When It Feels Overwhelming To Revolutionise Your Life, Where And How Do You Begin?
When it feels overwhelming to revolutionise your life, where and how do you begin?
This question came in today, and it’s brilliant. So let’s get stuck into it.
There are a couple of things to unpack in this question. The first is the use of the word overwhelm. That word is a red flag to me. Society would have you thinking that being stressed, busy, and overwhelmed is normal, even a good thing. This is bullshit. Overwhelm tells me that you’re not coping. Are you in therapy? Are you meditating? Please do both. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it is even more essential that you stop what you’re doing and take a very clear look at it.
All that is required to revolutionise your life is a willingness to be radically honest with yourself. For some of us this is easy, and for others it is more challenging. Many of us grew up in homes where telling the truth was a sin, or something we were shamed or ostracised for. We grow up to be adults who deny our true feelings, who pretend everything is okay just to maintain the status quo, and then lie awake staring at the ceiling, wondering why it feels like our soul is circling the drain.
So here is your first task: start to be honest, and begin with yourself. Allow yourself to feel mad, or miserable, or confused. Give yourself permission to say no to the boring work party. Stop straightening your hair if it feels like a burden.
There’s a reason why know thyself is such a powerful aphorism. Hiding from your truth is a sure route to sadness and destruction. If you cannot tell yourself the truth, you are really screwed. Honesty gets easier the more you do it, just like anything else. Practice telling yourself the truth every single day.
Change starts in small, bite-sized increments. You could pack your bags and move to Guatemala tomorrow, but change like that isn’t sustainable. Plus, as soon as your plane touched down, you’d realise that nothing was different except your location. Wherever you go, there you are, and all that. So let’s begin with something little.
This exercise will take a little time, so my suggestion is to make a #radicalselflovedate out of it! Take an afternoon off, go to a coffee shop with a notebook, and start writing. Order some coffee or tea, and maybe a croissant with some raspberry jam. Part of the fun is getting splotches of jam or crumbs on the pages. Fuck perfectionism.
Choose one area of your life (relationship, work, health, family, home, etc.) that you want to work on. Turn to a fresh page in your notebook, and write the name of the area (i.e. “my career”) at the top. Underneath, write down exactly what the situation is right now. What does it look like on an average day? How does it make you feel? Go into detail. Be ruthlessly honest. Allow yourself to go there. This might be painful, but owning that pain is part of the process. You can’t make progress unless you are willing to stare your pain in the face.
Take a deep breath. It’s time for the next step.
You may not enjoy hearing this, but I’m going to say it anyway. Sometimes people tell me this when I’m upset about something, and it always makes me even madder. But that doesn’t make it untrue. And actually, hearing it reminds me that I am in the driver’s seat. So here goes.
Whenever there’s something in your life that sucks, you are at least partially responsible. It’s no one else’s fault that you feel like shit. You are contributing to the suckiness of your life! It might not be all you. But it is at least 50% you. It is!
This is your life, and you’re in control of it. So, it’s time to get clear about the role you’re playing in the suckiness. Maybe you consistently take the wrong action. Maybe you take things too personally. Maybe you’re too passive and so you’re not taking enough action. Whatever it is, on the opposite page, write down all of the shitty rituals and routines you’re indulging in that are contributing to the suckiness of this area of your life. For example, if you’re focussing on your career, maybe you haven’t asked for a promotion. Maybe you took a job that’s beneath your ability. Or maybe you’ve simply tolerated a lame working environment for too long.
Look at what you’ve written objectively. It might be shocking to see how much of a bummer this area truly is, especially if you’ve been in denial about it for a long time. Don’t let this put you off! Things are about to get juicy.
Eat a few more bites of your croissant. Enjoy the sugar rush. Now turn the page. On this page, I want you to write down the way you want this area of your life to be. Don’t censor yourself. Allow yourself to dream, and stretch yourself creatively. No one else will ever see this, so don’t downplay your fantasies. Allow your daydreams to have legs (and fabulous shoes). What is your vision? Take your time writing this. When you think you’re done, don’t stop. Keep going. Just past that point of comfort is where all the really good stuff lies!
Flip to the next page. Once you’ve described this beautiful new reality with as much vigor as you can muster, it’s time to write down the rituals and routines that will support it, and help you bring it to fruition. Perhaps you need to set clearer boundaries. Maybe you should write down 10 ideas every day (like James Altucher). If your area of focus is health, create new routines around what you eat, how much sleep you get, and how you exercise. If the area is relationships, why not trade gratitude lists with your boo every morning? Or decide to surprise them with something every day?
You get the gist. Be creative. Think boldly! What would you need to implement in your daily life to help you become the babe of your dreams?
Pack your notebook into your bag. Smile at the barista and say thank you. Walk out of the coffee shop, and allow yourself to ponder everything you’ve written down. Which of these new routines and rituals can you start today? Many of them, I bet!
Once you get home, write them into your planner of choice, and feel the deep sense of satisfaction as you cross them off every single day. This is how change happens: by creating new habits that support us in being the person we always wanted to be. The tweaks you make will radiate outwards throughout the rest of your life, infusing every part of it with more energy, joy, and excitement.
I believe in you!