Noise. So much noise.
I had a conversation with someone last week that summed up how I have been feeling as well. She’s working toward some specific goals and finding that everywhere she turns, there’s advice, and “this is what you should do”, and more advice. And then, of course, the internet just knows—knows that you had a thought about that thing—and now, every single ad will be about that thing. So, not only was she getting the information noise, but the ad noise too. All of the noise was just getting overwhelming and she was struggling to make a decision, decide on a direction, and do something.
The noise can be overwhelming in our lives sometimes. Whether it’s looking for answers or advice on the internet or asking friends for advice, there’s so much of it out there. Writers can find 13,976 books and articles on establishing a writing practice or how to write faster or how to market your book.
And, you know what? That advice will be helpful for some people. The catch is that it probably won’t be as helpful for the rest of us. That’s when it turns to noise. It becomes just one more thing that is pulling us in 35 different directions as we try to accomplish whatever it is we’re trying to accomplish (writing the book, selling the book, making a living as a freelancer, etc.) That’s not to say that pieces of that advice won’t be helpful, but if you don’t have strategies for cutting through it all to get to those pieces, you’ll be overwhelmed before you ever get there.
So, what do you do? You’re new, you’re learning, you’re taking things in a new direction, or you’re refining what you do. How do you cut through the noise so that you can make progress toward your goals without getting lost in the noise? (Yes, I’m going to give you advice. I recognize the humor in this.)
Cut the Noise
When you need to cut the noise so you can make some progress, some of the following might work… or not, as you’ll see.
Know Thy Self. Seriously, if you do nothing else, this is perhaps the most valuable thing in cutting the noise. Why? Once you know yourself—your personality, preferences, strengths, motivations, values—you are better able to see what advice might work and what advice clearly will not. Then, you’re better prepared to skim over the advice that doesn’t fit you AND take advantage of the advice that does.
Take a Break. If the noise is getting overwhelming, it’s ok to take a break. Mute sources, unsubscribe for a while, or just turn off the media. Let your mind settle. Once you’re in the calm, you may find that some of the advice will stick with you and you’ll be able to see how it could work for you. Maybe you’ll just rest in the calm. That’s ok too. Giving yourself a break can help you have greater clarity when you do step back and it’s likely that it will be less overwhelming too.
Decide Who You Want to Listen To. Here’s the thing. You aren’t obligated to listen to anyone. Find the voices that you resonate with. The people you trust. The advice that makes sense for you. Listen to them (after you filter the advice through what you know about you). Sometimes, we listen to too many people because we’re waiting for THE ONE THING that will make all the difference. We think that if we find that one thing that everything else will magically come together. We look for THE ONE THING that will make the book sell or that will get us through the terrible middle or that will write the book for us. We have such a fear of missing out that we listen to too many things at once trying to find it. Hint: THE ONE THING doesn’t exist. There are definitely things that will move us forward, but no one thing will solve all of our issues. Stay open to the things that resonate for you and turn down the other things.
When the noise happens, you can quiet it. Use that noise overwhelm as a sign that it’s time to evaluate what’s going into your head and keep only what works for you.