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How to Get Whelmed – an Update

How to Get Whelmed | Melanie J White

In my last post, I talked about being whelmed this year.

That is, overwhelmed, not underwhelmed – just whelmed.

It’s a bit like the story of the three bears and their porridge. Remember in that story, it was all about temperature control and to be patient instead of rushing into hot food.

There’s nothing worse than a hot porridge blister.

But as usual, I digress. Back to being whelmed.

I wanted to share a progress update with you.

One of the secrets to being whelmed is to maintain focus and avoid distraction. That’s because overwhelm partly comes from losing focus and allowing yourself to be distracted.

Next comes procrastination, irritation and then stagnation. Probably some other ‘ations’, too.

The other part of losing focus is over committing because you think you can do it all, have it all and be it all. Or because you think you ‘should.’ Sorry, I tried those lines of thinking (repeatedly, like a good scientist) but they didn’t actually work.

What DOES work is a practice of creating focus, which keeps you FAR from distraction.

Here’s how you get whelmed (the step-by-step process).

1. Write down all your shoulds, especially the guilt-laden ones.

Write them like this: “I should vacuum the stairs.” “I should get this page written by 5pm” etc


2. Change the s in should, to a c for could. Now, instead of a bunch of futile rules, you have created the opportunity to be more discerning within your time and energy.

Like this: “Hmmm, I COULD do the vacuuming….but then I won’t get that page written.” I bet you can see where this is going. You are trimming your to-do list and making it more realistic.


3. Split your list of coulds into this week and next week based on urgency. Now you are spreading the load and diminishing the pressure.

At this point you might feel a little scared….like you aren’t doing enough. That’s ok, sit with the feeling for a few moments and let it pass.


4. Make sure you have no more than 10 hours worth of tasks for this week.

I know, right? Way too underachiever. Wrong! Stick with me on this.


5. Spread those 10 hours into discrete slots in your calendar and 1 hour units.

Yes, even split up a 4-hour task this way. Put 15 minute breaks between each contiguous hour of work.


6. Consider the worst case scenario.

Every task you allocated takes 3 or 4 times longer than planned. In this case, you meet your tasks for the week in 30-40 hours.


7. Consider the best case scenario

You meet your goals and get it all done extremely efficiently. In this case, you have STILL met target but with time to spare. Yay!


This is where whelm sits.

Notice that in either case (6. or 7.) you get the same amount of work done. You win either way.

And THAT is the secret to achieving whelm – it’s about planning and reflecting so you can set yourself up for success, no matter what.

Try this step-by-step process and let me know how you go!

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Getting Whelmed

getting whelmed

Are you starting the year with a bang? With gusto? With a huge rev up? Or, are you planning on getting whelmed this year, like me?

Being an Entrepreneur

Lately I’ve been thinking that the definition of an entrepreneur is this:

You’re someone who can’t stand to work for someone else and just wants the freedom and flexibility to march to the beat of their own drum, and write their own rules.

Still, being an entrepreneur means you take the entire responsibility for everything in your business.

That means you are the face of your business, you are IT, and you have to generate your own momentum, schedule, energy, gusto and enthusiasm.

Which is all great stuff, but you can find yourself in a bit of an energy crisis at times.

Getting Excited….and Overwhelmed

Once upon a time, I would be geeing myself up at this time of year, creating massive energy and excitement, planning, and firing myself up to work relentlessly like a trojan for the next 12 months.

It’s a great way to start the year and it feels really positive.

In this state, I am able to crank out HEAPS of work, produce HEAPS of stuff, and keep my finger in 100 different pies at once.

People say to me, “I wish I could be as productive as you.”

“I wish I could get as much done as you.”

“I wish I could work and achieve as much as you do.”

Thanks everyone!

But when I realised this praise didn’t really resonate with me, I had to question why.

The answer I got was this: “Is THIS what I want to be known for? Getting heaps done at a rapid pace?”

Thinking about that made me feel kinda tired.

And the reason is this – working this way starts well, but it ends up exhausting and overwhelming.

You start on a big hype, get heaps done but you just cant sustain it.

You struggle to maintain that level of energy and quickly go from peak to trough.

Then nothing gets done for a while.

Then you just assume you’ve failed or done something wrong, or are missing something.

Then you might start comparing yourself to others and saying….”I wish I could get as much done as her.”

OH NO! We’re ALL in this together! ha ha ha.

But…what if this weren’t true, and we didn’t have to work this way?

Sure, starting super high feels energizing at first, but it invariably means you end up feeling panicked, overworked and overwhelmed.

Then comes the anxiety and insomnia.

I DON’T want to work like that anymore. Do you?

Plan B – Getting Whelmed

Maybe you want to join me in getting whelmed.

Getting whelmed is my plan for 2018.

I coined this term, and it simply means that I am working:

  • mostly on important but not urgent stuff,
  • intentionally,
  • in pomodoro
  • on purpose,
  • with balance and ease,
  • with calmness,
  • in a well-organised way,
  • making well-thought plans,
  • with clear focus
  • with direction on where my business is going and what I am doing in my life.


In other words, I am mindful, calm and productive.


It isn’t as exciting as the excitement, BUT…

I am working consistently.

And in business, consistency gets results.


So yes, excitement is great (and I do get excited)….but consistent energy, focus and motivation is better.

I am winning.


The Payoff

In this calm, consistent, getting whelmed state of mind, I find that I am laser focused, productive, leap over roadblocks, feel balanced and I am totally in command of myself.

I am getting shit done (GSD) – much more than in at the start of my rollercoaster.

The #1 Trick to Getting it Right

Working this way is also 100% sustainable because I have help.

Sure, you can absolutely get gung-ho and ramp yourself up for a big year and do it all yourself.

But trust me, the chance that you’ll crash and burn (at least once) is pretty high.

So I highly recommend you get some support.

I have my own coach, and I have other peers and mentors in my life to help me with specific areas of business when I need it.

As an entrepreneur living in country NSW, with few like-minded entrepreneurs around me, I know that I need support and connection to maintain momentum, headspace and confidence in my business AND in my life.

Now, I have people to bounce ideas off (so I don’t go off onto a mad, frivolous tangent).

I have people to reflect with (to get different perspective).

I have tools and support to make worthwhile, high-return plans.

I have the aura of calmness and having it all together (which as we know is the key ingredient for being a super-attractive client magnet and person of interest).

I have the energy to enjoy my personal life.

Now you know what getting whelmed is all about….will you join me?

What will you do to get there?


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The Four Tendencies – Obligers in Business

Four Tendencies Obligers in Business

Four Tendencies Obligers in Business

Before you read this post about Obligers in business – check out this quiz and Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Four Tendencies which will describe the principles I’m discussing.

The Four Tendencies tell a LOT about how you operate in the world – and in your business.

Obligers make up the largest percentage of the population, so it’s worth looking at how to optimise your business as an Obliger business owner, and to understand your Obliger customers.

This is the second article in a series of four – here’s the first article, about Questioners.

This blog outlines what makes Obligers tick, and how they can get the best out of this tendency when running their business.

The Obliger

Let’s start with an overview of the type.

Gretchen defines an Obliger as someone who:

“accepts outside rules, but doesn’t like to adopt self-imposed rules.”

In a nutshell, this is the person lives to please, support and help other people – usually at their own expense.

The Obliger may lack confidence in themselves, or may simply place a higher value on helping other people or meeting their responsibilities to others, ahead of their own needs and wants.

Obligers are externally-motivated, so they are driven to do, purchase or engage in something based on what other people think, or want them to do.

They often operate from a position of serving others and wanting to be liked, and/or appreciated.

They are (usually) not very accountable to themselves because they put others first.

They feel that in business, good service and low pricing are the most important things.

Does this sound like you, or someone you know?

The Obligers’ downfall is that they may give too much of themselves, until one day they snap and lash out (in their own gentle way).

Obligers in Business

Effective Relationship Builders

My opinion is that Obligers are usually very successful in building connection within customers, suppliers, partners and staff their business.

That’s because Obligers usually get a whiff of someone else’s unrest or pain before that person even realises they’re suffering.

Then, they reaches out with compassion, a soothing voice and the offer of help so that the recipient feels better.

This means that the people who work with Obligers feel supported, valued, trusted and nurtured.

But things may not go smoothly for all Obligers.

Because they give so much of their time and energy to others, Obligers often find themselves working long hours for little money, and with no time for themselves – overwhelmed and anxious.

And then there is the breaking point – Obliger Rebellion.

Obliger Rebellion

The thing with Obligers is that they eventually get fed up with “all work, no respect” or no recognition – and they snap.

This can happen to both business owners AND employees who are Obligers.

Here’s an example of how that could play out for an Obliger business owner:

Tanya has done EVERYTHING for her customer.

She cancelled a netball game to field the customer’s enquiry at a time to suit the customer.

Tanya gave her customer an extra long first session, and then cut her lunch meeting short to post out a hand written message with a welcome freebie.

Her prices were already low (fair, she thought), but she also discounted the price for this customer who didn’t seem to have much money.

When her customer had to cancel her second session at the last minute, Tanya understood….or…maybe there was something wrong with the first session?

Tanya spent the next hour writing her customer a carefully-worded email, saying it was ok, and things happen, and let’s reschedule.

She wanted to make sure the customer liked Tanya and felt supported enough.

That’s important.

Three days later, Tanya’s client cancelled again, this time with even LESS notice.

Tanya was so fed up – all her efforts were going unnoticed – AND – she had discounted her already-cheap session.

“What does this woman want?” thinks Tanya. “What am I, a doormat?”

She’d spent so much time giving her all, yet felt unappreciated, and a bit hard done by.

It tipped her into Obliger Rebellion.

Beyond the normal sleepless night worrying about her customers, Tanya felt angry this time.

She ruminated on the situation for two days, then eventually called the customer – defensive and angry.

An argument ensued and Tanya hung up feeling intimidated and let down….resolving NEVER again to take on THAT kind of client.

Does this sound familiar?

Despite the tendency to give too much, Tanya is very empathetic, compassionate and a good listener, which makes for engaging customer service.

She also knows that running a business requires her to be clear and confident about her offering and pricing, knowing that her customers’ engagement is not so much about her, it’s more about how ready they are to buy and/or engage.

With a little bit of help, Tanya could move forward in leaps and bounds.

In this case, Tanya could make big improvements by:

  • setting clearer personal boundaries and working on being firmer on these
  • developing a clear business plan with non-negotiable business parameters and boundaries
  • outsourcing tasks that feel ‘difficult’ or ‘pushy’,
  • getting enough time for herself so she doesn’t fall into Rebellion
  • working on a ‘sales conversation’ that feels comfortable and un-salesy, and
  • getting a business mentor or coach to help her stick to a business schedule which achieves her personal AND business goals, while still supporting her customers.

Obligers Bosses

Obligers are wonderful bosses (and coaches) in terms of their human interaction and nurturing.

While can be great with people, they might struggle with business systems and/or management.

Because they put others first, other areas of their business suffer.

They may end up slashing prices, creating a pile of ‘personalised’ (= different) agreements or services that are unwieldy and inconsistent, not following procedures.

They tend to get on best with customers or staff who are like them – giving, reasonable, people-focused and flexible.

Obligers can be wonderful listeners and cheerleaders.

However, staff members or clients who are assertive and/or are Questioners or Rebels might feel very frustrated with the Obliger, who appears clingy or subservient in comparison to themselves.

In a coaching sense, a Obliger coach can build great rapport and relationship but might ‘judge’ or smother their client with sympathy (careful!) or compassion.

An Obliger coach might also leave the client unsatisfied through coaching without courage (e.g. unclear boundaries and goals, letting them off the hook, not enough exploratory questions).

Here’s an example of how an Obliger coach might feel when they run a coaching session.

Toni was worried about whether she would ask good coaching questions and give the client real value in the coaching session.

She spent the session alternating between listening, and working out where to use the questions she practiced.

She didn’t want to pressure the client to be specific with behavioural goals, so left them as fairly general.

At the end of the session, Toni wondered if it had been value for money for her client, who was still unmotivated.

What was the real outcome of that session, anyway? What had she really DONE for that client?

In a nutshell, overextending yourself for others is actually more about you (and your performance/worth) than about your client, and it makes for unclear boundaries and intangible outcomes.

The successful Obliger is the one who can set fair boundaries and focus on the client’s needs in a healthy (objective) way – by stepping back and acknowledging that the client is in charge of their own actions, decisions and outcomes.

Obliger Clients

Go gently

The greatest consideration for business owners is that they meet the needs of their Obliger clients in a healthy way.

Obligers will rarely complain – to your face.

They will more likely get upset (eventually) and then tell everyone else behind your back.

If you have Obliger clients, it’s important to notice them, listen carefully and reflect what you hear so that your customers feel heard, supported and cared for.

It was the start of another busy day and Jody noticed a new customer walk into her office, looking timid.

She buzzed around as she normally would called out ‘be with you soon!’

Then the phone rang, and Jody grabbed it, putting a finger up to the customer to wait a minute and she’d be there.

A moment later, Jody turned around and heard the door bells jingle as the lady left her office – who didn’t want to be any trouble to Jody who was obviously busy!

In the end,  Jody lost a customer who didn’t want to bother her or get in her way.

In this case, Jody could have walked over immediately and ignored the phone to make time for a genuine connection with this lady and ask a few questions about her needs.

Luckily, it takes a lot for Obligers to truly walk out on you – they will forgive you for many things before they reach Rebellion stage!

But expressing empathy and giving undivided attention will win the heart of your Obliger customer, and the little special touches will be very much valued and appreciated.

After all, it takes one to know one.

Do you have Questions?

Got questions about tendencies in business?

Want to know how to boost your business and overcome the  hurdles of an Obliger?

Get in touch and find out how you can optimise the way you work and get the most out of your tendency.

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The Four Tendencies – Questioners in Business

Questioners in Business | Melanie J White

Questioners in Business | Melanie J White

Before you read this post about Questioners in business – if haven’t yet heard of the Four Tendencies, I suggest you check out this quiz and Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Four Tendencies.

I love the Four Tendencies because I am curious about people, behaviour, and how different tendencies operate in different situations.

Recently, I’ve seen some interesting scenarios unfold with different tendencies in business, and that has prompted to write a series of articles – starting with Questioners in Business.

This blog outlines what makes questioners tick, and how they can get the best out of this tendency when running their business.

The Questioner

Let’s start with an overview of the type.

Gretchen defines a questioner as someone who:

questions rules and accepts them only if they make sense. They may choose to follow rules, or not, according to their judgment.”

In a nutshell, this is the person that always asks WHY. And then they want more information, so they as WHY again.

The questioner drills deeper and deeper into the why – how things work, why things work, and whether things are worthwhile.

In fact, the last point is the most important.

Questioners are internally-motivated, so they will only do, purchase or engage in something that seems justifiable, logical and reasonable to them.

They often operate from a value-based, integrity-based position, and value quality and high standards.

They are (usually) highly accountable to themselves and others.

They feel that in business, being transparent is a sign of honesty.

Does this sound like you, or someone you know?

The Questioners’ downfall is that they may question things so much – including themselves – that they get into analysis paralysis.

Questioners in Business

Efficient Systems Management

My opinion is that questioners may be the most successful of all types in the mechanics of running a business.

The questioner is someone who asks why they need each element of their business, resulting in ONLY practical, reasonable and effective policies, procedures and systems.

This means that daily operation of a business is quick, easy, simple and practical, with no time wasted on frivolous or useless things.

But things may not go smoothly for all Questioners.


Here’s a Questioner who gets bogged down in analysis paralysis, and it prevents her from growing her business:

Sue is sure that her business will be amazing once she has everything perfect.

She wants to set up some useful systems, but not being very tech-savvy, Sue questions every decision she makes.

That’s a long, laborious process.

So rather than move ahead in business, Sue often gets stuck in a quagmire of questions about software, whether to make videos or write blogs, which Facebook groups to be in.

She also gets side-tracked when writing and researching blogs, taking days to look up all sorts of references before finally condensing her blog into 6 pages of deep explanation.

Sue makes elaborate plans that are too overwhelming and detailed to action.

She struggles to write short, punchy marketing copy.

However, she’s very good at understanding her ideal client, because of her probing, curious and inquisitive nature.

She also understands that running a business can be multifaceted and complex.

With a little bit of help, Sue could move forward in leaps and bounds.

In this case, Sue could make big improvements by:

  • working on her perfectionist streak
  • developing a clear business plan with single, specific targets and due dates
  • deciding whether to do some training or to outsource certain tasks in her business, and
  • getting a business mentor or coach to keep her focused, on track and to help her make decisions.

Questioner Bosses

In many ways, Questioners make great leaders because they aren’t afraid to take risks and make tough decisions.

While can be great with business management and systems, they might struggle in their dealings with staff and/or clients.

Questioners are people who value integrity, quality, and are generally direct and fair.

They tend to get on best with customers or staff who value a “no-BS” approach with clear, non-negotiable boundaries.

However, staff members or clients who lacks self-confidence and/or are Obligers might really struggle with their direct, probing nature.

In a coaching sense, a Questioner coach might overwhelm and confront their client with too many questions, or too much deep probing.

Jade had a nervous tummy at the thought of attending her weekly meeting with her Questioner boss.

His questions made her feel like she’d done something wrong, or like he was watching her every move to catch her making a mistake.

Jade often prepared for these meetings by imagining all the possible scenarios that might come up, so she would be able to answer all those questions about her work.

In a nutshell, certain types of people might feel personally challenged by all those questions.

But really, those questions aren’t about them – it’s simply the Questioner seeking clarity, truth, continuous improvement, practicality and efficiency.

Questioner Clients

It’s not about you

As above, being questioned can be confronting or threatening for some business owners.

A Questioner customer who keeps asking ‘but why’ is simply attempting to understand something, or decide whether they should buy it, or understand something that isn’t working.

If you’re a sensitive business owner, or if you lack self-confidence, you might feel that your integrity or authority is being challenged by all those questions.

Sam was busy fixing Peter’s car and had put lots of effort into getting things just right.

So he felt pretty confronted when Peter started asking why he had done things a certain way, and why he had put certain parts in.

Same felt like he was being made to justify everything he’d done, and that Peter didn’t trust him.

To top it all off, Peter got upset when he found out that Sam hadn’t rotated the tyres.

Sam had felt it wasn’t necessary and wanted to save Peter some money, so he didn’t do it.

In the end,  Peter was irritated because he felt he was being fobbed off, and treated like an idiot.

In this case, Sam could have diverted a bunch of angst by calling Peter to talk about the need for tyre rotation or not, and to simply and patiently answer Sam’s questions.

Luckily, most of the time, all those Questions are NOT about you.

It’s simply the Questioner trying to satisfy their own curiosity about something!

You can simply relax and let the person know you will do all you can to help them and/or understand their queries.

That sort of approach will build far better relationships with Questioner customers, than becoming reactive and defensive.

Or, you can simply make a decision not to have a Questioner as a client.


Do YOU have Questions?

Got questions about tendencies in business?

Get in touch and find out how you can optimise the way you work and get the most out of your tendency.

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Why Do We Expect So Much of Ourselves?

Why do we expect so much of ourselves?

Why do we expect so much of ourselves?

Why do we expect so much of ourselves in our business and life?

Sure, running your own business is a fulfilling and freeing, and a precious journey of adventure.

You bring your strength, courage, confidence into the world, writing your own rules, and creating success on your terms.

Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?

Time and again, I see entrepreneurial coaches starting out but being crippled by their drive for achievement with perhaps a twist of perfectionism.

Don’t get me wrong, being achievement focused and wanting to do things right are important for your success…but only to a point.

It requires perspective and insight to make them work for you, rather than against you.

Here’s how to get it right…but first, some background.

How Expectations Work

Expectations are the conditions you place on yourself and others.

And as much as you set expectations, you also respond to expectations.

This is where things get tricky – because in business, you have your own expectations and also, those of your clients to fulfill.

How can you juggle both and get it right?

How You Set Expectations


When Monday rolls around, what expectations do you set for the week, and each day? And how do your expectations for business and your personal life compare?

Most entrepreneurial coaches I know want to get everything on their list finished each week.

That works well if the list is short.

But achievement-focused people tend to want to conquer Rome, by yesterday.

This is where the panic, overwhelm and brain fog kick in (and sometimes melt-downs, ‘what ifs’ and plaintive WHYS).

The reason is simple – with all that focus on work achievements, there’s no time left to meet your personal needs or for that magical thinking time (“sharpening the saw”) where creative ideas and initiatives come from.

If you’re a health and wellness coach, you may see this same behaviour in your clients at goal-setting time:

  • They set a goal to exercise 6 days per week, then only achieve 3 days and feel miserable and defeated, OR
  • They set a goal to exercise 1 day per week, then achieve 3 days, and feel on top of the world.

The achievement in either case is the same – the only difference is the expectation and the mindset that it creates.

And therein lies the solution. When it comes to setting expectations, start small.

I created a rule for myself that I would aim to achieve 3 things per week.

Those 3 things are articulated very specifically and have blocked off time scheduled in for me to complete them.

That liberates me mentally to make time for achieving in my personal life, and makes for a balanced life that feels successful.

How You Respond to Expectations

Setting your own expectations aside, it’s worth mentioning that how you respond to others’ expectations is also a defining factor in your business success.

New York Times best selling author Gretchen Rubin has determined that people have an inherent tendency to set and respond to inner and outer expectations in one of four ways.

Two of these tendency types always seem to put others first at their own expense.

If you are an Obliger or Upholder (equating to about 64% of the population), chances are you are driven to help, please, service or support other people more than yourself.

This means your stuff gets shunted to the end of the pile and may never get done.

Of course, that can seriously hamper your ability to run a business – you have no time left for essential work ON your business (non-client time) and it may also mean you have trouble asking for money.

One of the most effective ways to manage your response to expectations better is to allot specific days and times to help/support/service others. That is, you set boundaries.

It might mean that you only see clients from Monday to Thursday, 11am – 4pm.

It might mean that you only take a certain number of clients each week.

It might mean that you have set catch up times with friends/family.

Summing it up

Expectations can help you stay on track or they can drain you.

If you are achievement-focused, then you may tend to overwhelm yourself with work and other commitments at the expense of your personal life or strategic business tasks.

Try setting the bar lower and celebrating your success.

If you are someone who routinely puts others first to your own detriment, experimenting with boundaries will help you put the time you need into the business and life you want.

Try scheduling set days/times for clients, friends and yourself.

I’d love to know how you are navigating this

Are you struggling with expectations?

Contact me if you’d like to have a 15-minute conversation about switching things around.

Contact Melanie White