If you were ever overwhelmed by life and the goals you put on your agenda, you probably know how hard it is to get back on track. You might feel like hiding, procrastinating or not being able to stop worrying about many things in your life. And all these feelings usually come with a huge amount of guilt. Guilt for feeling overwhelmed in the first place, for not being able to progress, for being not strong enough.
Let me tell you bluntly, this is a lot of bull**** your subconscious is trying to feed you. Stop buying into the guilt trip right now. It is ok if you still feel it, but don’t feed it anymore, just let it all go, slowly but surely. I am telling you this so drastically because I have been there so many times. In fact, I am making my way just out of this guilt-bull**** right now.
“You can’t crush your goals if you are running on empty.”
I got overwhelmed by my own plans and goals, took some self-prescribed time off my blog, and wallowed in guilt over not being able to get back on track with my goals. After about 2-3 months of a complete stop, I am just starting to feel better and getting back to writing, to thinking creatively and being excited about it all.
So, how can you get there? Here are my 8 tips on how to get back on track with your goals:
1. Assess what stage you are in
To know what stage you are in, will help you determine the next steps to take.
For example, if you are in the overwhelmed phase, it would be next to impossible to jump right to taking the first steps in the right direction again. You first have to take very good care of yourself.
The process might look like this:
You realize that there is a lot on your plate, but you want to push forward on your goals, so you just keep going. Probably, you don’t know how to scale down and simply hope it will get better on its own. Trust me, it never does get better on its own. You need to make it better. And you can do it.
This is the head-in-the-sand feeling, where all of a sudden even enjoyable activities like hanging out with friends or taking time for yourself will stress you out. You might come to a halt and stop as many stressors as possible. Work, health, and family-related stressors are usually much harder to put on hold and might need an entirely different approach.
In all honesty, I can say that I am not able to look at any of these tips in any stage before ‘rebound’. Self-care and feeling better must come first.
2. Go back to your why
Why did you set your goal in the first place? Every good goal starts with why. Go back and try to find it. Tell yourself or write down why you decided to take on this goal in the first place.
A few days ago, a co-worker asked me about my blog. I sighed and told her how I put it on hiatus because I was overwhelmed. As I described the entire situation to her and explained the purpose of this blog, I reminded myself why I started this in the first place. Inspiring people to follow their dreams and live their lives passionately is what this site is all about. Et voilà, I am currently working on this article and taking the first step back. Whatever your goal is or was, dig deep and find your WHY. The more you can tie it to a positive emotion, the easier it will be for you to get back on track.
3. Assess your goal(s)
Take a good look at your goals for the year. Go through them one by one, prioritize again and throw overboard what no longer suits you. What is your most important item? Put this on top of your list. Goals can change. That’s ok.
4. Are you still passionate about your goal?
Let’s talk about the one goal you have gotten off track with. How much do you still want it? Very much? Is it worth fighting for? If deep down, you don’t really care about your goal it will be infinitely harder to get back and stay on track.
5. Acknowledge and let go
Acknowledging what is happening and being ok with it is an important step to make when you want to get back on track. Try to write down your own acknowledgment sentence:
“I have gotten off track with ______________ because ________________________. I need to _________________. I will not beat myself up about it anymore. It is ok to get overwhelmed and it is even better to take care of myself. I am still passionate about ________________ and want it to succeed. I can do it!”
Wow, this felt good, hey?
Here is mine: “I have gotten off track with blogging because I was overwhelmed by work and all that needed to be done to kick-start this blog. Stopping everything and getting better first is my first priority. I will not beat myself up about it anymore. It is ok to get overwhelmed and it is even better to take care of myself. I am still passionate about my blog and want it to succeed. Everything I want to achieve, I can achieve.”
6. What is holding you back?
When you think about getting back on track, what does this look and feel like? Are you feeling overwhelmed just thinking about it? Do you feel you don’t know where to start again or are you afraid that you can’t do it? Write down all your perceived and real obstacles and ideas on how to overcome them and then move on to the next point.
7. Create a new action plan
Now that you have reconfirmed your goals and acknowledged your obstacles, it is time to set a new action plan and schedule. Start small. Don’t overwhelm yourself again. Include enough self-care in your plan and remember that a schedule is not a deadline. You want to enjoy this.
8. Put your plan into action
Just get started, it doesn’t have to be perfect. After all
your careful planning, you can’t go wrong. Start small and start somewhere. If you need a day off tomorrow, that is ok. If you keep thinking about it, that is excellent. It means you are excited about your goal and that will help you get back on track. Take your time.
No matter where in the process you are, you deserve a big pat on your back. Just the fact that you are thinking about this, means you are on the way to getting better and getting back on track. You have not abandoned your goal, but rather care about it so much that you researched on how to get back on track. Hold on to this. It will serve you well and get you far. This all takes time, patience and persistence. Be good to yourself.
If you are a journaler, track your progress in your (bullet) journal. I am not kidding, this makes you realize that you are making progress. It is very powerful. Because after all, happiness is perceived progress.
Throughout my journey of recent overwhelm and resulting self-care, I came across this quote, that has helped me to make it through and helped me get back on track:
Be stubborn about your goals, but flexible about your methods. Namaste.
You might have read that I recently was overwhelmed and had to take a step back from the multitude of tasks that I put on my own to do list:
- taking care of my family
- being the best version of myself at my job
- keeping the house clean (luckily I don’t have to shoulder that all by myself)
- this blog, horse-back riding
- taking riding lessons
- looking after my health
- working out
- professional development
- socializing for myself and my daughter
The list goes on. In short, I was having a hard time and needed to find a way on how to stay focused to follow my dreams.
As I outlined in “Feeling overwhelmed?”, to get better, I had to take a step back, scale down my pace and prioritize. I also tried the 15 minute-block challenge. While I enjoyed going through the exercise, I knew what I am spending my time on. In my opinion, the 15 minute-block method is great if you don’t have a good sense of where you spend your time. It reveals where there might be pockets of time that could be optimized and serves as a reminder to use “waiting time”. So far I haven’t been able to make dramatic changes. So I kept researching and exploring.
As it so often is the case with synchronicities, because you attract what you focus on, I came across this quote:
The simplicity of Mr. Maxwell’s statement struck a cord in me. Achieving your goals and living your dreams needs you to focus and manage your priorities.
Here are the 13 tips that help me focus:
When you prioritize your tasks you create a clear mental picture on where you want to focus your energy on. Even though 20 things may seem like a top priority right now, something has to give. You are only human!
Put everything you need to do and accomplish on a piece of paper or in your bullet journal and write it down. The Brain Dump exercise might give you an idea on where to start. Then, go through and find the top three things that you need to tackle first.
2. One thing at a time
Being able to multitask is praised as a top quality in any employee. But there is a steep price that multitaskers pay. According to a 2009 Stanford Study, multitaskers are more easily distracted, have a decreased memory capacity and ability to switch from one task to the next.
Even computers are not able to multitask: they process one 0 or 1 at a time. They are just extremely fast at it.
Stopping constant multitasking is something I learned quickly at my current job. There are always a million things to do and they all seem to be most important, right now! The pace is fast, but when it is at its fastest, I put my head down and focus only on one thing at a time: when it is time to put the monthly newsletter together, I clear everything else off my desk. I get the distracting and interrupting tasks like emails, social media content creation and scheduling out of the way, and then fully dedicate my attention to writing, image creation and putting it all together.
3. Take a break
Breaks are as important as getting things done. Give your body and brain a break from the task at hand and relax your eyes and your mind. It can be as little as taking a 20 sec screen break, to getting some tea or coffee or even going for a walk during lunch. I am still amazed what a walk over lunch does for me. When I come back, I am energized, focused and much more balanced during the afternoon.
4. Get organized
Being organized is much more than having an up-to-date to-do list and decluttering your space. They are important pieces to the puzzle, but there is even more that you can do to bring focus and clarity to your life. Here are a few simple ideas on how to stay focused and organize your life:
• Place items such as phone, keys, wallet, sunglasses always in the same spot
• Put your monthly bills in a stack and pay them on time
• Lay out your clothes for the next day
• Keep a running grocery list. I use this great app for it called Wunderlist.
Bringing order into your life will help you stay on track and on focus so you can devote your energy to your main goals in life.
5. Quiet Place
A quiet space to work that keeps outside distractions to a minimum helps you stay in your zone and lets your creativity flow. Some people work well with music, others prefer to work without. Find out where your sweet spot is.
6. Keep work at work
In today’s day and age, it seems that there are real pressures on many of us to take work home and be available beyond the working hours. Where it is sometimes necessary to work overtime to get the job done, research has shown that doing it consistently depletes mental and physical energy. If we are not able to detach from work, we might be detaching from important personal relationships sooner or later. Keeping healthy boundaries will let you arrive at work refreshed, focused and with the ability to be innovative. Here is a great article on detaching from work on Psychologytoday.com.
7. A good night’s sleep
Getting consistently enough sleep is vital to a healthy mind, body and keeping you excited about your day and your goals. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults between ages 26 – 64 should get on average between 7-9 hrs of sleep per night.
Do you feel you have “brain fog” a lot or are increasingly forgetful? Regular exercise releases chemicals in your brains that will positively impact your memory, concentration, and mental focus, according to the Harvard Medical School. If you exercise your body, you also exercise your brain. Rigorous exercise will also allow you to shut off your brain that keeps running up and down your to-do lists.
9. Devote specific hours to tasks
When you plan your week ahead, devote specific hours to specific tasks, like checking your email in the morning, after lunch and before the end of your day. Get the most important tasks tackled in the morning, when your focus and energy are the freshest. This will give you a sense of accomplishment and you will be able to see how you make progress every day.
10. Embrace doing nothing
There is nothing wrong with taking some time away from your to-do list. Scientists suggest that spending time in meditation or simply doing nothing at all are essential to our mental and physical health, increase productivity and creativity. The Italians even have a name for the art of doing nothing: ‘Dolce far niente‘ or The sweetness of doing nothing.
Clutter is a huge form of distraction not only in your work space but also in your life. You don’t have to become a clean-o-maniac, but make sure that your space, home, office is beneficial and conducive to achieving your goals and following your dreams.
12. Minimize distractions
When you are working on your goals, say no to all distractions: email, social media, TV, gaming, or your mobile phone. Electronics are usually the worst offenders. You can feel busy with busy-work, but not get the big-ticket items on your list done.
13. Nourish your body
Your health is the most important asset you have in your life. Money, friends, great dreams become secondary if you are lacking in health. Nourish your body with what it really needs to stay focused. Everybody is different and you need to find out what works best for you.
Speaking of synchronicities, this is a story that I recently read in a newsletter, which I usually delete without reading (how ironic, I know), and since then realized it can be found all over the internet, albeit with slight alterations.
Focus on the glass of water
One day, a new employee went to the HR manager and said, “I’m not interested in coming to the office anymore.” The HR manager responded, “But why?”
“There are people who do a lot of politics and talk negatively all the time. Some are gossiping constantly,” the young man replied.
“OK, but before you go, can you do one last thing? Take a full glass of water and walk three times around the office without spilling a drop on the floor. After that, leave the office if you wish,” countered the HR manager. “Heck, it’s a matter of minutes,” thought the young man, so he walked three times around the office with this full glass of water in hand.
As he reached the HR office the HR manager asked, “When you were walking around the office, did you see any employee speaking badly about another employee? Any Gossips?” The young man replied, “No.” Then the HR manager asked, “Did you see any employee looking at other employees the wrong way?” The young man repeated, “No.” “Do you know why?” asked the HR manager and the young man replied again, “No.”
“The reason you didn’t see any of that is that you were focused on the glass, to make sure you didn’t tip it and spill any water and the same goes with your life. When our focus is on our priorities, we don’t have time to see the mistakes of others,” explained the HR manager.
How to stay focused time and time again? It helps if you love what you do. Whether it is your work, your side hustle, your goals and dreams you follow, we can all come back to our focus, because we are motivated to follow our passion. However, it is not always that easy to love what you do. Try to use the impetus of what you don’t love as motivation to make a change that does inspire you. But that topic is certainly worth its own article.
Look after your health, physically and mentally, focus on your priorities and your goals and dreams will be within your reach. Happy focusing and I’d be curious to know what works for you and what you struggle with most when it comes to staying focused.
Do you find yourself often stuck in a negative thought spiral? “I can’t do this.” “I am not good enough.” “I will never get this right.” Do these sound familiar? Do you also, from time to time, have to work really hard to ward off negative thoughts or even use positive affirmations? This might be, in part, because our brains are equipped with a greater sensitivity to negative information than positive, also called “negativity bias“. In laymen terms: since prehistoric times our brains evolved with this bias for a good reason: to keep us out of harm’s way. But as our survival does not depend on spotting the deadly saber-toothed tiger anymore, our brain’s bias for negative information puts us in harm’s way in quite different ways. Do you ever experience how your negative thoughts seem to become self-fulfilling prophecies? When we talk ourselves down long enough we start to believe what our brain constantly whispers into our ears and in return, our personal lives, relationships, and careers take a turn for the worse. As our brains are on autopilot most of the day to filter the flood of information, how do we take charge of our thoughts and turn off autopilot for those negative thoughts? Why don’t you give positive affirmations a try? Positive affirmations are by no means wishful thinking, they are rather a scientifically proven way to shape your thoughts, attitude and ultimately your reality.
What are affirmations exactly?
Affirmations are positive statements, often repeated numerous times throughout the day, that can help you stay motivated, overcome self-doubt, the all-too-well known negativity, boost confidence and set a positive state of mind for the day ahead. You can think of positive affirmations as a workout for your mind. If you exercise a move or a group of muscles, in this case, your brain, over and over again, sooner than later the move will become natural and you will be able to follow through the motions with ease. This is just as true for your brain, because your brain strengthens the connections between the neurons associated with a task, move or thought, every time you repeat the action. Luckily for you, your brain is just looking for ways to set you up for success and is eagerly awaiting the next command, you just have to task it to process positive affirmations.
Here is how to do it:
In order for affirmations to work, phrase them positively and in the present tense. That is the language our brains work with best. Even though we might be dwelling too much on the past or worrying about the future, our neurons fire only in the here and now, so commands in the present tense are most easily put into action. Close your eyes and see how you feel when you say these two things: “I am calm and at ease.” versus “I am not stressed.” What do you feel? Do you start to think about the past stress that you are trying to NOT feel?
Here are 36 positive affirmations that set you up for success:
- I am manifesting my desires.
- Today, I make magic.
- I believe in myself and my ability to succeed.
- Something wonderful is about to happen to me
- I choose happiness.
- My mind is open to the possibilities.
- I can do anything I put my mind to.
- I can handle anything that comes my way.
- Great strength lies within me.
- I have the courage to follow my dreams
- My dreams are far more important than my fears. I keep going no matter what.
- I am creating the life of my dreams.
- Whatever I put my mind to, I achieve.
- I am loved.
- I am determined.
- I follow my intuition.
- What I perceive I can achieve.
- I am grateful for what I already have and for all that I receive now.
- I am courageous.
- I am, and always will be, enough.
- I am a powerful creator. I am creating the life of my dreams.
- I can do this.
- I love my life.
- I love my job. I work with and for wonderful people.
- Wellness is the natural state of my body.
- I am powerful.
- Everything is possible.
- I am grateful for my life.
- I am amazing.
- I am capable.
- I find love everywhere in my life.
- I forgive myself for not being perfect.
- I am safe.
- I focus on the positive.
- I chose joy and ease every day.
- I am feeling exhilarated, agile and alive.
How to use them?
Now that your ideas are flowing and you might have already picked your favourite affirmations, how should you best use them? Keep them where you are reminded of them often:
- In your journal that you open in the morning before you get out of bed
- On your bathroom mirror
- As your background of your computer monitor
- On your phone’s screen
- Nicely framed on your favourite wall at home
- When you have to renew your passwords, pick a positive reminder
- As a bookmark
To radically change your life, go out and hunt down the affirmations that speak the most to you and create constant reminders for yourself. Get my positive affirmations for your computer screen, bullet journal or poster for your home. Look at them as much as you can, just printing them once will not do the trick. “But I have them here in my book!” you might say. As with your goals and dreams, you need to take action and repeat YOUR positive affirmations daily. Just watch and see how your life will transform. If I can do it, you can do it too.
New Year, New You. This is absolutely possible and you are the only person who can renew and reinvent yourself. With every new year, comes the chance to look back on your last year and set resolutions on how to do/be/get better in the new year. Are you also one of the New Year’s resolutions setters? Or haters? How many people are actually able to keep up their resolutions? Or how many times have you heard or thought: New Year’s resolutions don’t work, goal setting is impossible, I just can’t stay motivated or “It is too hard”? Let me share five simple secrets with you how you will be able to achieve your goals this year and be excited to keep working on them. Yes working. The way to living the life of your dreams is work, but it should be fun, and it is definitely worth it.
For the bullet journal enthusiasts among you, I have included four spreads that you can steal to dream big, plan and achieve your goals in 2019!
Secret #1 Set inspired goals
When you start this process, allow yourself to dream big. Put every single goal, dream or wish you can come up with on a piece of paper, in a bullet journal or your preferred method of noting things down. Make sure though that you write it down. The act of putting words to a page, even if it is in digital form, allows your brain to let go of the thought and stops your mind from spiraling ineffectively about the same idea.
Now, look at your list and assess your thoughts and cross check them with your values and what will really bring you joy and fulfillment. Let go of the goals that you might think you have to strive for, or what you observe others do. Pick the top three that you feel excited about. This doesn’t mean you cannot achieve smaller goals on the side, but if you chose too many projects, you will most likely feel overwhelmed and be tempted to give up. Selecting the most important three goals will help you stay focused and on track. Remember, this is supposed to be fun as well.
Secret #2 Be realistic
While it is great to have big dreams and harbour them, it is also important to stay realistic. I would love to have my own digital product line and sell them successfully to thousands of people, but I realize that I will probably not be able to achieve this in this year. I have a full-time job and a family. It is more realistic for me to aim for creating and launching one digital product this year. This does not mean though you should refrain from setting the bar high. Go ahead and challenge yourself and don’t let fears hold you back. Stay true to your values and passions, consider the time you have available to work on your goals and the resources you can devote to them.
Secret #3 Be specific
Now that you have selected three goals, think about what success would look like. Play out the scenario in your head and try to capture the feeling you have when your dream has come true. Now, write down your three goals and be very specific how you describe them. Avoid any vague descriptions. This is one of the main reasons why most resolutions fail. Let’s say eating more healthy is your goal. What does this look like? Eat fewer carbs, less meat, more vegetables, decrease sugar? Consider what and why this is important to you. When you describe your goal in detail it is much easier to break it into actionable steps.
Secret #4 Take inspired action
How excited are you to start working on your goals right now? Very much? Can you see the steps you need to take to reach your goals and fulfill your dreams? Write down the steps you need to take on your way to success. The more steps you build in for you, the easier the process will become. Even a marathon runner takes each step at a time. Many small steps will bring you to the finish line.
Build in times to rest, to treat yourself for reaching a milestone making sure you have fun along the way. Along the way, have check-ins with yourself: “Does this goal still inspire me”? Circumstances and goals can change along the way. Don’t hold on to things that don’t suit you any longer. Rather adjust and tweak.
Secret #5 Hold yourself accountable
After you dreamed up your top three goals, envisioned success, evoked them using specific words and defined the steps you needed to take, you are now ready to hold yourself accountable.
You can do this in a variety of ways:
- Tell a friend and ask them to hold you accountable and cheer you on.
- Set milestones within a timeline
- Set a to-do list in your weekly bullet journal spread and make sure you work towards them.
- Reward yourself for reaching milestones (i.e buy a set of new brush pens that you are only allowed to use when you have reached a certain point. Make it interesting for yourself)
With each new point, I cannot quite make up my mind which is the most crucial step in the process, probably because they all depend on each other. And this true for this step as well. I am tempted to proclaim this as the most important step.
There will be times where you will want to give up, where you feel a lack of energy to pick up where you left off, where you feel overwhelmed or try to convince yourself that your goal is no longer important to you. This is your mind trying to trick you into going the path of least resistance. Don’t despair, this is normal. Just know that such a phase might hit you, I am in one right now. Push through. Your dreams are worth it!
Are you ready to rock 2019? What will inspire you to take action and hold yourself accountable? In order to achieve your big dreams this year, you will need to commit yourself to your dreams and goals! Work on them every day and you will succeed! You can do it!
Have you reviewed your year 2018 yet? But, aren’t New Year’s resolutions enough trouble? With this powerful end-of-year review you can assess and appreciate this past year in three simple steps for success in 2019.
Reviewing a year gone by, as much as any project at work, will help you celebrate your successes and give you a clear view of what worked and what you could do differently.
When you reflect on what went well, what was freaking awesome and what could have gone better, you will be able to rejig your approach and reset your goals for the year ahead. You’ll find good moments from the past year to commit to your memory, celebrate your victories and learn from your mistakes.
And the best part, it is lots of fun. In your end-of-year review, you’ll reminisce, note down everything that you feel is worthy of your time and attention, and then you can let go. Your paper, notebook, or bullet journal will hold the information for you and you can get back to it whenever you feel like it.
So how to best go about it? Here’s what you can do:
Currently, my favourite quote is: Happiness is perceived progress.
Look back at your past year and remember the good, the bad and the ugly. This will help you appreciate the progress you have made. A bullet journal is ideal for this. Every day I make a quick note on how I spent my free time. I either worked on my big goals or if I didn’t, I might have just taken the evening off. To me, that also counts as a win, as I always complained before about not having enough “down time”. Just the fact that I note it down, makes me realize that I do have time where I relax. My weekly goals help me stay on track and I can enjoy a “night off”. No more guilt! The secret is all in where your attention is on.
In your end-of-year review, jot down your thoughts based on the following categories
- Highlights of the past year
- To be Thankful for
- Lessons learned
- Things to improve
List of favourites:
- Funniest moment of the year
- New friend(s) you made
- Best food
- Treasured family memory
- Movie you liked the most
- Favourite song/band
These are two examples of how I reviewed my past year in my bullet journal:
Stargazer mind map
Level 10 Life
In step #2 you will reflect on your life by using a tool called Level 10 Life
This is how to do it: Decide on the areas of your life you would like to review. The list below may inspire you to find your own.
- Health and Fitness
- Fun and Recreation/leisure
- Home/Physical environment
- Personal Growth and Development
Choose 10 areas that resonate most with you or you find most important in your life.
Then, asses each area by asking yourself the following questions:
- On a scale from 1-10, with ten being the happiest/best, how would you rate your INSERT AREA 1?
- Why is your number at this level?
- What would it take to reach a higher level?
Note down all your answers and then move to the next area.
Level 10 Life is most times accompanied by the page Level 10 Goals. On it, you can write down your ideas on how to increase your happiness in this specific area. Remember the question you asked yourself earlier “What would it take to reach a higher level?” Your answer will guide you in filling out your goals.
For my bujo friends out there, you can also chart out your findings in this Level 10 chart
In my Level 10 Life I assessed the area spirituality with 7. My Level 10 Goals list that I could meditate to increase this area. I have heard so many good things about regular mediation but never got around to it. To be fair, I haven’t figured out yet how to include this into my daily routine, but I thought I could at least use daily affirmations to set myself up for success in the morning: Mini-meditation. Yay! And bam got one thing covered without stressing myself out about having to meditate daily.
19 before 2019
Are you still thinking about the dreaded resolutions? The ones that nobody ever keeps?
New Year’s resolutions cannot work if you don’t plan out your goals, break them into achievable steps AND have fun along the way. The 19 before 2019 bucket list is a fun way to end your year and might give you a head start on your resolutions.
On it, you come up with 19 things you want to be doing before the end of the year 2018. Make it to whatever you want! This is your list, it should not be arbitrary. Most importantly, you should have FUN with it.
Hope you had or will also have lots of fun with your review of 2018. Let me know how your review goes. I would love to hear from you.