Please note that Current of Life was previously published under the title: Living Your Potential
From the series: Breaking Through Overwhelm
Overwhelm: Don't Get Too Used To It
It seems that a fact of modern life is getting acquainted with the state of overwhelm. We are overwhelmed by the speed of information coming at us, conflicting demands on our time, and the myriad of choices we have. While it’s true that being in overload from time to time comes with the territory, there is a significant difference between overwhelm as a temporary state and overwhelm as a bad habit or way of life. The cost of operating this way all the time is that urgency tends to rule and our ability to solve problems or be creative is eroded, along with our overall effectiveness and sense of accomplishment.
On the other hand, the benefit of learning how to manage overwhelm is being more effective, creative, and satisfied, even when life is hectic.
The next time you have that feeling of too much work and too little time, ask yourself these three questions. Apply them to the specific situation that is vexing you.
1. What is necessary?
The first two questions help you distinguish between what you need to do and what you want to do. This is often exactly the distinction that is required to move ahead. Ironically, once it’s broken down this way, your chances actually increase of getting to the “what is possible” level. Sometimes you’ll find that the answers to these questions simply validate the approach you are taking, while other times they will lead you to focus your efforts in a new way.
The third question helps you identify your next step. Another way of asking it is to say, “What’s the best thing I can do right now?”
Start By Doing What's Necessary
Take these three questions into your week and notice what happens. Stephen Covey reminds us that there is always something which must be done first. Apparently this reminder has been needed throughout time. Even in the 13th century, St. Francis of Assisi spoke similar words of reassurance:
"Start by doing what's necessary, then do what's possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible."
© 2005, Virginia M. Kravitz and In the Current®. All Rights Reserved. You are welcome to reproduce this article provided it is without any alteration, includes the copyright above, and if distributing electronically includes a link to www.inthecurrent.com.