In my experience, there are two situations when life can feel overwhelming. The first, is a burn out, where you’ve been applying yourself so fully, that what you probably most need – is some rest.
The other type – is when life is demanding a lot from you, and you consistently feel unable to meet your obligations. You start procrastinating on important and unimportant things. You try to avoid life. Things just keep piling up. And before you know it, you find yourself in a s***storm that you don’t feel you can handle. That’s the type of overwhelm I would like to talk about today – mostly because, that’s the type of overwhelm I’ve been dealing with. Fun.
I made a decision that something needs to change. I have been implementing these 4 practices that I am about to share with you, into my life for the last 2 weeks, and I’ve noticed such a beautiful transformation in my inner resilience and in how my life feels.
So if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed and underprepared – these 4 steps can help you get back in the driver’s seat of your life.
1. Start a 30 day Procrastination Challenge
I asked myself – why do we procrastinate?
I don’t believe it’s as simple as being lazy.
Maybe we procrastinate because we feel like we don’t have what it takes, we don’t have the physical ability or the emotional capability to complete this specific task. Or maybe we procrastinate because we don’t feel we are capable enough for what’s on the other end of completing these tasks. Ultimately, I believe that procrastination stems from anxiety, from stress, and from a diminished sense of self worth.
Because what does procrastination serve?
It holds us back from us living our best life.
It keeps us living in our mind, often paralyzed by our fears and anxiety and questionings. It stops us bringing things to life, it halts the creative process.
And it keeps us powerless. Because the power, is in the doing.
Procrastination has a snowball effect. You start of procrastinating on the big, scary tasks that are inherently and clearly connected to your fears and your self worth. And then before long you are procrastinating on the small, irrelevent suff too. Soon, everything in your day, and in your life, feels touchy and hard to do. Overwhelming.
Every time we avoid something, it becomes scarier. Fear expands. Every time we face something, fear diminishes.
Procrastination had become a problem in my life. I was putting off some big things I needed to do, and I was putting of little things too – like putting away some clothes, or taking something into another room – I was literally procrastinating on moving an object from one room to another. I was basically trying to avoid life. Because my life scared me. Because I didn’t feel good enough, strong enough, capable enough – for what was required of me.
So I put myself on a 30 day procrastination challenge. I had never done something like this before. I took a piece of paper and I made a list of every single thing I had been putting off. It was a long, long list. I called it my “procrastination station”, ha.
The goal of this challenge is to do one thing from the list every single day. If I’m feeling particularly ballsy, I’ll pick one big thing and a couple of small things, and I make it my mission to complete that before the day is done.
After just a few days of this challenge, I noticed my background anxiety and stress levels sink, and my confidence rise. Willpower is a muscle, and the more you practice using it, the stronger it becomes. After just 10 days of this challenge, I noticed a shift within myself into becoming a more action oriented person. I didn’t want to sit on tasks too long. I started to get enjoyment from seeing my list getting smaller and smaller, and I felt the need to protect it. I didn’t want to add more items on that list. So when a new task entered my periphery, I would feel inclined to deal with it right away. Action felt more natural to me. And with action – I started seeing results. I noticed my life start to slowly inch forward in the direction I wanted it to. Things started changing. And it was because of me!
Doing what you say is integrity. The more integrity you demonstrate in your life, the more trust and confidence others have in you, and more importantly, the more you start to believe in yourself.
So if you can relate to anything here, I invite you to try this challenge too! You will see your confidence rise, your sense of self worth expand, your productivity triple, and your life move forward.
2. Write down your problem list
The next step is to take a piece of paper and write down every single thing you consider to be a problem or worry in your life. What issues are you facing? What hurdles or barriers are holding you back? What needs to be healed, what needs to be solved, what needs to be figured out? What causes discomfort in your life? What is wrong?
Problems are constant. Once we solve one, another one comes along – that seems even more urgent than the last. That’s life. If you want to be problem free, you got to be dead.
The perspective shift that changed my approach to life tremendously was in understanding that problems are here to serve us. Problems are here to grow us. The pain of facing them, is simply the stretch of growth. The pulling out of out comfort zone, the stepping into the unknown.
Once you have your problem list, go through each item and ask yourself “what is the opportunity here? What is the lesson? Where can I grow here?”
Every single problem you have, presents and opportunity, and it’s our job to discover what that is.
Once you have identified your problems, and the opportunity of growth in each one, write down one or two action steps for each one – that you can take that will lead you towards your opportunity of growth.
3. Do the right thing at the right time
I learned this lesson the hard way.
The right thing done at the wrong time is the wrong thing.
I realized that many of the problems I had in my life were due to my inaction, or due to doing things at the wrong time. For me, it resulted in missed opportunities, results that are not quite right, and just generally made everything harder.
You see, something magical happens when you do the right thing at the right time. It’s like the universe gives you a high five lol. I know we cannot go back in time and do things differently – but what we can do is make a promise that from this moment onwards, we will respect the timing of our life.
We will respond to inspired action.
We will do the right thing. At the right time.
4. Face the fear
Step 1 created the most outward change in my life, and this step created the most internal change.
I realized that my greatest growth happens when I face the things that make me uncomfortable. When I face the things that make me say “nope.” and want to just crawl back into bed. We spend most of our life in the coziest, warmest, gooiest center of our comfort zone. We occasionally, maybe once or twice in a year, or in our LIFE, venture cautiously to the peripheries, before scurrying back.
My life changed when I decided to spend most of my time at the peripheries of my comfort zone. In the zone of discomfort and growth. It isn’t easy being there. There are so many things that frighten me every day. Every day, I put my sense of comfort, my sense of safety, my personal identity, my sense of self worth, my beliefs, my most intimate and fragile hopes and fears on the line. Every single day, every single one of those things is up for question.
Is this the right thing to do? Am I going to be okay? Am I even cut out for this? Am I smart enough for this? Am I brave enough for this? Am I X Y and Z enough for this? How much do I really believe in the things I preach? What if none of this stuff works out? What if I fail? What if everyone knows of all of my failures? What if this is not who I am? What if this IS who I am? What if X Y and Z happens? What if it doesn’t ever happen?
Everything is up for question. Everything is on the line.
I just keep showing up.
I just keep showing up to pick the braver life, the bigger life.
That is my promise to myself.
I’ve been listening to Robin Sharma’s Mastery sessions – and one thing he said that really resonated with me was when he said that every single thing that scares us is BRAVERY TRAINING.
I just love that! And that is what I remind myself, multiple times a day when these questions swarm around in my mind. If you want to cultivate and iconic life, you must do some brave things.
So when it comes to facing your fears, remember this:
This is your bravery training.
Lean into the fear.
If you want to see your life change, live as much as you can in the peripheries of your comfort zone.
The only thing that shrinks fear is action in the now.
The future is overwhelming, but luckily the future only ever comes one moment at a time. And we can face anything, one moment a time.
I hope you enjoyed this blog post, my friends. Lately I have reignited my interest in personal mastery, tools for productivity and how to live at my full potential – mostly because that’s what my life requires of me right now. I’m studying for my next exam, and it’s important to me to push my own boundaries of what I think is possible for me. And I do have a lot of self-imposed and self-limiting boundaries.
The problem with too much motivational spiel is that after some time, you tend to become numb to it, and then everything seems like a cliche. You know all and yet your life remains the same. I was determined to not let this happen. I want real change in my life, not to read about some nice things to pacify me in that moment of overwhelm.
So in order for me to do that – after I’ve heard about a cool new concept from some kind of motivational video or podcast – I write down the specific and actionable tool that I had learned. And I strive to actually apply it in my life in a real way every day. This has been a game changer. And that’s part of the inspiration behind this post.
Thank you for taking the time to read! I truly am so grateful and honoured to have you as a reader.
As I tell the new interns when their workload becomes ‘overwhelming’:
You only ever have two things to do
1) Work out the most urgent thing that needs to be done.
2) Do it.
Oh, and there’s *always* time for a cup of tea 😉
As for general life goals I’m terrible when there’re no deadlines involved. My trick is to tell as many people as possible that I’ll do it; then I feel I have to do it just to avoid public embarrassment!
That’s simple and great advice. And I can really imagine you telling me that in person 🙂 I miss you! (if this is the Sean I think it is, and if not….oops)
” The right thing done at the wrong time is the wrong thing.”
That is truly great advise. this was a great read 🙂
I’m so glad you enjoyed this post. Thank you for taking the time to leave me such a nice comment.
And yup, truly great advice and one that I remind myself of on a daily basis! Ha.
Dear Malavika……..you forgot the fifth step…………to watch your amazing photo ……….You are Beautiful….’’ Body and soul ” Romualdo , Rio de Janeiro…………..PS. ………. No danger ! I’m almost 80 years …… Cheers
Oh Romualdo, you made me laugh with your sweet comment. Ha. Thank you for your compliment 🙂
This is a really helpful list and im gonna bookmark so i can write it in my journal thanks for sharing!
I’m so glad you found this list helpful! Thank you for reaching out.