Twice now I have heard this feedback – one from an email subscriber who shared it sadly as a reason for leaving my mailing list and another from my devoted client during our 1:1 coaching sessions:
“Feeling overwhelmed with self-improvement and personal development.”
Oh I can more than relate to these feelings; personal development bloggers feel this way too; if they don’t, they are not pushing the envelope hard enough. So today, I decided to bring it up and lay it on the table. This post should fare far better than the hasty replies I dispensed to these two dear people.
You want to improve your life, your habits, and your ways. Who doesn’t? You want to lose weight and gain friends. You want to travel smart and work even smarter. You want to set aside the habits that have crippled your advancement in life and accomplish your real goals and perhaps, even tap into your dreams. You want to improve upon your relationships and expand your social network. You want to be on top of technology and maybe even run a marathon (Your not-so-fit friend did it, why not you?). You want inner peace, quietude and preferably, a dash or two of spirituality. You want that next promotion, that big raise, that ideal partner, that beautiful baby, that cute dog, that gorgeous house (the one in my mind has an infinity swimming pool in the midst of a large garden), and naturally, you want that perfect life.
Ah self-improvement: thou art everywhere!
So really, how can you not to be overwhelmed with all of this?
One day, you woke up and realized you can be in control and you can take charge. You see that you can take back the reins and be more than a reaction to circumstance. You can swim to shore rather than just float around to see which way the waves push you. Now your goal is to live your best life and to be the best version of you to all the world around you.
Great realization, but now what? Well, you made big plans and bigger promises in your head but come to see that the execution of it all is overwhelming. All your new changes are good; all your plans will make your life better and bring you closer to your worthy goals. Except you get a little annoyed that instead of excitement and energy, you feel overwhelmed.
You feel overwhelmed from all the information and the ideas surrounding your self-improvement goals. So many related books! So many countless blogs! So many videos and podcasts! So many life coaches and experts dispensing advice! So many countless resources, ideas, methods, approaches and oh so little time on our hands!
Good heavens, enough already!
Prepare to defeat the overwhelming vibes around self-improvement!
Well, I can’t make your choices for you but I can offer you power tips to get things under control so you make the best decisions for yourself. Here are the most powerful five tips, which have always worked wonders for me:
1. Feel Supremely Fortunate for the Opportunities
First things first. Do you realize the miracles of the time and age in which you live? Can you imagine — really, close those gorgeous eyes and picture for a moment – living in the Dark Ages, the 1800s or even the 1980s again? Are you gasping yet? Think about what you would have to give up; how much of your life span would vanish into thin air and how many of these choices would be unimaginable states of existence. Bring that thought to mind if need be and let perspective move you out of “overwhelm” and into a grateful and energized state of being. You have choices, you have options, and you have opportunities before you. What a grand place to be!
2. Recognize How One Complements Another
All of self-improvement is interconnected like a silken spider web; every small change weaves a corner of this web and soon, they grow and become a visibly powerful yet subtle force in your life. Your better eating habits feed your health and enhance your energy for sports and exercise and dancing and yoga and the pursuit of new endeavors. Your calmer state of mind opens the door to clear thinking and soon, better productivity emerges in other areas of your life. Most of the self-improvement goals feed and build on each other, they are related, they are close friends, and they are neighbor wannabes. So take heart, because while you may think you are pursuing a million goals, in reality, you may be pursuing just one big goal — so delight in your small achievements with ease.
3. Reject the Thought of Being Overwhelmed
That stubborn mind should not rule the day. You should always feel in charge of your thoughts. You can choose being inspired over being overwhelmed. You can decide whether the success of someone else feeds you motivation or envy. You can also choose to shut the door to self-debilitating feelings. In fact, you can flat out reject the feeling. It takes practice, patience but it is priceless.
4. Choose What Matters Most Now
So yes, all these interconnected goals, how do you practically pursue them all, now that feelings of being overwhelmed are in the background of your mind? How do you choose what to pursue now and how many to do simultaneously?
Listen to this, I am dying to learn Photoshop in its nitty gritty details. I am also dying to take an art class — any art class will do – for a third year in a row. But I have decided to put those personal development goals in the “someday within next 5 years” category and choose the habits that I needed to develop immediately to sustain me. A clean vegan diet, early rising, daily meditation, cardio exercise along with yoga rank among my top priorities. I reinforce my habits in this circle over and over and I haven’t a doubt that this fusion brings me the energy to pursue other goals.
So do not deny your self-improvement goals but be selective about what to pursue now and what to do later. Choose smart and choose a few, maybe two, maximum three of your self-improvement goals. Go about them relentlessly and just watch how those benefits seep into other areas.
5. Fall in Love with your Goals
After you choose smartly and wisely and you set out to pursue your first two or three self-improvement goals, remember how strongly you feel about them and what pushed you initially to choose these particular top goals over countless others. This is your priority now. This is your starting point — even if you started before and got distracted or overwhelmed, it matters none — and being a fresh start, it requires a lot of attention and a whole lot of love.
In fact, go all out and fall in love with your goals. Fall in love with whatever you chose: a new way of eating, a new dance, a new sport, a new career, a new approach to lifestyle, a hobby, a passion, a new addition to your family or simply the goal of being happy with your place in life.
Love protects your goals and reminds you why you are doing what you do, where exactly you need to focus now, why you struggle to better yourself and how even the pursuit of something is a celebration in itself.
And the best part comes with your thoughts. Share those gems in the comments with us please!