Let me guess, you’ve been feeling overwhelmed and finally decided to do something about it.
You donated half your wardrobe. You went a little crazy with bins and a label maker. You purchased a tiny home and put your 2000-square-foot farmhouse on the market. You traded in the mini-van for a Prius.
…okay, maybe you didn’t go to quite that extreme. But no matter what lengths you went to, I’m guessing you still feel overwhelmed. Or anxious. Or both.
It’s a common problem in this crazy society we live in, we all feel overwhelmed from time to time. But I’ll let you in on a little secret – it’s rarely because of our physical possessions.
We feel overwhelmed because we’re overworked and overcommitted.
And while conquering emotional overwhelm, brings an entirely different set of challenges than conquering physical overwhelm, the biggest challenge is surprisingly similar.
You need to decide what is emotional gold, and what is emotional trash.
How do you know what counts as emotional gold?
#1 Focus on your priorities
Your priorities are the things you make time for, no matter what. Often, they are more ideals or life goals than activities. For example, do you ever find yourself thinking, I want to have a successful career, or I want to be a healthy person, or I need my family to be happy. These are the priorities, or life goals you work toward little by little every day.
If you could only do what you wanted to do today, what would that include? More time with family? Extra time at the gym? Date night with your significant other? More time on that project at work? These activities lead to strengthened and continued life goals, or priorities.
While we all would love to schedule our days solely based on our priorities, it’s easy for other things to get in the way. The trick is to always think about what you’re trying to accomplish in life – your priorities. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, get rid of the extra stuff that doesn’t benefit your priorities.
Are you a visual person? Take a minute and write them down. I keep my list on a Post-it® note in my desk drawer. When I feel overwhelmed, I open my drawer and ask myself, what am I doing that does not benefit one of my priorities?
It quickly becomes obvious that I’ve overscheduled some part of my life.
The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities. -Stephen Covey
#2 Passions drive you to be better
Your passions are things that excite your soul, the things that drive you to be the best version of yourself. When thinking about your passions, ask yourself the following:
- Who who do I want to be?
- Why why do I want to be that person?
- How do I get there?
Switch your focus to what you want, not where you’re going. – Tony Robbins
There is a fine, yet very important line between priorities and passions. Passions are much more integral to who we are as people. While priorities are constantly changing based on your age, the people around you, your hobbies, your health, your finances, and so on, passions rarely change—if ever. That’s because these innate personality traits that drive you to better yourself are part of who you are at your core.
Are there any activities you do that cause you to lose time? That’s a key indicator of a passion. If you enjoy your job, you might think you have a passion for work. But if you dig a little deeper, my guess is you can find something much more specific. Maybe you love managing or coaching people. Maybe you love organizing. Maybe you love leading a team.
These key personality traits drive you as a person. Discover them. Cling to them. Do something each day for your life passions.
#3 Relax with your hobbies
The activities that you don’t have to do, but you like to do are your interests, or hobbies. These could be outdoor activities like gardening, camping, kayaking, or running. Or maybe you have indoor activities like knitting, ballroom dancing, or playing video games.
These are the things in life that make you happy, help you relax, and contribute to who you are as a person. These are the interesting tidbits you reference during small talk.
Your interests help expand your mind, develop your creativity, and give you an outlet for stress relief.
#4 Find your cheerleaders
While this one is a little different, it’s not any less important than the other three… you must find your cheerleaders!
We all need supportive people in our lives, people who lift us up and encourage us. No matter how much of an introvert or extrovert, no matter how much of a leader or a follower, you must surround yourself with positive people, people who encourage you and push you to be your best. When you surround yourself with the best people, you become a better person. When you become a better person, people want to be around you.
It’s a great circle when it works and a terrible circle when it doesn’t. Yup, you guessed it. If you surround yourself with jerks, you’re far more likely to become a jerk.
The more positive your surroundings, the more successful and happy you’ll be. Not sure where to find your cheerleaders? Go back to the first three points on the list. When find the things that motivate you to get out of bed each morning, you will find people with similar goals and passions. Those are often the people that understand you better than anyone else.
Don’t be scared to put yourself out there as someone else’s cheerleader. You never know who you’ll meet or who you’ll find cheering for you when you most need them.
That’s it! The four things you must keep when you declutter are not material things.
- Figure out your priorities,
- find your passions,
- make time for your interests,
- and surround yourself with positive people – your personal cheerleaders.
With these four things in place you’ll better understand what is truly important in your life. You’ll have a grasp on what small changes can be made to get your life back on track so you no longer feel overwhelmed or over worked.
Now is the time to check out your happy self in your full-sized mirror, in your full-sized house. Go ahead and swap that Prius for something your entire family can fit into. Your life is on the upswing!