How can it be that so many people start the first working day of the first working week of a brand-new year feeling overwhelmed? Planning is the culprit; it’s both helpful and necessary for progress and it also alerts us to exactly how much we have to do (or aspire to do); and realising the size of the task can send us into a bit of a tailspin.
One viewpoint is that we set the bar too high. We make goals lofty and then try to stick to them; and we shouldn’t (make them lofty that is). Actually, I disagree. Lofty is fine. Where we come unstuck is in thinking we have to achieve it all at once (or at least break the back of it) and in lacking patience (guilty as charged). We would do better to make them holistic and aspirational and back them up with an engaging action plan that feels good to get stuck into (a bit like Christmas cake without the calories).
The way to turn our goals into positive outcomes is to keep our focus on the end result and the next first step; and let go of the need to plan every minute task in between. The devil is in the detail as they say and that’s where you will find overwhelm lurking. That is where the mammoth ‘to-do’ list sits – the one giving us the sense that we’ll never get everything done.
I’ve learned that there is no need to know what every single milestone and every single stepping stone is along the way because that is the bit that becomes too much and stops me wanting to carry on.
Whereas if I ramp up the end goal and how that feels and what it can look like and use visualisation around that; and I know what the first immediate step is – and I know the next time I need to work on the project – that outcome suddenly becomes manageable (and realistic) and I find I’m keen to crack on.
So, the key is to find that elusive balance between getting excited enough about what you want that you feel compelled to go after it; and continually identifying a single next step that is totally doable and gives you a sense of satisfaction once you’ve achieved it.
With an approach like that you may be surprised at how much progress you make; it may even turn out that your aspirations become a reality much quicker than you had imagined. In which case, bring on the celebrations; which may or may not be of the chocolate variety dependent upon your outcomes!