Today I want to talk about one of the worst words in the world: OVERWHELMED.
Overwhelmed is the feeling that crushes me into the black pit more than almost
anything else. When I get overwhelmed—with what I need to do, with everything I need to be, in order not to
let anyone down, with all the daily and weekly and monthly and yearly tasks involved in being a writer and a mother and a wife and a pet owner and a citizen of my community/city/state/country/world…I start to fall apart.
It’s hard to admit this stuff. I often feel like a total failure, or the biggest loser in the world, when I write these posts for public consumption. But my personal goal in life is to combat the stigma attached to mental illness. Or, to put it a different way:
I get to feel like a loser so you don’t have to!! ????
But here’s the thing that finally became clear to me and saved me from giving up completely:
We only have to do one thing at a time.
I have this great task management software, www.Todoist.com, that I really like. I break up my work into projects, and only look at one project at a time. But only this week, I discovered that in tiny print at the top of the page is a counter of your TOTAL TOTAL projects.
Or, as I saw and nearly went into cardiac arrest, the fact that I have 2,123 things on my To Do list.
And that’s only my WORK to do list.
It was enough to knock me back in my chair. Just last year, it would have been enough to knock me back in my black pit.
But here’s the thing: I can do All The Things, or at least the IMPORTANT ones, if I just focus on one at a time.
I had lunch with a friend today who is wonderful and warm and funny and smart. And she’s considering indie publishing but has been trapped in the same mindset of “I’m so stupid, why didn’t I start this before?” where I was a year ago. So I said to her:
YES. We should have started this mammoth project earlier. But you know what? We don’t want to be having this same conversation in 2020. Instead, when we get to 2020 we can look back and pat ourselves on the back for starting now.
It’s about taking the long view. Sometimes the loooooooooooooong view. Because those 2,123 things? They won’t do themselves. But guess what? Now I’m down to 2,122.
And next week I’m going to talk about getting help, because – SHOCKINGLY!! – we don’t have to do it all ourselves.
PS Please feel free to share with anyone who suffers with mental health issues. We’re all in this together.