What Should You Do When You Feel Overwhelmed or Unfocused? Best Quotes from Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferriss

What should you do when you feel overwhelmed or unfocused?  That’s one of the questions The New York Times best selling author Tim Ferriss asked to more than 100 successful people to help him and us navigate life in his new book ‘Tribe of Mentors’.

One of the biggest things holding people back is not our physical potential, our intelligence or ability to learn new skills but how we handle stress and feeling overwhelmed.  If we can understand ourselves a little better and try have a clearer, more focused mind we can achieve much bigger things in life.

Here are some of the best quotes from ‘Tribe of Mentors’ answering the question ‘What should you do when you feel overwhelmed or unfocused?’

“I seek out people to help me regain my focus, my confidence, and my clarity.  I live my life in a network of friends, family, colleagues, strangers, mentors, and students.  When I get overwhelmed, I lose a sense of direction, and I need a human GPS to help me “recalculate” and find my path..

.In moments you don’t believe in yourself, you need other people who believe in you.  They can hold you up when you falter and keep you from hitting the ground.  Other people see you differently from the way you see yourself.  And that multiplicity of perspectives is essential to making us who we are.  Identity is always a two-way street – created from the inside out and the outside in..

Many people feel that when they are overwhelmed or lose focus, they need to retreat into themselves and shut out the world…that doesn’t work for me.” ~ Esther Perel, author

“Take a walk or run.  Have sex.  Or eat.  Then I make lists.”

“Take a walk or run.  Have sex.  Or eat.  Then I make lists.  Generally the cure for feeling overwhelmed is getting to a state of appreciation.  Walking helps you appreciate oxygen, health, life.  Sex…I mean, come on, it’s sex.  Food is really just to make sure that you aren’t hangry.  And making lists brings organization to the chaos and generally turns big things into little actionable things.” ~ Ashton Kutcher, actor, investor and entrepreneur.

“I give myself a day off…with permission to not think about wherever I’m failing.  That day usually includes some sort of strenuous activity and re-watching at least one of my favourite films…I instinctively hate the gym, but it’s both necessary and valuable as a way for me to keep fit and lose myself in physical pain as a distraction from the emotional pain that comes with being overwhelmed and unfocused.” ~ Franklin Leonard, creator of Hollywood screenplay database “The Black List”

“First I yell “F*CK!” as loud as I can!”

“First I yell “F*CK!” as loud as I can!  Then I compartmentalize and DIN and PIN (do it now, do it proper).  I also go to the gym to disappear into my alone time, to allow myself to self-analyse and decompress by removing the stress of the moment and day.  When I am on my ranch, long trail rides on my horse, Duke, are also very cathartic, as nature is a great therapist.” ~ Greg Norman aka Great White Shark, professional golfer

“I sleep…There’s no conundrum that a 20 minute nap can’t help me unpack.  It’s like a refresh button for my mind.  I wake up clearer and more able to make the gut decision because I’ve stopped thinking.  Whatever I’m feeling when I wake up is the decision I go forward with.” ~ Bozoma Saint John, Chief Brand Officer at Uber

“Sometimes I look to the cold for remedy: a walk in the crisp air, a cold drink, a shower.  If it’s exhaustion I’ll take a nap, or meditate” ~ Jesse Williams, Actor

“anything healthy that gets you out of your mind and into your body is ultimately  good for your mind.”

“…stepping away from work for anything from a cold shower to a surf to meditation to a breathing exercise outside to talking with someone I immensely enjoy….anything healthy that gets you out of your mind and into your body is ultimately  good for your mind.” ~ Neil Strauss, author.

“I change my physiology.  If I am near waves, I go surf them.  If not, a short, intense kettlebell workout, a bike ride, a swim, a cold shower or ice plunge….it’s remarkable how the mind follows the body.” ~ Josh Waitzkin, author

“I go for a walk.  Preferably on a route I’ve never taken before….I focus outward and my mind clears up quickly…nothing refreshes me like walking in a new direction, towards something or somewhere I haven’t headed before.”~ Jason Fried, co-founder and CEO of Basecamp

“I pretend that my family has died in a horrific accident…it’s what drives me.  I go to a very dark place, really feel it, feel that pain in my heart, and realize that no matter what I’m dealing with right now, that it’s not even in the same universe of something like that.  Then I become grateful for losing that client, missing that opportunity, getting made fun of etc.”~ Gary Vaynerchuk, serial entrepreneur and CEO of Vaynermedia

“I try to stay centered, focus on myself and remember why I do this in the first place.”

“Hold tight, focus the effort, dig deeper, and never give up.  It isn’t rocket science but it is hard, as most people, when it gets tough, start to look around for an excuse or a different tactic….the magic bit is that when it gets like this it often means you are near the end goal.  One big heave of focus, dedication and grit, and you often pop out the other end.  Look around you though and you see that most people are gone – they gave up that final bit of hurting.” ~ Bear Grylls, outdoor survival expert and author

“Ask, what is the worst thing that can happen?  Fear of the unknown is generally far worse than fear of something specific.  If it’s not the death of yourself or someone you’re responsible for there’s probably some reasonable set of options you should consider calmly and thoughtfully.” ~ Esther Dyson, founder of HICCup

“It’s essential to identify the root cause of that lost focus – am I just having a bad day, or is the task itself something I simply hate doing?  If it’s clearly the former and time pressures allow, I’m a big fan of just packing it in and doing something more fun until my focus comes back, even if it’s not until the next day.  If it’s the latter, it’s probably relevant to investigate why I’m feeling so unmotivated….if I decide the payoff is still worth it, then the motivation will be more likely to come back by itself.” ~ Liv Boeree, poker player, TV presenter and writer.

“I try to stay centered, focus on myself and remember why I do this in the first place.  My favourite quote is “Somewhere behind the athlete you’ve become, and the hours of practice, and the coaches who have pushed you, is a little girl who fell in love with the game and never looked back….play for her.” ~ Annie Mist Porisdottir, Crossfit athlete

“Over the long term, what really matters to you?”

“One, I usually go for a walk, and two, I try to write down everything that’s going on, so I can get it out of my head and look at it.  Sometimes your brain gets caught in little loops, and it’s not making any progress.  For me, it’s helpful to write everything down and visually reflect on what’s important……there’s something to be learned from the way that companies set goals on different time resolutions:  what matters this week, this month, this year, in ten years…I think people usually end up losing it when they let short-term things crowd out what they want to take care of in the medium or long term.  Over the long term, what really matters to you?  If you answer that, you can reverse-engineer toward that end.” ~ Ben Silbermann, co-founder and CEO of Pinterest.

There are many, many more helpful pieces of advice from many more successful, interesting people in ‘Tribe of Mentors’ but these quotes seemed to stand out the most.

One trend that seems to stand out is that in order to stop feeling overwhelmed and unfocused, you need to take a break and either take part in some physical activity, or re-organize yourself.  No matter what stage of your life you’re in, or whatever goals you’re striving to achieve you can always feel overwhelmed and feel like things aren’t going to plan.  Tribe of Mentors shows you that even the best in the world have the same struggles as the rest of us, the key to success is how you handle it.

Tim Ferriss also asks what advice they would give to smart college student about to enter the real world, how has failure helped you succeed, and what new beliefs or habits have greatly influenced your life.  Tribe of Mentors is packed full of useful advice, we fully recommend you give it a read.