You’re frazzled. Exhausted.
You feel like life is out of your control.
You have so many obligations to meet. So many people expecting things of you. So many decisions to make. So many distractions.
You watch as your personal goals just fall to the wayside.
You’re caught up in the chaos of life, never sure which direction you’re heading in. You feel lost and paralyzed.
I used to feel this way. It led me to feel off-balanced physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
But I learned how to take control of my life — and so can you.
Whenever you feel lost and overwhelmed by life, use the following strategies to regain balance and clarity:
1. Write a personal mission statement
GPS devices have become ubiquitous in our contemporary society. If you found yourself physically lost or knew that you were traveling to a place you did not know, you probably wouldn’t think twice about using your GPS for directions.
Having a personal mission statement is like owning a spiritual GPS device. In his bestselling book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey succinctly describes the personal mission statement as a declaration of “what you want to be (character) and do (contributions or achievements)” based on the “values or principles upon which being and doing are based.”
A personal mission statement can truly be a lifeline when you’re feeling lost. It can help you get back on track by reminding you of the values and principles that matter most to you. If your goals are producing anything other than the vision set forth by you mission statement, tweak or replace them with new goals to help bring your vision to life. Commit to focusing your efforts on your revised plan of action.
If you don’t currently have a mission statement, write yours today. Review it often. Feel free to revise it from time to time too.
2. Create more margin
Do you habitually start your workday immediately after waking up? You may have thought that you can increase your productivity this way. But instead, you feel less focused, tired, and possibly hungry because you skipped breakfast.
Try waking up fifteen minutes earlier each day in order to pause and mindfully begin your day. During this time, you might pray, journal, review your mission statement and goals, or simply sit in silence.
Doing this daily will help you create more margin in your life. Your sense of well-being will increase – so will your sense of direction and your productivity. Soon you’ll be seeking ways to build even more margin into your busy schedule.
3. Reduce your options
We live in a culture that is constantly telling us we can be anything, do it all, and have it all. It is hard to take issue with this message because it’s hopeful and inspiring.
But it’s not reality.
Once you have committed to a path or task, you have simultaneously said no to other available options.
Are you keeping all your options open because you are afraid of missing out on an opportunity? You’re probably also indecisive, anxious, and feeling stuck.
Go back to where it all begins: your personal mission statement. Which of the opportunities you’re pondering resonates most with your mission statement. If you have five options on the list, use this process to get it down to two or one.
Focus your energies on these fewer options. Trust that even though you have reduced your options, you have not reduced your opportunities. Napoleon Hill once said, “Your big opportunity may be right where you are now.”
When we’re lost and overwhelmed, it’s often a sign the we are too focused on ourselves.
An effective way to combat this is by serving. Do this by volunteering for a mission or cause that is larger than yourself. It can be as simple as checking in on an elderly neighbor or volunteering at your local food pantry.
You will be refreshed on a spiritual level and energized with a new perspective when you turn your attention back to your own challenges.
5. Manage your energy instead of your time
One of the frequent complaints of the overworked is not having enough hours in a day to get everything done.
Maybe the problem has nothing to do with time and is really all about how you’re managing (or mismanaging) your energy.
In other words, are you incorporating health tips and techniques to conserve and boost your energy? Do you take advantage of your natural energy cycles by scheduling your most important tasks when you have the most energy?
For instance instead of taking the elevator, try walking up a flight of stairs. Or commit to taking a 10-minute break for every hour of sedentary work. During this time, you might meditate, visit a co-worker, or take a brisk walk around the office.
Here are some other energy-saving strategies.
6. Take control over your email
It’s no secret how stressful email can be. Many of us habitually check throughout the day with no real system for managing our email.
Chances are high that you own multiple email addresses and spend a large portion of your days checking and answering messages from your various accounts.
The time you spend on your email represents the time you spend on other people’s priorities. Put your priorities first by confining your email to a limited schedule and sticking to it.
7. Do nothing
Try doing nothing for two minutes. Let me guess, this exercise was harder than you thought it would be, right?
Our culture tells us we need to be doers in order to achieve. We are taught that the answer to every situation is to do something or do more. Instead, our “always on” lives are making us more stressed and confused than ever.
Try this instead:
When you feel lost and overwhelmed, do nothing for two minutes, and watch as your anxiety fades away and clarity comes rushing in.
Take Back Control of Your Life
Do you desire the ability to know what you want in life and the confidence to pursue it wholeheartedly?
Are you yearning for the courage to say no to all the distractions that sap your energy and keep you from your path?
Do you daydream about balancing your pursuits with the joy of simply being?
The key to these outcomes is already within you. Make the decision today to follow these steps intentionally.
Because you deserve better.
You deserve to be free of a life that has you constantly running around in circles, with no clear direction or balance.
You deserve to be in the driver’s seat of your own life.
Now you know the way, so get going.
Cylon is a spiritual chaplain, musician, devoted husband, and busy dad of six. He blogs about practical spiritual tips for living well at Spiritual Living For Busy People – sign up and get his free guide 20 Little Tricks To Instantly Improve Your Mood Even If You Feel Like Punching Something (or Someone).