I can be easily overwhelmed, and usually just by a few thoughts entering my head. How about you?
Works like this – I’ll have a moment of confidence that I am on track with my duties and opportunities, then get sidelined by the thought that basically says “I can’t get there from here.” Next thing you know, that second thought becomes more real than the first. And they’re basically both just this: thoughts.
For me, the best antidote to a flailing thought process is an action step.
That’s how I completed a publishing project, for example. Five years ago, I self-published a book from start to finish, which I had no idea how to do and during which I frequently felt overwhelmed. Yet when the project seemed too far-reaching to complete, I could bring it down to a few decision items. What size should the book be? What should the page margins be? How much room should there be for the gutter between the pages?
Each little question became something I could figure out. I could start my own reconnaissance mission where I would, say, drive to a book store to see what kind of gutters usually separate pages these days. That action step would give me a jolt of energy to get through the next action step.
So this is what works for me: get to the big picture by answering the little-picture questions.
Here’s another thing that is very helpful that I often (almost always) forget. See how much of your big picture is already here.
I’m always chasing an idea, a concept, a dream, a vision. There’s always something out there in the distance that I am trying to get to. Problem is, I forget to enjoy the journey and to delight in the unfolding mysteries therein. As a result, I get overwhelmed and think “I can’t get there from here.”
I’m a member of a creativity group led by Jill Badonsky, author of The Nine Day Modern Muses (and a Bodyguard), in which she offers guides to creative inspiration. One point in her book that especially stood out to me is where she writes about how it’s important to be aware of what is happening right now in your creative life and not look as if a dream or vision is faraway – somewhere in an unattainable distance.
Jill writes, “I had a dream that my vision was always in the future – like a mirage. I sure hoped it would come true. I did not realize that so many elements of my dream already exist in the present.”
In other words, the big picture may be closer than you realize. If, for example, you describe the kind of person you want to become, you may be describing the kind of person you are becoming.
An analogy – When I buy clothes, I sometimes buy something I already have. I don’t know if you’ve ever done this, but I’ll see something in a store and think “yes, that’s what I want.” Then I bring it home and notice that the thing I was looking for is quite similar to what I already have.
So I’m suggesting that we recognize how much of what we seek is something that is already here and available. Maybe things like love, joy, peace, hope… all the good things of life.
I like these verses from Deuteronomy 30:11-14: “Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, ‘Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?’ Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, ‘Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?’ No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.’”
Take notice of the life you’re living, the gifts you have received, the blessings in your midst, and the opportunities that are before you. Many good things are already here. And in case you need this reminder as I often do: Don’t be so future-focused that you overlook the wonders of the “right now.”
Enjoy your magnificent journey!
— Minnie Lamberth
The Magnificent Journey
Vol. 2, Issue 1