As founder of the BEGIN WITH YES Facebook community with over two million followers and
the author of several motivational books including my newest book, BE AMAZING, people
automatically assume I have everything well under control. After all, I’m the expert! There’s no
way I could ever feel overwhelmed, or ‘stuck’ or even the slightest bit stressed or off-kilter. I
must meet my personal goals with ease and my dreams materialize with little or no effort.
Understandably, people who are struggling mightily would welcome any and all easy answers
from the motivational gurus of the universe who promise to lay out the roadmap to easily
overcome life’s most challenging hurdles.
If that’s what you’re looking for in a mentor or self-help soldier, I hate to break it to you. That’s
certainly not my life and it’s definitely not my day-to-day reality. Sure, if I had that magic bullet
that would solve all the world’s problems, it would definitely help my book sales! But it just
wouldn’t be the truth and let’s face it – that’s no help to either one of us. That being said,
because I know what ‘overwhelming’ feels like and because it’s been a part of my life for as
long as I can remember, I have learned some fairly easy strategies to get beyond it that I believe
will work for you too.
So, first of all, join the club. You’re in good company! Acknowledging that things are on pause
for you is a great place to begin the process of getting unstuck. The pause actually tells us that
you have places you want to go and things you want to accomplish and I, for one, think that’s
very good news.
And with that good news, let me share a few easy suggestions that will help and some
attainable steps you can take to get the train running and back on-track again.
Take a deep breath and acknowledge you’re feeling stuck or overwhelmed. I like to
remind myself that a GPS or navigation app on our phones can only help us get to a
desired destination when first we establish a clear starting place. And your starting place
is exactly where you are right now: overwhelmed.
Now would be a good time to remember that feeling overwhelmed is a common feeling
and especially so for folks who have things – often many things – they want to get done
and many dreams they hope to make happen. That’s good news, so be sure to own
what your mission is and then take another deep breath. And after that last calming
breath, acknowledge that feeling overwhelmed is just that…a feeling. And because
overwhelmed is just a feeling rather than an actual place, we can relax even more
because feelings, after all, come and go, and this too, will pass.
I have learned that it’s perfectly okay to sit for a while with the feelings we have. You do
not have to solve or resolve that emotional traffic jam today. It’s important to keep it in
perspective because you certainly don’t need the added pressure of trying to find a
quick-fix. This will only accentuate your anxiety and exacerbate your frustration! So, cut
yourself some slack, and stop trying to push your way through it! Let it ebb and flow all
on its own.
Now divert your attention to something more mundane. Make the bed, clean out that
pesky junk drawer, take your dog for a walk, or meet a friend for a movie or coffee. Stop
trying to make something big happen and instead, just do something small and easy for
When you’ve caught your breath for a moment, try to make a list of all the things you
are trying to tackle at once. It could be a short list or a long one, but you’ll soon see that
trying to do too much at once is a sure-fire way to short-circuit progress.
Now it’s time to get focused. Choose one primary goal from your master list. Maybe it’s
learning how to speak a new language or how to get a new job or write a book or make
a move to a brand-new town. Make this your temporary focus. I totally understand that
you have a lot of competing things that must get done or that you want to accomplish,
but if you try to bake a cake WHILE folding the laundry AND driving to work…well, you
get the point. Feeling overwhelmed soon dissipates when you learn to manage or
regulate what you’re trying to accomplish. One-thing-at-a-time works much better than
Now ask yourself, “What’s a small, realistic step I can actually take right now to make
progress on whatever goal I’m focused on?” Then take that one, small step. Suddenly
you’ll realize you’re moving again! And if it feels right, take another small step, and even
Then, depending on what’s on your plate, turn your attention to another reasonable
goal and repeat the same “think of a small step and take it” process. Now you’re
actually making some real progress! Soon you will happily discover that the cake will get
baked, the laundry will get folded and the drive to work can all happen – just not all at
Feeling overwhelmed is just like an emotional traffic jam. But with the right strategies in place,
you’ll be able to implement some simple traffic controls and rewire your GPS to help you move
forward in a logical, reasonable and manageable way.
Take it easy, be gentle with yourself, take plenty of breaths and don’t presume you’ll be able to learn that new language in a single day. Instead celebrate learning a new phrase or two, and then get started on that cake!
Paul S. Boynton is the author of several books including Amazon bestseller Begin with Yes, around which he has built an extraordinarily engaged audience of over two million followers. A true force of nature and popular keynote speaker, Paul is also President and CEO of The Moore Center, an organization serving people with intellectual disabilities. His writing has frequently been featured in the Huffington Post, the NH Business Review and The Good Men’s Project. Paul has degrees in both social work and counseling. He lives with his partner, and their dog Toby in New Hampshire, and spends much of his free time visiting his three adult children and their families. Paul’s latest book, Be Amazing, is available online at Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble.com, and IndieBound.org.
Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.