Community//

How to find one goal to focus on when you feel overwhelmed

Focus on the step in front of you and not the whole staircase.

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

Life is so much brighter when we focus on what truly matters!

Achieving what you want often starts with eliminating what you don’t want. The secret ingredient is that you can do anything you want, but you can’t do everything.  See, this is certainly the exact thing that none of us want to hear. Why?

Because for far too long, since we were old enough to comprehend words, we’ve been told and encouraged with these words: “You can do anything!”  Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate the optimism. The point is that to remain clear you can do anything, but you can’t do everything. You’re going to have to choose. That is what’s going to separate you from everyone else, if you’re up for it.

In this multihyphenate day and age, far too many people are trying to do everything.  When you try to do everything, most times you end up accomplishing nothing. Whenever I find myself getting distracted with unimportant things that are actually steering me away from what I care about most, I play the conversation of what is important in my mind.

How many apps do you have open?

You know what happens when you have too many apps open on a computer or smartphone? Your operating speed slows down. Apps that you are actively using start to freeze because the other unused or minimized apps are sucking up all the energy, running behind the scenes without our knowledge—without even being useful. 

Life is no different. 

How many apps do you currently have open in your life? Are you attempting to do everything?

“Apps” could be jobs, hobbies, special projects, kids, housework, friends, caregiving, volunteer obligations, social appointments, and so forth. When we have too many apps open, there’s a lot of “I’m sooo busy” going on, but nothing actually gets done.

When we have too many apps open, we become so distracted we don’t have a true litmus test of how we feel. Countless research studies have confirmed that our brains were not designed for multitasking. Many of us have yet to fully embrace how important it is to guard our time and be selective about what we say yes to.

Take a moment and grab a blank piece of paper or open up a Google doc. Write down all of the “apps,” or in-progress projects and responsibilities, in your life. Identify which of those projects are just depleting your energy. Jot them all down and watch your blank piece of paper or screen quickly fill up.

Now, one by one, review all of your open apps and ask yourself if they really matter.

Which apps need to stay open? Which apps need to be closed for the foreseeable future? And which need to go in the trash once and for all? If you had to choose just one app to stay open, which would it be?

If the idea of choosing just one scares you, ask yourself why it scares you. If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll learn a lot from the answer.

If you’re not sure where to start, try eliminating a low-priority task that’s been a consistent thorn in your side and see how you feel. For example, maybe you feel an obligation to post weekly to a blog that you stopped caring about long ago. Or maybe each week, you get together with a group of friends to throw a few drinks back, but you do it solely out of obligation. Or maybe you’ve become the go-to person to give people rides to or from the airport, even with the existence of ride-sharing services. It could even be that non-profit whose mission you really care about, but that takes up more and more of your time than you were truly hoping to give. 

Once you experiment with eliminating some “apps,” even small ones, gauge your mood, your health, and even your excitement, or trepidation, to start each day. In my experience, you’ll find that once you identify which apps need to be closed in your life, you’ll have more energy, focus, and clarity. A powerful question to ask yourself is: 

“What are you willing to give up to live the life that you say you want?” 

The truth that most of us are afraid to acknowledge is that some things really do matter more than others. Knowing the difference between what does and doesn’t matter will profoundly change your life for the better.

Time has a wonderful way of showing us what truly matters in life.

    Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

    You might also like...

    Franz12/ Shutterstock
    Wisdom//

    How to Find One Goal to Focus On When You Feel Overwhelmed

    by Antonio Neves
    Community//

    14 Hard-Won Life Lessons to Help You Transform Your Life

    by Ayodeji Awosika
    Community//

    What You Can Say (or Do) When Someone You Know is Struggling with Infertility

    by Joanne Verkuilen

    Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

    Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

    Thrive Global
    People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

    - MARCUS AURELIUS

    We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.