Ack! Overwhelmed!


I love working with high-functioning clients. The clients who are brilliant, talented, motivated and driven to succeed and achieve in life. There is nothing more rewarding as a Life Coach than to see them launch and move forward in ways they never imagined. However, one challenge seems to face them at one time or the other and that is an overriding sense of being overwhelmed. In their flurry of actions and quest for achievement; buried beneath lists of things to do and goals, they sometimes freeze up and are totally immobile.

They are overwhelmed and they are stuck.

This can be a perilous time for a client. As a coach I have witnessed clients reduced to tears as they try to sort out everything they need or want to get done. It is truly a low point where the thought of “just one more thing,” is, for them, too much to bear.

Hitting that point with a client can bring a session to a screeching halt. The entire coaching process and the session might seem to the circling the bowl.

Helping a client to arrest this free fall can be a challenge but very simple at the same time. There is a process that I use which is called the place mat process which can greatly help the client to once again get things in order.

All of my clients know to always come to a session with paper and a pen or pencil. There is always work to be done and this would definitely be an instance where I would instruct a client to grab theirs and to get ready to work!

The place mat process is very simple. It is a way to separate what the client can get done and then the other things that that client wants to happen but they can’t get done directly. These are the things which are turned over to the universe, or God if you will.

I have the client take sheet of paper, and draw a line down the center. As a heading on the left side, I have them write: Things I Will Do Today, then as a heading on the right side of the line, write: Things I Would Like the Universe to Do. The client will then add from their own To Do List, selecting only those things that they absolutely intend to do this day or feel they must do as well as the things they really want to do and enter them on the left side of the paper. Then they will enter all the other tasks on the Universe’s side of the paper. Simple.

It is amazing the relief that I have seen clients gain from this process, instantly. They refocus, and everything then feels a million times more manageable. This will also cause the client to focus their desires more specifically and to release their resistance regarding them.

As a success story, one of my clients has completely adopted this process and uses it daily to manage her life. In less than a month she has gone from being overwhelmed, stuck, frozen, and immobile, to being absolutely on fire with both of her businesses growing and expanding at rates greater than she imagined.

Being overwhelmed is not a fun place to be. If you find yourself there, I hope this process can help to get things in perspective for you and provides relief.

Andy Wooten M.A. Counseling – Certified Life Coach – Aspen, Colorado

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photo credit: Gwendal_ via photopin cc


  1. […] As a Life Coach one challenge that many of my clients face at one time or the other is an overriding sense of being overwhelmed. In their flurry of actions and quest for achievement, buried beneath lists of things to do, and their goals, they sometimes freeze up and are immobile. When you are overwhelmed, you cannot see where to start or which step to take next due to information or task overload. Overwhelm is the second enemy of action to be on the lookout for and this is how you can overcome it. […]

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