Here’s my new mantra:
If you can’t do it all, do a little.
It’s the most simple remedy for overwhelm I’ve discovered yet. I’m a person who falls into the cycle of want big things -> make big plans -> start -> no immediate results -> discouragement -> burnout.
It’s a damaging cycle that I see a lot of peers experiencing. And each time you start on a new big idea, it’s with a little less enthusiasm than the one before.
That’s why I’ve adopted this mantra.
What is “doing it all”?
“Doing it all” is completing a project. It’s reaching a certain goal or life milestone, or mastering a new hobby. It’s completing every task on your to-do list.
In short, it’s reaching any point of completion.
So when you can’t do it all, that means you’re left with a feeling of incompleteness – perhaps of failure. This is where my self-kindness crusade begins.
Because I know that when I can’t “do it all” I often revert to doing nothing at all.
What is “doing a little”?
I’m so excited about this perspective: take one step to get closer to your goal. Or even a half-step.
Can’t clean the whole apartment? Just put the clean towels away. Just vacuum the hay that the rabbits have managed to spread out over most of your rug.
This approach has actually helped me become more productive. I’ll piece things together in moments between other activities, and soon I find myself riding the momentum into the evening: clean apartment, rabbits fed, tea made, lunch packed.
A little kindness goes a long way
I’ve raved about the importance of self-kindness and awareness before, but I simply can’t stress it enough. I’ve spent too many years expecting too much from myself, so I’m making up for it now with self compassion whenever I can.
By telling yourself in the most overwhelming hours that it’s okay to do just a little instead of doing it all, you’re giving yourself permission to be kind to yourself.
And by focusing on progress instead of completion, we’ll feel more accomplished along the way instead of just at the end of the hectic journey.
Where to start
My challenge to you: take a moment to think about what you want right now. I actually sat down and wrote out a long list of things (physical, mental, emotional) I wanted right now.
If you want to be a blogger but find the idea so overwhelming that you still haven’t started, just do this: grab any piece of paper, any writing utensil, and jot down three posts you’d like to write. Do the same thing if you want to read more – list three books you’d like to read.
There. You are one step closer to your goal.
I know it sounds simplistic, but this practice has really helped me make some progress on projects or hobbies that have felt stagnant.
I’ve written blog post titles instead of full posts, ran 1/3 of a mile instead of 2, put just one cup in the dishwasher instead of all the dishes in the sink. And eventually, by taking little, kind steps, all of my tasks were complete.
What is the one thing you can do today to make progress on the goals that are overwhelming you?