I can’t believe I am actually writing you, but I just feel like giving up. I bought your new book and read it. It was wonderful and filled with great ideas, but I truthfully don’t know where to start. I feel like I can’t keep my head above water. Do I focus on trying to tame the budget? Lose weight? Being more mindful when with my family?
I just feel like I am under so much stress all the time. My husband works a lot and I work from home as a freelance writer and we have two children, ages 10 and 11. My 11-year-old is on the autism spectrum and it is so draining — never-ending worries about this and that. We have no family around.
So what do you recommend as the best way to start getting things under control? Is it finances? (we do OK…but don’t have much savings) Get healthier? (I want to lose 10 pounds and frankly have no willpower and can’t say no to sweets) Get more organized?
Just feeling lost. – a reader
Hugs! I’m so sorry you have so much on your plate right now. I wish that you could come over and hang out with me at my house for a few hours and we could just talk over a cup of coffee.
But since there are miles and miles that separate us, I’ll do my best to share some of my thoughts to answer your questions in this post. I encourage you to just take whatever you find helpful and leave the rest. I’m all about grace not guilt!
1. Say No
The best thing you can do right now is to say “no” to everything that isn’t an absolute necessity. Make “no” your default answer to every request and opportunity.
Now is not the time to be taking on anything new. In fact, now is the time to be off-loading everything you possibly can. Remind yourself that saying “no” to the mediocre will then allow you to say “yes” to the best.
As I talk about in the first chapter of my book, giving myself permission to say “no” changed my life. I had thought that life was spinning out of control without my consent. But then I finally realized that most of the overwhelming things in my life were the result of my inability to say “no” and my feelings of obligation to other people — at the expense of my health and family.
When I realized that I was the problem, but I was also the solution, it changed my life. It allowed me to stop letting life happen to me and start happening to life.
2. Streamline Your Life
So often, we get so busy living life that we forget what it is we’re actually living for. Stop and consider what’s really going to matter in 25 years from now. This will likely change your perspective on what’s important and will make it much easier to prioritize.
I found it very helpful to create a Best Stuff List — a list of the few things that matter most right now and that I want to wrap my life around. I can exhaust myself trying to do it all, or I can choose to focus my time and energy on those few things that really matter.
My Best Stuff list serves as a guide for whether I say “yes” to commitments and opportunities that come my way. And it helps me to much more quickly be able to say “no” to those things that would only distract me from the Best Stuff.
3. Set Small Goals
If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten. You have to change something if you want to see change.
Where do you want to be in six months from now? Think of a few areas that will have the biggest impact on your life. If you’re not sure what to start with, consider which areas are the greatest stress-inducers right now. Is it your weight? Is it your lack of organization? Is it your finances?
Pick two areas that are causing the most stress and set a realistic, specific, and measurable goal for those two areas.
For instance, if you want to lose weight, set a goal to lose 10 pounds in six months. That’s a little less than two pounds in a month — or about a half pound every week.
Once you have the specific goal, it’s time determine your action plan. What specific things are you going to do each day to accomplish your goal of losing half pound a week? Write your action plan down and find an accountability partner you can check in with each week to report your progress and success.
4. Celebrate Your Success
The best way to change your life is to set a specific goal, create a doable action plan, put some accountability in place, and then go for it. Don’t over-think or over-plan. Just do it!
Focus on the progress you’re making, not on how far you still have to go. You probably won’t hit your goals every week, but so long as you don’t give in and give up, you’re still moving forward. And moving forward — even at a microscopic rate — is progress.
So celebrate your success — no matter how small — and keep charging ahead. Even if you just make four small changes each year, that’s 40 changes over the course of a decade — and that’s massive!
Don’t give up! You don’t have to live life stuck in survival mode, constantly feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. Instead, you can live with intention, enthusiasm, passion, and purpose. It’s an amazingly rewarding way to live — and it starts with taking tiny little steps in the right direction!