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    How to Avoid Stress While Leading an Overwhelming Project


    Whew. What a wedding planning process. Now that I’m officially hitched and have free time again (yes!), I’m back at the blog! Perhaps you have your own large project at home, work, for your family, or a big vacation planned that is consuming all of your free time, your last bit of energy, and is spinning your healthy daily routine into a tizzy. I hear you. Our wedding engagement was 2 years long, so I had a lot of “opportunities to communicate” over little details that caused significant stress in our lives. Here are the 8 ways I learned how to identify, problem solve, and dissolve significantly stressful moments during my wedding planning journey. Hopefully these can help you alleviate some of the stress that comes with taking the lead on a large, daunting project yourself.

    Set Realistic Expectations

    Setting realistic expectations is huge when it comes to big projects. If you think that the entire project is going to be flawless and perfect and without any stress (…guilty!), I recommend giving yourself some pause. This is an unrealistic expectation.

    There are so many factors outside of your control when the project entails coordination with many people. Despite thinking you’re in control, that is almost certainly not the case. Prepare yourself right out of the gate that it’s not going to be perfect, that there will be times when you have stress, and that it’s OKAY. Mind your mood, and practice the following steps to help alleviate your stress.

    Take The Lead On A Few Things That Are Most Important To You

    Identify a few things that are most important to you, and clearly communicate that you are going to take the lead on them. Make it clear to the other people involved in this project that those are your project(s), you’re the leader, and you’re going to take care of all of the nitty gritty details. Caution! Don’t try to take the lead on everything. If you try to do that, you’re going to exhaust yourself.

    One example I like to use is this: planning a large project is like playing a game of soccer. You’re the Captain of your soccer team, but you’re also one player on a team of 11. If you try to take the lead on every little project – if you try to be every player on your team – you’re going to exhaust yourself. When you’re playing offense, defense, midfield and goalkeeper… obviously that’s exhausting and you’ll completely fizzle out. Chances are high that you’ll cost your team a loss because you’ve now turned a game of 11 vs 11 into a game of 1 vs 11.

    Delegate Duties and Set a Timeframe Goal

    Be a team player and delegate to other people. With that said, be selective of what duties you’d like delegated to others so that you can continue to prioritize your top most important project(s). 

    Delegating duties to others is very important. Take some time to reflect on, and understand, who you’re delegating to. Have you asked them if they even want to help? Do they enjoy certain projects? Are they good at particular things that compliment their strengths? 

    When it comes to delegation, be clear on the ultimate outcome of how you want that project to turn out. If the overall quality is most important to you, be clear with them on that. If you’re trying to have something look a certain way or keep the project within a certain budget, mention that as being the ultimate end-goal so everyone is on the same page.


    Avoid Micromanagement

    After the other person accepts the project you’d like them spearhead, be sure to set a timeframe goal. Plot out a few checkpoints along the way to ensure everyone is on track. And most importantly, be sure you are not micromanaging them. Allow them the opportunity to have accountability and autonomy, and let them ENJOY taking the lead on the project. They’ll appreciate feeling like they’re helping and that they’re equal teammates on your team.

    Confide In a Non-Judgmental Friend or Family Member to Offload Stress

    When you do feel like your stress is becoming overwhelming, make sure you have someone -whether a friend or family member- that you can confide in. Be very selective in whom you choose. When you reach out to a non-judgmental friend, let them know that you need to vent and that you may not actually want their advice. You may just need a safe sounding board or reassurance that everything is going to work out and things will get better moving forward. Clearly communicate what you need (or don’t need) from that person, and then let it all out.

    Build In A Small Healthy Routine

    A great way to relieve some stress is to create and maintain a healthy routine. Now… I get it. This may seem overwhelming because you already have a lot on your plate. How can you add one more thing to an already busy schedule without completely exhausting yourself?!

    First, start by giving yourself forgiveness. If you don’t get a chance to go to the gym or eat perfectly healthy every single day, that’s OKAY! While you’re planning your big project, it’s important to carve out a few minutes to plan a healthy routine.

    I did everything I could to build in movement every day. I enlisted the help of friends to keep me accountable with regular workout classes at the gym after work most days. On evenings where I had wedding obligations, I allowed myself to be okay with not exercising. However, I increased my efforts of non-sedentary behavior throughout my day to ensure I was doing something intentional. I walked more, took the stairs over the elevator, and cut back on my snacking.

    One little habit I started doing that I really enjoyed was 50 push-ups every single night before showering. I knew that the push-ups would make me sweat, which was why it was perfectly timed pre-shower. Granted, I wasn’t doing 50 push-ups on my toes the entire time, but I got down on my knees and didn’t stop until every single push-up was completed. Consistency became my friend and my push-up routine became something I didn’t want to break each day. This was a great way to get a full upper-body workout in that made me feel like I was doing something on days when I really didn’t have that much time to go to the gym.

    Dedicate One Evening A Week To Unplug And Not Talk About Your Project

    Yes. Unplug. 

    It’s so easy to always be on your phone, texting, checking emails, browsing social media, Facetiming etc. I found it to be extremely refreshing to just have one night in the week where I told everyone I was unplugging. You know what it’s called? Prioritizing yourself, and putting yourself first!

    Whatever issues or tasks that were pending had to wait until the following morning. I loved having a moment in the week to not think about our wedding and to not talk about it for a few hours. It is just so important to give yourself a break!

    Recognize That This Is Temporary

    At the end of the day, when stress is overwhelming and you’re having many “opportunities to communicate” with certain people in your life on your project… just recognize that this isn’t who you are. This isn’t who they are. This is temporary. And this is a result of a stressful and overwhelming project. 

    This will pass. We just have to put our heads down, buckle down, and get it done. It’s going to cause you stress and anxiety and it’s going to feel overwhelming… but it’s temporary. The end result is going to be so much more rewarding than the process. 

    Not for nothing- a lot of the people who will be enjoying the fruits of your labor won’t even notice the details you may be stressing over! Regain perspective by zooming out as much as you can. What’s the big picture? What are the key take away points that I want my guests to experience? Get out of the weeds, get out of your rabbit hole, and get out of the stressful details. 

    All In All…

    The wedding planning process for me was very stressful despite thinking at the very beginning that it was all in my control and everything was going to be a piece of cake. Learn from my mistakes and remember to set realistic expectations with whatever big project you’re planning on taking the lead with. It’s not going to be perfect. Actually, expect mistakes or stressful moments to pop up throughout the entire process to keep perspective.

    Spearhead a few things on your own, delegate appropriately to other people, and set some benchmarks along the way to check their progress without micromanaging.

    When you need an outlet, find the right person to vent to. Try to build in consistent small habits of eating clean foods, avoiding sedentary behavior and making sure you’re setting an alarm for solid nights of sleep. Recognize that this is temporary phase of your life and spend some time with just yourself- completely unplugged from blue screens and disconnected from your project altogether. If you practice all of these things, I promise the experience will be a lot less stressful and you may find yourself starting to actually enjoy the planning process!

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  • Reply Matthew Hutchison August 2019 at 7:26 PM

    Makes me feel relieved I got married in front of my Christmas tree with my with 6 guests in attendance and one of them being my cat. Much easier planning. Super valuable, thanks a ton!

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