Some days it can seem like nothing is going our way. We find difficulty being productive, finding fulfillment, and even just getting to appointments on time or meeting deadlines. It's an issue that can start a domino effect in the rest of our lives.
It is very easy to dwell on the little things that affect us day-to-day, such as running errands, paying bills, and making sure a healthy meal is on the table. But the arc of the truly important things (like finding happiness and meaning in life) is what hangs over our heads in the meantime. Not addressing the things that truly matter can cause you to miss out on getting what you really desire out of life.
When feeling overwhelmed, take a step back and look at the situation objectively.
How does this situation apply to the rest of your life? For example, you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by the number of commitments you've made in a week, and want to cancel plans with a friend in order to take some time to yourself and relax. You may worry about how that friend will feel, and have stress about letting them down. The reality is, that rest is what you need right now. We don't need any more anxiety, and true friends will understand. Taking care of yourself right now means better sleep tonight, less stress tomorrow, and more time to do something creative or even meditate.
It's amazing what you can accomplish by simply accepting the fact that sometimes it's perfectly okay to say no. Consider going with the unusual life-plan.
Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, and that means that what makes one person happy will be very different from another. In America, much of what we see as 'successful' is having a big house, a nice car (or two), a steady 9-5 job with benefits, a marriage, and 2.5 kids. That may work for some, but life is not a one-size-fits-all template. Think about these:
If you realize that commuting makes you crazy...
...find a job that's closer to your house, or talk to your boss about working 1-3 days a week from home. With the ability to work remotely becoming more and more common, this isn't an unusual circumstance.
If your favorite part about your job is talking to customers (rather than entering data)...
...consider switching gears within your company, or even try a customer service position. Focus on the one thing that you love the most about the job you currently have, and figure out a way to make that more of what you do each day.
If you can't seem to get enough exercise time in...
...try using your body as a mode of transportation. Walk to the grocery store, or bike to and from work. You'll get in shape without even realizing it!
The basic message here is: 'the norm' may not be what is right for you. It's your life, and its up to you to make the decisions that lead to your own happiness and contentment. It may mean moving to another state, quitting your job, choosing a bicycle instead of a car to get around, or downsizing to a smaller home in order to have more money to travel and see the world.
Stop saying "I could never do that," and start saying "I could totally do that."
Change is always difficult at first. The idea seems daunting when looking at it from the outside, but once you get started it only gets easier. For example, a friend says, "I'm going to start waking up at 6 a.m. every morning to do 30-minutes of yoga." Your initial reaction may be, "I could never do that," but of course you could! You just may not want to. Find what you really want to accomplish, and start taking small steps towards making it happen. A positive mindset about change is a great start.
Create time for what matters.
Everyone can make the excuse that they simply don't have time to make healthy meals / exercise enough / find a new job / write that novel / start their own business. But the truth is, we have a lot more time than we think, we just have to create time for the things we want to accomplish!
Start by devoting 5 hours per week (or 1 hour every business day) to make things happen. Even if that hour is used for just sitting and writing down your ideas, that's a wonderful way to begin. It'll help you build the outline for future happiness.
Remember, every person that has found success and made great accomplishments in their lives had to start somewhere. Just like you!
[Credit: Moore, Susie. 5 Ways to Focus on Whats Important, Not Just Urgent. Greatist.]