Few things feed garden variety overwhelm more than a lack of clarity.
Have you ever decided to tackle the ‘clean out the garage’ project? Or that closet? Or the basement? Or your email inbox?
It’s overwhelming isn’t it?
When I take on a project like that, I just stand and stare for a really long time with a sense of dread.
What am I going to do with all this stuff?
Then I take a deep breath, sit down, take one thing and decide what to do with that one thing: trash it, donate it, or store it more properly than randomly stacked up on top of other stuff because I was too lazy to put it away correctly 15 months ago.
Lack of clarity breeds overwhelm in our lives, too.
When we’re unclear on what is most important to us, we struggle handling all of our commitments. Better said, when we’re unclear on what is most important to us, we struggle handling all of the demands that come at us.
Some of these are our own commitments (that we made when we weren’t clear on our priorities). Some of these are demands others have made on us that we were too overwhelmed to say “No” to. Yes… when you’re overwhelmed, it’s more difficult to say “No” because you’re so unsure of what a good decision might be, so you just say “Yes” until you can have time to sift through things later. But you never get to it and your calendar piles up.
It’s the mental equivalent of stacking one more thing up in the corner of your garage to deal with later.
This is why it’s so, so, so important to get clarity on your true priorities.
Clear priorities provide you a decision filter.
You and I need a decision filter. We need to be clear on the relationships, projects, and habits that are vital. The things we’ll regret not pouring ourselves into.
Get clear on those things, and the overwhelm will begin to subside. You’ll recognize something that simply does not fit.
It’ll take practice – especially if you’re like me. A “Yes Man”. Just learn to start asking the right questions (assuming you’re clear on the things that are most important).
Every time a new “opportunity” comes your way:
- Does this fit with my clear priorities?
- If I do this thing, will it rob time from other things that are much more important?
- If I do this thing, will it deplete my energy so that I cannot give my best self to the things that are most important to me?
Will you always have things that you have to do because you’re a human in a modern society? Of course.
But if you struggle with allowing things to pile up, you can greatly decrease this struggle by getting crystal clear on what is most important to you and forcing your commitments to fall into line.
You can do this.