Last month, I was becoming very overwhelmed. My day job had become hectic and frustrating. My business was starting to grow and I needed to find time to attend to everything within it. It seemed like I couldn’t keep up and I felt like throwing in the towel so many times.
My weekends were the only time I felt energized and motivated enough to focus, but they were also the only time for chores, household jobs and spending time with my kittens. So, without fail, Thursday would arrive and I would start to panic. I mean, I had a list of 25+ things to accomplish in less than 2 days! And some of those things took hours! What was I going to do?!?!
I started sitting down with a pen and a piece of paper on Thursday mornings and writing out all the things I wanted to get done by Sunday evening. Then, I would earmark up to 4 tasks that HAD to get done, the top priorities. I’d schedule those into my days over the weekend.
Next, I’d prioritize a couple more tasks and find times where I could do those. And, whatever was left, I came up with ways to make them easier (like ordering groceries for pickup instead of wasting an hour in the store on a busy Saturday morning) or I would push off the easier things to weeknights.
This totally helped me feel at ease. And prevented that weekend overwhelm where I would literally sit there and wonder how I could accomplish anything in those few spare hours…thus completely wasting time and making myself even more stressed out.
Goals to the Rescue
I’m about to suggest something that might seem a little counterintuitive … but it’s actually pretty amazing advice (I’m not taking credit for it).
There are times in life when we really feel the stress – whether it’s everyday stress because of hectic schedules or because of job changes, life changes, or even changes in our health.
Stress can make us feel overwhelmed and out of control, and it can even feed on itself, making it worse!
The good news is that there is something you can do to help get you through…
Set a goal!
OK, so you might be wondering why it’s a good idea to add another thing to your to-do list when you’re already feeling stressed. Legit question.
Having a goal actually narrows down your focus, and helps give you a sense of purpose. Both of those factors can actually cut back on your stress.
I’m giving credit for this nugget to Dr. Ann Webster, a health psychologist who was quoted in the Harvard Health letter.
“When people set goals for themselves, they have a positive sense of commitment, feel they’re in control, and are optimistic,” says Dr. Webster.
One of the things I like about having specific goals is that they help block out distractions.
For instance, if I need to finish some important emails this week, I have to schedule time for those in my calendar. Then, I am committed to sitting quietly and writing during those hours. Of course, this may mean skipping out on something else during those hours but I have chosen to focus on what’s important that week.
Where to Focus Your Goals
It’s a good idea to have goals for your health, career, relationships, creativity and even for recreation/fun.
However, if you’re already feeling stressed, that’s a lot of goals to work toward at the same time. Instead, mix and match your goals to suit your most important interests. And, really, keep the goals small enough that you can complete them within a couple of weeks.
This may mean having only 1-2 goals at the same time. Which is fine!
When to Focus on Your Goals
If you’re in the middle of a busy season at work, it might not be the best time to decide to go full steam ahead into training for a marathon. But it might be the perfect time to lay a stronger cardio fitness base so that when your schedule DOES ease up, you are ready to tackle the training.
Having that strong sense of purpose will pull you through your stressful time and make it seem a lot less daunting.
Setting Goals for Your Nutrition
This works really well for nutrition goals as well. In fact, the smaller the goal, the more likely you’ll achieve it and turn its outcome into a habit.
Let’s say you have a goal of preparing your meals ahead of time this month. You do this because you want to eat healthier, lose a little weight, and save a little money.
When you focus on getting this done, you’ll be amazed at how much space this frees up in your life!
You’ll save time, eliminate the daily “what’s for dinner?” question, and also spend a LOT less time and money at the grocery store. It’s amazing how much mental space you can clear when your meals are already prepared!
And if you’re going through an extra tough time right now, consider setting a really exciting goal… because it can be incredibly energizing and help you take your focus off some of the other things going on.
Fat Loss Goals Too
Yes, even weight loss goals can be broken down into smaller steps. First and foremost, you must stop believing that weight loss is or can be quick – it’s not. If you lose weight quickly, you will definitely gain it all back. It’s a journey, not a sprint.
For women over 35, hormonal fat loss is definitely something that takes a bit of time. First you have to figure out what foods, especially carbs, your body is not fond of, and work on eliminating them. Then, you need to start eating for hormonal health in order to keep insulin low and glucagon high. Finally, you need to learn how to get right back on track after an indulgence with the right plan. All of this is within my 40 or Less Method, a hormonal fat loss system designed to help women create food habits that lead to long-term fat loss.