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Dealing with Overwhelm

Updated: Oct 20, 2022

I know how overwhelm happens and the anxiety that often accompanies it. We see someone who seems to have it all together, and we question how in the world will we ever get there.

If you find yourself overwhelmed, stop. Ask yourself: Are you a victim of your own goals?

Let’s be clear, goals are great. Writing goals are amazing. They are motivating. They get us to that next level in the publications/ dissertation / job market life. What they should not be is IMPOSSIBLE TO REACH.

Too often we double-down on goals that just don’t make sense. Have you ever told yourself that you are going to read 200 pages of that book on Tuesday that Reviewer 2 told you that you needed in your article? What happened?

Maybe you read 200 pages in one day and were completely exhausted and didn’t feel like working the next day. Or maybe you avoided that book like the plague, cleaned your apartment, tried to make homemade yogurt, whatever.

Chances are if you are an academic and you didn’t meet that goal, you told yourself: “Hey, that’s okay! I will read 400 pages tomorrow.”


Too often we are overwhelmed because we let these impossible goals snowball. What happens on day 5 and you haven’t read a word? Usually we would just beat ourselves up. Wonder what is WRONG with us. Professor Blue must not struggle like this......

Repeat after me: goals should motivate us. They are not a punishment.


If you didn’t hit your goal, how about instead of doubling-down, we cut it in half? Then, we celebrated for getting it done (No. You do not keep reading past your goal, overachiever!).

Now imagine approaching your next reading or writing session from THAT place. From a place where you get shit done. From a place where your feel competent, confident, even excited?

So, here’s the plan. If you are overwhelmed, take a step back. If you are months behind on a writing project, don’t say you will chain yourself to your laptop for 9 straight hours or else.

Set a goal to sit with your project for 15 minutes and make a list of what you would like to write. Or maybe you brainstorm about your argument. Or you can do a database search for recent book reviews in your field. Whatever it is, make it fun. Brew a cup of your favorite tea. Sit by a nice window if that’s your jam.

Just 15 minutes. That’s it. Make it an easy win. And then celebrate!

No matter how far behind you are or how overwhelmed you are, you can celebrate those 15 focused, enjoyable minutes.

And you can remember what it feels like to have a positive feeling about your writing. It is soooooo much harder to do this work from a place of doubt, shame, guilt, or anxiety. So, time to try a different approach.

Remember to follow me on instagram @dr_saggese if you want more tips. And if you would like some help moving through the overwhelm, sign up today for a Visioning Session and with me to work one-on-one. I guarantee that you can do this. Forza!

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