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Where do You Even Start When Your Life is a Mess?

How to get over overwhelm when you’re trying to fix your life.

Photo by Ricardo Viana on Unsplash
Photo by Ricardo Viana on Unsplash

I’m not too active on Instagram, but I recently posted a photo I took in my chiropractor’s reception area. It was a funky illuminated sign with a message that spoke to me.

My pic from Dr. Bernice’s office.

It spoke to me because healthy and happy is our natural state.

It’s our natural state until life gets out of balance, and out of balance is how many experience life.

You don’t know where or when it went off the rails, but one day you open your eyes, and you find your life a mess.

Out of balance + Time = a mess

One follower asked a simple but powerful question:

“Where does someone start?”

I hear this question a lot. It’s not easy to stare at what looks like multiple massive problems and know where to begin.

We get overwhelmed trying to jump from A to Z.

A boost of inspiration hits and we try to fix it all at once only to get disappointed and frustrated.

It’s not easy to figure it out yourself when you’re in the midst of the storm, so let me map it out for you.

Give an honest assessment of your life right now.

Rate the major areas of your life.

Your physical health.
Your lifestyle*.
Your spirituality
Your relationships and social support.
Your finances.
Your career/vocation/purpose.
Your fun and enjoyment.

*I rate lifestyle and physical health separately. If your body seems healthy and doesn’t have any signs of disease, but your diet and habits are a mess, you’re not truly healthy.

These aren’t listed in any particular order. Each one is as important as the next.

Rate each area on a scale of 1–10. One is terrible and 10 is beyond excellent.

Be honest in your assessment. It’s common to either over emphasize or minimize. Try to let the answer bubble up from your inner subconscious mind and not your logical mind. Your logical mind with make all sorts of arguments and rationalizations about your assessment.

What’s the one, most immediate, small thing you can do?

You heal your life one small step at a time. Step one is identifying one immediate SMALL thing you can do in each of the core areas you rated.

What’s the first small step you can take in each area to improve your score 1/2 a point?

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed if you’re staring at a bunch of low numbers on your assessment.

Growth and progress happen one small step at a time. I know that doesn’t sound sexy or exciting, but that’s how nature works.

Photo by Vladimir Tsokalo on Unsplash

Your life didn’t get where it is in a day, and it’s not going to heal in a day either, but don’t let that discourage you, you’re going to heal your life.

Instead of diving into some complicated, and difficult to maintain diet, can you stop drinking soda? Can you drink 2 more glasses of water each day? Can you stop eating fast food? Or stop eating past 8 pm?

You probably can’t pay off your credit cards all in one day, but can you take them out of your wallet and stop using them for new purchases?

Can you dust off your resume?

Can you reach out to one person each week to rekindle a friendship?

Can you set your phone aside while eating with your family?

Get one small change established then ask. “Okay, now what’s the next most immediate small thing I can do?”

Get your first step solid before you take on another.

If you had to clear a forest on your own, you wouldn’t try to take down 6 trees with a single axe. You take one tree all the way down, then you move to the next.

I Promise You You’re Making Progress, You Just Don’t Know it Yet

So, after you get one small step established in an area of your life, move onto another small change you can make with consistency.

Remember, each step is going to inch your self assessment score up by a fraction of a point.

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

Blades and shrubs versus trees.

Blades of grass, shrubs, and trees make a good analogy for goals. BJ Fogg, PhD researches and writes about the philosophy of tiny goals.

Blades of grass are small goals, that add up over time. When combined with other “blades” they grow and thicken to become a beautiful landscape. Blades grow fast. Blade goals start tiny, and they aren’t designed to get very big. That’s perfectly okay, it’s not their purpose to get big. Put lots of them together, though, and you’ve created change.

Shrubs are habits or changes that start small and grow to expand. They don’t become huge and massive changes, but they offer momentum to take you further. Cutting out soda leads to you cutting out all sweetened drinks. Brewing your coffee at home instead of grabbing it from a coffee shop leads to you cutting out other small leaks in your finances. Putting down your phone at your kids’ soccer game leads to you playing soccer in the neighborhood with them.

Versus:

Trees are changes that start small but with the vision of them becoming very big. These are multi-faceted changes in lifestyle, thought, and behavior. They’re goals and habits that if you tried to jump right in and do them all, you’d surely feel overwhelmed and frustrated. Yes, we need one or two big, bold goals in our life, and yes, we need to have an overall vision of what we want, but at the same time, we need to know the most successful way to grow a tree is with time and patience.

Photo by Johann Siemens on Unsplash

Working on your blades and shrubs will get you there.

Why am I a big fan of small goals? Because I learned from my own pain and disappointment, how frustrating and unsuccessful it is to only focus on the trees.

Focusing on the trees blinds us to the small, everyday progress we’re making.

And when your tree doesn’t grow as fast as you thought it would, or maybe it doesn’t grow at all, it’s discouraging. That doesn’t feel good.

Feeling good is key.

Motivation doesn’t last. You have to be excited about your goals. They have to make you feel good just thinking about them.

When you face roadblocks, motivation quickly declines in goals that don’t excite you.

How much excitement is there in losing 20 pounds because the doctor lectured you? That’s a very different feeling from staying strong and fit so you can go skiing with your family.

Get yourself into the state you’ll be in when you reach the goal. Feel those feelings now.

Conjure up all the good feelings of fitness and high energy, being deeply in love, being financially stable, or being in the business you’ve dreamed of building.

Feel those feelings now to maintain your excitement to keep moving forward.

Photo by Kevin Schmid on Unsplash

This is all designed to get you over overwhelm when you’re trying to fix your life.

When I stare at a blank canvas, I don’t know where to begin.

It can feel the same when you stare at a mess.

The answer to progress is one small step at a time.

You can get from New York to California one foot at a time, and the same is true for your life.

As your new blades and shrubs choke out the old, you’ll look back and see how far you’ve come.

I want to send you my free guide, “5 Days to More Peace, More Prosperity, and More Happiness”. Click here to get the guide for free!

Visit me at www.christinebradstreet.com

Cross posted at www.christinebradstreet.com and Change Your Mind Change Your Life

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