First, it’s not that you’re not overwhelmed. Your body would shut down, and you would die if you were. You only feel overwhelmed, which is far more frustrating.
George Dantzig (not the singer) posed that the number of possible outcomes for a problem is larger than the number of observations we can make about the problem.
Essentially, you’ll never know how to solve a problem until after you’ve solved it because the circumstances change along the way.
So, here’s how you use Dantzig’s genius to fix your overwhelmed mind and to-do list. We’ll use your list of how to create your best year. (“Mothers” playing in the background is optional)
1) Look at your list. We’re going to trim it. It helps to see your list, but think for a moment about all the other things you’ve got going on. Do you REALLY think each of these things equally deserves your hard-earned time and energy? Cut whatever you think would be nice, and keep what MUST happen.
This year, I was in Sweden for an event and got to speak on the same stage as the CEO of Eleiko, Erik Blomberg. He said, “if you have more than three priorities, you have no priorities.” That hit me. I immediately put four things on my to-do list. But really, his talk was worth spending my birthday on an airplane for.
2) Are you expecting a miracle? What’s remaining on this list that isn’t in your control? Something can be significant, hell, you can even stress over it if that helps you process it, but it hasn’t earned a spot on this list. If a miracle needs to happen (or if stars need to align and old gods appear) for you to have a chance of following through on something, set it aside for a day when you aren’t overwhelmed.
3) The end. Just kidding. Finally, you need to take the remaining 2-3 big changes in your life and make them small enough for you to do. How do you eat a whale? No, not one bite at a time. You eat it when it’s caviar. Is that how baby whales work? I missed Nat Geo day in middle school.
Everyone’s told you to break down everything into steps, but the size of the steps matters.
If I want to lose 10 lbs (which I’ve done multiple times), I only focus on losing the FIRST pound.
Outcome: Look and feel like I did when three years ago. I was lean and strong and looked like I do in all of these thirst traps I’ve been posting on Facebook lately.
Why: I deserve to feel that way again. If I don’t do it now, I’ll keep sliding toward the “has-been” I never want to become. I’ll still have this dad-bod even though I feel like the Italian Stallion on the inside, sans the Italian.
Things I would do for this:
- Fitness: Work out at least three times per week and walk the dogs on nice days.
- Nutrition: Figure out what I need to eat and stay at it!
- Accountability Sign up for a 5k to keep me on track.
Back-Build my list: (starting with my outcome and working backward to step one)
Let’s do Nutrition, for example.
- Book at least one consult with a nutrition coach today.
- Sign up with a nutrition coach.
- Dig out the scale and my crockpot. Get a starting weight.
- Grab some healthy food I enjoy at the grocery, but stay open to new ideas from the coach.
- Set out my workout clothes for the next three days.
- Text my family or friend that I’m doing this! Tell them I’ll update them every Monday on my progress.
- Follow my homework from the coach.
- Work out three times.
- Weigh myself one week from now.
- Send my progress to my friend/family and my coach.
The two most important things about this list are how small the steps are and that the steps are broken down until I can take the first step within the next five minutes. *or at least today.
When you do this, you can start stacking all these wins that start small but accumulate in something bigger. Booking one consult with a nutrition coach really does turn into sending a progress pic to a friend.
This system works, but only if you do. (I hate cliches, but tis true.)
I’ve given you the what, why, and how. If that’s not worked for you in the past, here’s my advice. Replace “how” with “who.”
Who has done this and has a track record of success? Who has it down to science? Who can I model? Go take them out for coffee and ask if you can learn from them. OR you can hire one of my team, and let us guide you.