Feeling overwhelmed lately? You are not alone. Many friends and clients have said they are feeling overwhelmed right now. I am right there with you too. This past month if not longer, time seems to be moving faster, opportunities are growing, projects to be completed are increasing, and the flurry of activity seems to be everywhere and growing at light speed. It has been challenging. I searched for and tried many different techniques to handle everything on my plate. What I discovered is the power of two seemingly opposite ideas: discipline and letting go.
Discipline is the obvious choice for handling chaos. The more things get out of control, the more one needs to be disciplined in their actions. This is a time for routine, checklists, scheduling, and time management. This is a time to be aware of distractions and to recommit one’s focus to what is important. This is a time to maintain those practices which aid execution and resist the easy bandage quick fixes which actually slow things down.
This is also the time for letting go. Let go of the idea you need to do it alone. Let go of the idea that you are solely responsible for the results. Let go of any emotional investment in the outcome. Let go of the thought that it has to be hard. Let go of the attitude that it is too much. Let go of thinking that once this is all over then you will relax. Let go of the belief that you have to put your life on hold to take care of the tasks at hand.
Discipline and letting go are both about focus. To be disciplined one needs to determine what is important and what is not. Then one needs to let go and release those things that are not important. Staying focused on what is truly desired provides order and a clear picture of what really needs to be completed. It is important to judge what is important by what you want to experience. Don’t choose an outcome as those are always changing and shifting. Instead choose what is important for you to be and feel. Stay focused on the larger goal of the effort not the individual tactics. The individual tactics will always shift but as long as they are still moving you toward your larger goal, all is good.
Discipline and letting go are about listening to your needs. When things get busy, it is an easy choice to give up those things that are for our wellbeing in exchange for time to accomplish something of value. Let me be clear. Taking care of your self is the highest value. Do not give up lunch for a meeting. Do not give up your exercise routine to make more time for work. Do not exchange good healthy food for quick and easy junk food. Trading what is good for your wellbeing may give you a temporary boost in productivity, but it will not last. The healthier you are, the more clear and productive you are. I often quote Gandhi who said, “There is so much to do today. I must meditate twice as long.” The better we take care of ourselves, the more we can accomplish.
Next time you are feeling overwhelmed. Regain your discipline. Note your true priorities. Ensure your daily practices of self care are in place. Then let go of everything else. You can only accomplish so much. Trust you will finish what truly needs to be done by you at this time. Oh, and don’t forget to breathe.