It’s easy to get overwhelmed when we look at the big picture. We can feel anxious just thinking about everything that’s ahead of us. Sometimes it can even shut us down. That’s why lately I’ve been encouraging my clients to just “take the next right step.” Unless you’re getting a hard “no” on proceeding, then just zoom in on your path, make a micro goal and take the next baby step forward.
I remember starting my MSW degree a year after I had my first child. I looked over all the courses I had to take to graduate, while I was holding my 1 year old son and thought to myself…..
“I’m NEVER going to finish!”
My moms wise words rang true. She said “just take it 1 class at a time and pretty soon, you’ll be done. Don’t look at the whole degree today, just enroll for the first class and go from there!”
She was right!
And that was something I wanted to do. I signed up for that degree! I committed to it. It wasn’t something that was happening to me.
Of course there are life events that happen to us too. And those can be incredibly difficult to move through.
Like divorces, losses, job changes, medical diagnoses and the complexities of relationship situations that feel overwhelming and too big to handle sometimes.
Sometimes we feel like shutting down. Try not to get attached to the outcome. When we flash forward to a future hypothetical scenario, we can tailspin into an anxious tornado of scary possibilities. Our mind is great at projecting the worst! When we feel out of control, it’s odd and paradoxical, but we think we feel more in control when we run through a million possible ideas in our heads so we “feel prepared” in case the worst thing does occur.
The problem with that is, it doesn’t actually help.
If we actually do have to face a future hardship, we will feel it and process it in the moment it happens. Preparing ahead for the worst possible outcome doesn’t make it feel lighter if it does occur. And if we’re anxious about it – we will have also imagined what could happen and how it could feel and how we might process it before it ever happens – IF it even does happen!
Sometimes we need perspective in our lives. Sometimes we need to broaden our view and see the big picture. Other times, we benefit from zooming in and just looking at the baby steps right in front of us.
So, if you find yourself in a situation that feels so overwhelming you are struggling to cope – pause, take a breath and center yourself. Then focus inward, zoom in to the micro lens and just take a tiny baby step forward.
You don’t have to have all the answers today.
Just take the next right step.