously. I mean, that’s what I teach my clients when it comes to their health and well-being. As well as like it’s not about overnight getting healthy. It’s about breaking it down and creating healthy little habits. But I struggle with getting a little better organized in my week or even just looking at where I can let some things go even that aren’t as important. But because it’s all floating around in my head too often, it’s not doing anyone a whole heck of a lot of good when it’s not very well organized.
Sundae: So knowing that, needing to prioritize, then once that’s clear break it down into smaller goals, what has to happen for you to actually do that work?
Angela: I need to just plan it in my week. Whether it’s half an hour each day or I’ve had coaches say, “Even if you could do a little bit in the morning and if you could get three things done,” that kind of thing. And then at the end of the day, at least write down what you need to do the next day, so it’s not weighing on you as you go into the sleep state. Yeah.
Sundae: I love that you talked about, weighing on you, because I know it connects the idea of heavy.
Sundae: What about this, “too many gurus” and all of this should say more about what you can do as you move forward to get clear on a priority?
Angela: I think a lot of that has to do with a good digital detox, like going through emails, getting rid of things. That’s an area of my life that as an entrepreneur I get overwhelmed with again like, “Okay, I’m on all these email lists or all these Facebook groups,” or like things that I think will help. I mean will help me in my business but help reach out to other people as well or collaborate. And I think I really need to narrow that down and focus on just the ones that I want to focus on or that I feel a connection with. Instead of when the entrepreneur world is like one’s telling you, “Oh you need to niche down and get more specific,” and the next one’s telling you not to do that. So you’re just like, “I don’t know.”
Sundae: So how are you going to decide? What will be the criteria for you to prioritize whose voice to listen to.
Angela: I think I need to do a little bit of soul-searching on my own to see, “Okay. What are my priorities? What do I want my business to look like? Who do I have a connection with?” And then just go through and say, sign off, unsubscribe, do all those things to the ones that I’m not feeling that kind of synergy with.
Sundae: I’ve found it really interesting that you use the word detox because you are a health coach. Right? So the food equivalent of all the people that need to get off your list and stop listening to their voices.
Angela: Yeah, that’s sugar, processed foods. Yeah. Yep.
Sundae: So all of those messages that resonate with that sort of toxic food.
Sundae: Great, there’s something that’s bubbling up. I’m wondering, if you let go of all of those other voices, what do you make space for?
Angela: My own voice. My own message. My own like authentic. I feel like entrepreneurship was a huge pivot for me. I came from the science world and I loved what I did there and then we made a decision as expats to leave our home country 10 years ago. And I would raise the kids and I was okay with that and I knew that I probably could go back to my old career just because what I did, that doesn’t really apply here. But entrepreneurship was a huge pivot for me. And so I think I took it on almost like I did for college or my career, tons of research, this this this, where maybe I overdid it a bit. And it doesn’t quite apply in the scientific world where you do all this research and come up with a great theory or something at the end. Where entrepreneurship is you can take lots of stuff and get really overwhelmed and not know your answer and lose your voice in the process. So I think cutting back on all the noise, so to speak, will help me hear what really is my message and why I want to help other people.
Sundae: That’s great.
Sundae: So what are you learning about yourself in this process?
Angela: This process right now?
Sundae: Yes, right now.
Angela: It was interesting because I hadn’t thought about how I tackled entrepreneurship like I did my science life. I think I have just taken on so much of other people’s vision of what it should be or shouldn’t be, which is funny. It’s very interesting as a scientist because as a scientist you rely on good data, you don’t take stuff from unreliable data. So to me it’s kind of funny in the entrepreneurial world there is a wide range of people and expertise but there’s no proven way to do things. Everybody has their own path that they follow. And so one of the things I’ve learned through this, just talking to you in the last few minutes is like, “Okay. Why am I listening to everyone else and not my own voice?” Is it because I’m so unsure in the business side of growing the business or reaching out that I’m not trusting my own path. Yeah, so that’s kind of interesting when I look at it that way. Yeah.
Sundae: So based all that we’ve talked about today, what do you feel motivated to do as a next step?
Angela: Definitely gonna unclutter my digital world and the gurus that I’ve been listening to and focus on and get a little bit better organized so I have some time to actually journal or listen to myself and what it is that is my true purpose or my true calling. And I’m not bad-mouthing coaching or entrepreneurship at all because I know there’s a place for it, but maybe it can be overwhelming. So just taking the good parts that I’ve learned and trying to break down those steps into little steps into my week or into my day that feels good without overwhelming me.
Sundae: That’s wonderful. So if we translate those next steps, how does that look in your pond metaphor. What do you do next? What are you seeing in that pond?
Angela: A bit clearer water. Not so muddy. Now my pond is not so heavy feeling. It’s almost like an oasis. It’s actually a nice place, you can stay in the water if you like or you can go to the edge and enjoy the surrounding parts of nature. So yeah, it feels like I’m trying to think of a better word, but doable is all that’s coming to my mind.
Sundae: Right. I love that it moved from heavy and murky to an oasis.
Sundae: So tell me, at the beginning of this call, you said that you were feeling overwhelmed and stuck, basically. How do you feel now?
Angela: I feel it was very eye-opening to think about. It was eye-opening to feel like, “Oh, this is why.” So again, I think it went back to a little bit of what we talked about, I like to know why we’re doing things and it was just I think my science brain was like, “Why are you so stuck Angela?” But looking at it, “Oh, this is how your science brain used to work,” where you would pull reliable data and you’re not. I mean, “Put your science cap back on Angela,” and you’re like, “All of this data you’ve got is not all reliable,” you know. So maybe just being able to look at it from like, “Okay, that’s why I was doing it.” Now I feel better. I’m not losing my mind or something or feeling shameful about not moving forward or not making the progress that I had been doing. So seeing why my patterns for me is very helpful, why I was kind of stuck in that pattern and knowing that, “Okay, you can go back and purge a little bit,” you know. Get rid of some of the noise and focus on a little better organization in my day and week.
Sundae: Wonderful. So what do you want to be reporting back this time in two weeks?
Angela: Oh that I’ve shed a lot of that, “should do things” and that I’m focusing, I have a good routine and that I’m feeling more energetic even overall in the family life because I mean we all know that as coaches you can’t separate everything into these little boxes. So I know how when I help clients or when I’m helping myself eat better, drink the water, exercise those kinds of things, it has a ripple effect in all the other things. So family life, how I show up in my relationship with my husband, how I show up in my business, those kinds of things. So I think I’m going to feel less overwhelmed and by having a little bit of a better plan and organization in my week.
Sundae: So good. How confident are you that you’re going to be able to report that back this time next week?
Angela: I feel really confident because I’ve been struggling with this for a while and I mean I even feel lighter just having this conversation. I think I do need to reach out and maybe to a friend or a colleague or something and maybe have a regular weekly accountability kind of effort, just to hold me accountable. But also it just helps kind of unload that burden of expat life and entrepreneur life. All of it.
Sundae: Tell me about it. Thank you so much Angela.
Angela: Oh, this is great. No, thanks. Oh my gosh. Huge thanks to you. That was wonderful. I had no idea what to expect. So that was really eye-opening.
Sundae: Love it. Thank you.
I want to thank Angela for showing up so fully in this process. Not only does it take courage to show up for yourself but to do that and share it in the Expat Happy Hour is another layer. So thank you so much Angela for being so present and so generous in helping us listen in and learn alongside you.
Some of you who are listening might be coaches like Angela and while you found this interesting to process for your own self, maybe you’re even more interested about processes like this for your clients, right? That is exactly what I’m all about. This is part of a bigger mission of mine. For those of you who want to serve expats well and run a successful business, I am so excited to announce that we are going to run a second edition of Expat Coach Secrets in April, where you get the scoop on the global mobility industry and tools for your clients so you can boost your business.
So again, sign up in the show notes, so you don’t miss any of the free resources this month. It is me delivering free workshops, and I’ve got members of the Expat Coach Coalition by my side to help you. So Expat Coach Secrets, it’s all about working your passion and growing your bank account and loving your life.
That’s not the only announcement I have up my sleeve! As you know, it is actually why I created Expat Coach Coalition so I can support coaches who are working in the global mobility space and help you make a bigger impact with clients who are facing olympic-level challenges. So stick around because I’ll be announcing when the doors open for that very very soon and don’t hesitate join us for Expat Coach Secrets to get a taste of what we’re all about and get on the waiting list for Expat Coach Coalition for the next round because spots are going to fill fast.
You’ve been listening to Expat Happy Hour. This is Sundae Schneider-Bean, thank you for listening. I’ll leave you with the words of Kris Carr: “It’s not about finding your voice. It’s about giving yourself permission to use your voice.”