Got a Bad Case of Information Overload? How to stay on your path.

The Scream, Edvard Munch Good news! There’s a ton of information and resources at our fingertips in 2009.

Oh no! There’s such an annoying ton of information and resources attacking us in 2009.

I remember feeling this way when the Web first came on the popular scene in the mid-90s.

There was so much information and stuff out there on the Web. Yay! But again, there was so much information and stuff on the Web. Overload Waaah!

So here some of us are again. Maybe out of a job or thinking of doing that business we’ve always thought about since the working world is sucky right now. Which means, trying to learn about social networking and chasing down the scent of new opportunities that suit our talents.

Enter: Twitter, Facebook, blogging, WordPress, LinkedIn, widgets, and so forth.

People who are mastering these content and networking projects and folding them into their consulting/coaching/writing businesses are doing really well, too.

So, to enter this world as a relative outsider and learn about it all and jump in and do a little tweet here, a little profile-updating there, status report here, re-tweeting there. There may be a euphoric jump and getting it, and then—

A friend sends me an email with the subject line: “This should help.” It’s an article that takes some new spin on what social networking, especially Twitter, will do for me. I’m already having a hard enough time keeping my song going in the Twitter tree. But the thing is, I’m staying in the tree, singing my occasional song or duet.

And then something, like the “This should help” email is just one piece of information too much and I want to run under the covers. Or call the Waaambulance.

Information overload. It descends, or hits you from all sides or falls out of the sky like a scattering of rain and hail and shoes and buttons and gold coins falling all around you in a bunch of tangled heaps.

Great. What on earth are you supposed to do with that? Or, maybe it’s:

Now, how do I apply my information and learnings and all this new stuff?

Let’s consider how some people may fare in this new media world:

Some people just won’t go there. They don’t really need to, they’re not curious and they don’t want the floodgates unleashing the roaring messy river.

Others will tip toe in and then hit a What-the-F wall and fall out of the learning and involvement of the new social media Web 2.0 world. Which is what I am tempted to do, and often.

How about a success strategy: Tell yourself you’re in brainstorming and information-gathering mode. It’s the playing phase. And if you are trying to take action and write definitive business and marketing plans before you know exactly what your products, services and perfect customers all are—before you’ve adequately completed your info-gathering, creative brainstorming phase—your mind-body-soul is likely to go into a very uncomfortable state.*

So today’s best question might be: Why do I feel this info overload state of overwhelm that makes me crave dark rooms and thick bed covers?

Possible best answer: I could be pushing myself to the next state of action-taking that I—and my budding biz idea—are not quite ready for. So, consider staying in the discovery playfield while typing up parts of a biz plan here and there or keeping a document called Great Ideas.

So for any of us who are wading into the social media and new biz waters and feel like it’s all TOO MUCH, consider this:

1. It is a lot. All this information and changing our ways of communicating and all the expert opinions. Take a deep breath. Stick with what you’re doing, you’ll learn what you need to know and implement in good time, as it fits your pace and needs.

2. As you continue on with the research and dipping yourself in new knowledge and discoveries—as you move closer to creating something new and wonderful for yourself, your commitment will waver. This is the time when No’s and inner Gollums and nasty voices come in. That’s their job and they yell louder and get nastier the closer you get to the juicy good stuff. (One of my recent ones was “You’ll never make it.” It was mean and chilling and seductive. Shudders. It made me cry! And then I gave it the finger, called it a liar and moved on.)

Trudge past the gremlin voices. Be the strong and creative and curious person who stays on your path. Get your fans and cheerleaders around you.

In time, you can be one of the clever minxes offering services to others who will need to pay you good money for your expertise. You will be offering your talent, gift, amazing knowledge base and working with others in a way that might even fall under Dream Job I Never Dared Make Happen. And working with a dream list of clients because you spent time shrieking through all that information and research and overloading that made it possible for you to find your distinct message and business offering.

If you stay the course while others fall off course and maybe get back on again, while you stayed the course--you will be ahead of the game.

Trust your path, your pace and your curiosities. Indulge them.

And now, let’s end with a quote:

“Trust yourself. Then you will know how to live.” -- Goethe

*This post was inspired by a group coaching call from Pamela Slim at Escape From Cubicle Nation. I recommend her Coaching gym.