Written by Jessi Kohlhagen
“When you do nothing, you feel overwhelmed and powerless.
But when you get involved, you feel the sense of hope and accomplishment.”
“The secret to getting ahead is getting started.
The secret to getting started is to break complex, overwhelming tasks
into small, manageable tasks, and then start on the first one.”
As a human being in the 21st century, chances are you have a career to build, a family to care for, a household to manage, bills & taxes to pay, and a burning desire to improve every area of your life.
Sometimes you have so much going on, you feel like your head might explode.
And you’re not alone. The feeling of overwhelm is spreading like a disease throughout modern culture… and rightfully so.
Our limited human attention spans are in a constant tug-of-war with countless demands, distractions, and desires… and they’re increasing exponentially with each passing year.
The modern world’s incessant need for “more, better, faster” creates a sense of urgency and inadequacy, and leaves us feeling that our happiness, contentment and desired state of being are perpetually “just around the corner” — always the next goal away, just out of reach.
Even as the highly conscious, ultra-intentional Lifebook Members we are…
We all face challenges in life that threaten to sweep us off our feet and defeat us once and for all.
Enter emotional overwhelm… that paralyzing cocktail of stress, worry, helplessness and disempowerment that tries to convince you of your inability to cope with the circumstances and challenges of life.
Overwhelm overrides our ability to see things clearly and take conscious action, by making our problems appear bigger and closer than they actually are.
But here’s a truly life-changing secret…
Overwhelm is less about what’s going on outside of you, and more about what’s going on inside of you.
Sure, it feels real. Because inner chaos actually creates outer chaos.
When you’ve got a million and one things renting space in your mind, and a whole stew of emotions weighing heavy on your heart, it’s impossible to slow down, prioritize and actually get things done.
So the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, give yourself a time out and DO THIS 6 PART EXERCISE.
Here are 6 steps that will lead you out of overwhelm, and into clarity, confidence, and conscious action.
1. Do a brain dump
Take 5-10 minutes to get everything out of your head and onto paper. No matter how large or small… everything must go! In addition to the obvious deadlines and pressing demands of your daily life, be sure to include the little tasks that keep you up at night, the things you’re constantly telling yourself you should be doing right now, the nagging reminders in the back of your head that won’t let up. Don’t stop or edit until your mind feels blissfully emptied of all of them.
2. Let go of what you can’t control
Looking at your list you may notice items that are simply outside of your control — things like wanting someone to act or feel differently, or wishing for an outcome that simply can’t be predicted. Here, you have one of two options. Either change the goal/task into something you do have control over — that you can actually take action on… or draw a big fat line through it to remove it from your list (and your life) forever. Liberating, isn’t it?!
3. Challenge your assumptions about what you must do.
We all have those to-do items that follow us from week to week and never actually see the light of day. These are usually the things that suck — that we feel obligated to do but aren’t passionate about. Sometimes we really do have to complete them (hello tax returns!). But more often than not, we have the power to free ourselves from feeling of the constant frustration and failure over these half-hearted commitments. Again, you have one of two options: Roll up your sleeves and commit to executing it once and for all… or remove it from your list and free up that mental-emotional real estate.
4. Prioritize and number your tasks
Wahoo! Now you have your real to-do list — the most important and meaningful tasks in your life right now. The next step is to prioritize them. Take a look and order them by number – starting with the most urgent and pressing items, and working your way down the list.
5. Schedule your tasks into your calendar
Now that you know what order you’ll be working in, you can plan your tasks into reality — through your calendar and daily work schedule. This is the final and ultimate step in releasing them from your thoughts. Once you have everything organized and scheduled, all you have to do is hit the ground running with each day’s task. Which leads us to the next step…
6. Take one step at a time.
You absolutely must learn to be content with taking small steps, because really that’s all life is. By taking small, meaningful steps each day (that you’ve consciously and thoroughly plotted in advance), you’re finally able to give yourself permission to reside in that place of happiness and contentment — because you know you’re doing your very best, and for the first time, you believe in your heart that that is enough.