It seems everyone I talk to these days is afflicted with the “overwhelmed” virus. I hear it in their voice and see it in their body language. Feelings of being overworked and stressed out are almost as common as a cup of java in the morning. Has life sped up to a point where we’re completely losing balance? Are we unknowingly joining a not so exclusive club of the walking living, troche those who are going about the business of life feeling spiritually dead inside, decease shells of individuals who were once vibrant and full of life? More and more, help we find ourselves going through the motions, feeling overwhelmed and unfulfilled. There is no denying life is more complex and unpredictable. In a 24/7, incessant on-demand world, we are more connected than ever with smart phones, tablets, laptops and social media. A connected world implies that we are available, anytime, anywhere. Yet, a recent survey found that we are lonelier than ever. The virtual world and modern technology, it seems, are poor substitutes for human connections and happiness.
In addition to these incessant demands, change has become a constant companion. We are being forced to start over again through job losses, changes in relationships, tragedy or financial pressures. Because of the constant pressure to achieve, multiple priorities are ruling every minute of every day, while activities that bring us the greatest fulfillment get pushed aside. Joyful, less structured activities pale in importance compared to everything else that needs doing. At the end of the day, we go to bed mentally and emotionally exhausted with a long list of activities that didn’t get done. We feel like we’ve failed because we couldn’t do it all and the vicious cycle begins all over again the next day.
Intuitively you know that many of these activities that keep you so busy do little to enhance relationships or contribute to reaching the most important dreams and goals you have; but you feel a sense of obligation that isn’t easily shaken. It’s time to slow down or get off this crazy, incessant treadmill. Listening to the urgent messages within and re-aligning your everyday activities with your most important goals is a good place to start. Commit to a process of disengagement from your busy schedule to focus on re-engaging in more balanced and mindful activities. These ten steps can help you get there.
Park low value added activities on a “Stop doing…” list to lighten up the load. Consciously recognize which activities are self-imposed and stop doing them. You’ll gain more focus on doing the activities that are important.
- Make a “Start doing more of…” list and include only the meaningful activities that will bring you closer to your goals. Focus your energy on getting those activities done and feel a sense of accomplishment.
- Give yourself the luxury of a few minutes each day to brainstorm possibilities for your life without letting your negative self-talk censor any idea. Cultivate the possibilities and make intentional changes in your life.
- Create and align one goal with your most important dreams and focus on one goal at a time.
- Plan to take 1-3 baby steps, every day, to reach your goal.
- Connect more often with family and friends. They are your anchors.
- Make time every week for reflection and pay attention to what you want.
- Exercise to stay fit and take time for leisurely activities to help release stress.
- Take frequent 1-3 day mini vacations to rejuvenate your spirit and to give your mind a rest.
- Celebrate the small victories as you move closer to a more balanced life.
These actions will reduce your risk of becoming a member of the barely living and spiritually dead club. When you make a conscious decision to turn off the incessant demands and focus on what really matters, you will find a renewed sense of clarity and balance. You will no longer feels like you’re adding more activities on an already overcrowded to-do list; rather you will breathe new energy into your life and gain you a clearer sense of purpose.