Making change takes time it is a learning process. It’s normal to start the process and then become very overwhelmed.
As a matter of fact you may even feel too overwhelmed to begin. There are many things in life that can overwhelm us.
This post is not about dealing with grief, or other very stressful situations. It’s about transitioning to a simple lifestyle.
Consequently with this transition you may be faced with the mountain of possessions you own, or learning new skills. As a result you may feel frustrated and out of control when you are trying to put those skills to use.
I can feel overwhelmed when I am cleaning, or gardening, or working on fixing up the house.
In fact the first year we lived in our house I couldn’t even think about our land. It overwhelmed me so much that I would get sick to my stomach. We had gotten a large piece of severely neglected property. The amount of work and the financial cost to bring it back to life was very intense. There was just so much work to do that I couldn’t even comprehend how it would ever get done. With this in mind I had to learn these following tactics in order to make progress; otherwise I was just tempted to give up.
Changing how you live is hard because of ingrained habits.
It’s human nature to focus on the end result and the process can seem like a long and difficult road. The 5 steps below are tried and true for me, and I am positive they can help you.
Take a moment to recognize what’s making you feel overwhelmed.
If you start to feel that pressure in your chest, discouraged because you are not seeing progress fast enough stop and really think about those negative feelings.
Try to figure out why you are stressed. In all honesty you can’t make an action plan, or let the feelings go, if you haven’t addressed them. In my case, with the amount of work I needed to do on our property I took a step back and recognized why it was stressing me out. I even went as far as to write a long term plan, with all the large ticket items that needed to be done. Don’t get too specific; just identify what needs done so you can move forward.
Focus on micro not the macro.
Once you have made a general list of tasks you need to accomplish, pick one. Focus on ONE item.
Don’t think about anything else. Put your energy into the single item from your list and stick with it until it’s done.
In my case I focused on just one section of our property. To start I picked the visible section, the front of the house. I did all that I could for that first summer to get the vegetation growing and restore the flower beds. Once the growing season was over I changed my focus to building our vegetable garden for the next year.
For a first step you can focus on reducing clutter one room, say your bedroom. Or you could focus on becoming a better cook so you can eat at home to save money. By focusing on the micro instead of the macro you will have direction without becoming distracted by the journey.
Set a time to push through and then take a break.
This is called time blocking. So let’s say you need to clean your kitchen and re-organize it. You have a lot of stuff to go through and it seems like a huge time consuming project. Look at your day or your week, and pick a block of time you have free. Once you start set a timer, say for an hour. Again focus on the micro, pick cleaning out your fridge or sorting pots and pans and work until your timer is done. Then take a break. Go to work, or go for a walk.
Come back to the task and try again.
After you have taken a break, come back to the project for another set amount of time. This can be the same day or the following day. If there is a lot to do, don’t expect to get it all done in one setting. Just make sure you are continuing to work on the project and stay focused.
So let’s say you are overwhelmed because you know you should cook more at home but you don’t know very many cooking skills. You are not going to learn to cook by cooking all day every day
You would start by cooking for one meal, then you would come back and cook for another meal later in the day. If one meal doesn’t go as you hoped you don’t give up, you keep trying.
The same goes for clearing clutter. You work at it for manageable amounts of time, over and over and over again. For example, in my case where I have a fairly clutter free household, I still have to go through all the areas regularly and sort items to keep or toss. Maintaining a simple life is a constant process, it’s not once and done. Changing your lifestyle takes continual work to get to an end goal.
Find a mantra.
“Do what is necessary; then do what is possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible” – Francis Assisi.
This is one of my favorite quotes. I stumbled upon it during a time of my life when I had 3 little kids under 4 years old. We lived in a very small house with a large dog. In fact I immediately felt encouraged by it, and it motivated me to hang in there and get to work. I said it to myself all the time. I thought of it when things got hard, or if we had a bad day. It became my mantra.
There is an unlimited amount of motivational quotes that you can choose from. Do a Google search and find one that inspires you. Use it when you feel overwhelmed to lift your mind. It can give you the strength to go.
Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Don’t let feelings of overwhelm stop you from achieving your dreams. Keep your head up and keep moving forward. When you feel overwhelmed remember the steps; recognition, focusing on the micro, time blocking, continual work, and using a mantra to overcome and you will accomplish great things.