Overwhelm….and the 90 Day Year


Looking for Todds 90DY videos and don’t want to scroll (links at bottom too)?

OW vs WOW Video  –  90 Day Engine Video  –  8 Phase Plan video  –  His field reports page


I had a melt down. In my therapists office.

Usually I arrive on time, ready to do some head work, explore my feelings, etc. But this Monday I walked in, sat down, and cried for about 50 minutes. The last 15 months I have had this interesting relationship with the concept of “overwhelm”. Everyone says starting a business is hard, that you will work a lot, and they are right. But it’s uncommon for people to really get down and nitty gritty with what happens when you have had too much. Well, let me tell you. For me, it starts with zero productivity. I will sit there just staring at things. My eyes glaze over, and then I feel anxiety or like my body is humming. I described it the other day as the bottom of a square. Then the waterworks. Tears, lots of tears. And picking fights with people, and reclusiveness, and a huge feeling of aloneness.

So, as I explore my relationship with overwhelm I start to see some trends, thank you therapy. First off, and thanks to my amazing soul sister and bizznass mentor Katie Den Ouden, she straight up told me my overwhelm is what I say I feel when I feel like shit and I don’t know why. When there is too much and I’m stuck and I can’t figure it all out…I call that overwhelm. It’s a placeholder for deeper under the surface crapola.

So, what’s under there….

1st – The first is my perfectionist gene.

This is a gene that we work on a lot in therapy. I grew up thinking that if I got perfect grades, ran fast, and was the daughter all my parents friends wished they had, that nobody would find fault with me. Nobody could criticize or put me down. Do you know me, have you met me? I’m nice as shit. I really am. I have like a huge page full of testimonials to prove it. And I care deeply about people. But to be honest, there is inner nice (me sometimes), and there is nice due to the fear of people seeing you as “not nice” (or as an elitist….a huge hot button for me). They are two different things. One is a hustle for approval (I call her the nice-hustler), the other is integrity (inner nice).

Of course when I’m nice or in nice-hustler mode, I still get criticism, and that can really feed the perfectionist in me. To this day, when I get feedback and criticism I respond in one of two ways….I let it go with compassion (inner nice girl coming out) or I tell myself I need to be more perfect (nice-hustler mode). And the truth is, all that feedback and criticism is actually kinda bull shit.

“Feedback and criticism doesn’t tell you about you, it tells you about the person giving the feedback”  -Tara Mohr

(PS This quote works for positive feedback too…it’s not really about me, more about what the person giving the praise values, you can read more in Taras book: Playing Big)

So I know all this in my noggin’, but when when I’m stressed it’s like my autopilot turns on, and I go right there, the hustle for nice comes out. Remember how sometimes the car just drives itself home when you are headed to Target…. like that!

When I have many things on my plate (as we all do) but I don’t move them off my plate because I am trying to man-handle the results (wrestle a large bear….the Revenant comes to mind) then OVERWHELM is the answer.

to move past it…. I have to repeat over and over

  1. “Punt that shit” <— a quote from my assistant which means ask others to do stuff for you, get tasks off your plate. Because the deep inner me values people and their contributions. The minute I hand something off to someone else I tend to love what they do with it. I love people, I love how they make things their own.

  2. “Perfect is the enemy of good”  <— truth bomb… repeat… repeat… repeat

2nd – Under there is my big fatty FEAR friend.

Ahh, I hate my darn fear friend. Here’s what my fear friend likes to scream “YOU ARE YOUR RESULTS” and he looks like this:

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(When I was little I called this guy the CREDIBLE hulk…..haha, makes me laugh every time)

I’m wicked afraid of failure. I think we all are to some extent, in our own way, kinda hard-wired for it, ya know? My major fear around failure is that of abandonment. I’m afraid if I don’t train my coach won’t want to work with me, if I fail as a coach my athletes will leave, if I fail as a business women both my athletes and my assistant coaches will leave, if I fail as a wife my husband will leave, or if I fail as a parent my daughter will leave me. Abandonment is a big one with me and so often when I am screaming “OVERWHELM” the deeper thing under the surface is that I think if I don’t do everything on my to do list I will let people down, and they will leave me. I attach results to relationships. And again, my brain knows thats dumb. My brain knows that relationships are built on how you treat people, your integrity, your ability to relate, etc. But as stress creeps up, and I want to let go of half the tasks in my life, and the first thing my brain screams is “The people…they will leave.”

The result is that in times of overwhelm I often neglect myself, feel like a slave to business, slave to training, slave to household chores, slave to others. Thank you big fatty FEAR friend.

(asshole)

To move past it….this is what I gotta throw down:

  1. “You are responsible for your results, but you are not them”  <— I remind myself I am responsible, I have power in this situation, they are not me, they are outcomes.

  2. “Put your oxygen mask on first” <— people can read self sacrifice on you in 2 seconds flat. We teach people how to treat us. bottom line.

3rd – I let my systems wall get breeched.

We all have systems in life. Routines, systems, trends, whatever… For a long time I was a self proclaimed hater of habit. Bleh. But what I have come to understand is that you have to be a hater of habit when you are in the mode of attending to everyone else’s needs before your own. They say business is the fastest path to self discovery, and it’s true, I’ve learned more about myself in the last 15 months than I had in eight years of triathlon. I realized very quickly that I needed systems in place to run a successful business, I learned that in month 3. I never even thought that way about the rest of my life because I spent it being an integral part of other peoples efficient systems. So I researched some systems, I picked one, and I threw myself head first into it.

In comes Todd Herman and the 90 day year.

I put his systems in place in my business, and then my training and home life got wrapped into it as well. Overwhelm comes up when I think  I’m good enough to leave the system. If I simply wake up, meditate, eat, plan my day, block and tackle, prioritize tasks, do the hard stuff first, and run on 90 day year cycle I have set up for myself via the 90DY, I chug chug chug away at life, training, business, etc. and overwhelm isn’t a part of my life. When my systems get breeched…  I get overwhelmed and then #1 and #2 start directing the lifetime mini-series. “Sonja…overwhelmed to death…. my life as a Lifetime movie”

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Todd is in the middle of his big June launch. He’s actually sharing so much of his content that I had to pay to see a year ago. I can’t imagine what he’s creating for us after the doors close, since he has already made public so much of what contributes to my current systems. Excite. If you want to watch, here:

OW vs WOW Video

90 Day Engine Video

8 Phase Plan video

His field reports page

I run my life, training, business, etc on 90 day cycles now. I even put together the most BADASS planner for myself to help. Todd’s work on “context switching” is one of the most rockin’ business educational pieces I have ever received. In July I head to New York City to work in a small group with Todd for 24 hours. It’s a different kind of endurance event!

So, what landed me crying in my therapist on Monday? I had let my systems go for a few days, was winging it, and running after all the little to dos in life. I was letting the finer details scream at my perfectionist gene and I was contemplating dropping out of my races this year because I don’t have time to train 25-30 hours a week any more. Seems silly when I write it, but when my fear and perfectionist minds are barking their heads off AND I ditch my systems, this is what results. At the end of that session we had quieted the perfection brain, it was already lighting up with things that I needed to punt and hadn’t. My fear brain was reminded of the very recent talk with Coach Muddy and how our relationship is more than coach athlete at this point. He’s a father figure, and a mentor whom I can lean on regardless of training hours.

And I came home, logged in to Trello (I heart you Trello) reprioritized my control panel (death to the to do list….I work with a control panel these days) and I got the heck on with things.

It’s not about the falling down, we are all falling down often, it’s about having the quickest and most efficient method to get back up. The fall is inevitable, but learning how to limit the time you are laying on the floor…that’s the secret sauce…

I’m a triathlete/entrepreneur…who knew?

Wow, what I ride I’ve been on this last year. So this triathlon blog has really taken a hit these last few years. It started as a mommy blog, then took a left turn into triathlon land, and Ironman! I think I said pretty much all there is to say about triathlon/Ironman over the years, maybe there are a few more nuggets in there that I can continue to explore, but yet again I find that my life has taken a turn.

I started a business a year ago! YAY Business! After 2014 and 2nd in Kona, Coach Muddy and I agreed that 2015 would be a no Kona year. I had been pushing my body really hard for 5 years and it was time for a break if we were going to go for the top spot on the podium.

The problem is, I don’t really know what a break is. I didn’t realize it at the time, that I was actually incapable of a true “break.” I heard “break” and thought about all the things on my bucket list that weren’t an option when I was chasing Kona. The first thing was starting an official coaching business. I actually wanted to start a business that built a mental skills training program (which I will do soon as part of RTTC), but as with business, ideas morph and change, they grow and double, and intertwine.

There were also things like Norseman and more 100 mile run races on the list too. I didn’t even dare ask muddy about a 100 miler! haha! I checked off Norseman last year, it was a wild experience, as you might have read about here. I had a magical day at Ironman Lake Tahoe and an awesome sufferfest at Ironman Los Cabos. All really cool experiences on less training than I was used to (but apparently enough..who knew?). I really had to rely on my wisdom!

I got a few of those bucket list items checked off, but really, something else emerged, a passion, a passion for business… yea, it shocked me too! I don’t have a single entrepreneur in my family that I know of. I come from a long line of people with jobs. Educations, and jobs. Not businesses. I had no idea what I was doing.

Starting a business has been a challenge like nothing I have ever been through, in the best of ways. Granted, I have gained some weight (insulation) and a year later I’m just now starting to get a handle on how to train and be an entrepreneur at the same time (a true lesson in self compassion) but wow have I learned so much, and here’s what I realized… I love business! I really love the business aspect of the coaching world. I love interacting with other business owners, especially in the coaching space (whether it’s life coaching, nutrition coaching, or sports coaching) and I really enjoy Vanilla Flavored Tootsie Rolls putting the pieces of a new business together (sorry, my mind wandered there…squirrel…), the products, the systems, the social media, the value adds, all that wild stuff.

So I look at this blog and I think…. does anyone want to hear about the triathlete turned entrepreneur? Are there other triathlete/entrepreneurs out there who are juggling similar balls? (Where are you friends, I need you) Are they still training at a high level? Most people I have talked to say it’s not really possible, but I’ve never listened to the “not possibles.” I love this sport so much and really don’t want it to take a back seat in my life.

Another thing I know, my new coaching company Rising Tide Triathlon Coaching, has the best atheltes. Sorry folks, it’s true, in one short year this tribe has amazed the heck out of me. And when I sit back and think that it wouldn’t actually be a TRIBE if I hadn’t stepped off the safe and manageable ledge, I get pretty proud. As I step more and more out of a one on one coaching and move into creating systems and training for new atheltes and new coaches the RTTC atheltes have supported our wonky little business (not actually wonky or little) tirelessly. Have I been in over my head at times? Absolutely. Have I worked my way out of it? Every Time! Yes, I pulled some all nighters, and yes I crashed two computers along the way, but hey, go big or go home!

So, if you all are game (and if not, you can just quietly float on to the next blog) for me transitioning this blog as my life has yet again transitioned, well, I would like to continue being vulnerable out there on the internet…and continue telling it like it really is. After all, I have always had the heart of a teacher, and there is just too many great ahh-hahs these days that I want to share.

One year in this business and here’s what I can say. This shit is hard, it’s really hard, and just like training for an Ironman, it’s really awesome too. The work is never ending, it requires a boatload of ACTION. Unlike training for Ironman where you go do the workouts on the training plan and then you are DONE, and can go relax, in business the workouts never end! You have to chunk it up for yourself, and that’s HARD!

I hope this blog can still provide some laughs and maybe some poop stories too…you all seem to love those! I’m headed back to Kona again this year, and I honestly have NO IDEA how I’m going to get in good enough shape to compete there, but I will tell you this, I have faith.

Faith in myself, faith in my tribe and my support network, and faith that I can figure shit out. I’m still learning, and I know that this year will deliver some hefty lessons (I’m going to fall on my face more than a few times), but I’m more excited and alive than I have ever been!

Onwards…

P.S. Why oh why do we not have a female triathlon coaches symposium, or association, or at least a flipping webinar series?? Am I right?