The year I turned 29 felt disastrous. At least in my mind, it did. All year I thought: ‘Just one more year in my 20’s’. Along with the suffocating feeling that I hadn’t done half the things I’d expected by that time in life.
Then came my 35th birthday (out of nowhere). What a total mess! I was behind on every marker of what 35 should look like.
In retrospect, it wasn’t a mess at all, just the side-effect of conscious choices I had made. But you couldn’t tell my mind that at the time.
Right then, on my 35th birthday, I realized that 29 hadn’t been so bad after all. 35 was much worse. The pile of ‘Im-so -behind-I-can’t-believe-I haven’t-done-that-yet-had-gotten-bigger.
It has a funny way of doing that.
That’s the macro-high-level view.
Let’s take a look at the micro, daily view.
It gets worse. A lot worse. Imagine a tiny bunny, struggling, hopping along trying to keep up with a large cat. Strange thought, I know. But that’s how day-to-day sometimes feels.
Like I’m always behind on something. I’m struggling and hopping and bobbing up and down. But I’m still behind. On everything. From the big life-goal stuff to the smaller to-do list items.
Here’s what I do to stop that feeling
I do a reset. And it calms me down and vanquishes that I’m–so- behind-feeling. At least for a while.
I reflect on the following 6 questions and write about them in my journal. Try it and see how it works for you.
I do this a few times a year when the feeling sneaks up again.
6 things to ask yourself and Journal Write when you’re feeling behind
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Take the time to write out the answers to these prompts. To get rid of that overwhelming feeling, you have to stop yourself and get to the root of where that feeling is coming from. Then, you can take the steps to dismantle it.
You’ll never feel completely on top of everything.
Unless, of course, you choose to do nothing, have no ambition, and not accomplish much in life. And I’m not talking about grand accomplishments. The simple day-to-day tasks we have are enough to feel defeated. That feeling will always have some residue remaining in your mind.
It just doesn’t have to consume you.
This post will give you a helpful approach for big goals and the daily to-do’s.
Ready? Let’s go…
1. Whose standard are you living to?
Somewhere between Kindergarten and well-meaning parents and college advisors, we get this idea of what life should look like. And by what age you ‘should’ accomplish – and accumulate – certain ‘things’.
When life doesn’t match that mental picture that’s been enforced on us since childhood, you feel a disconnect. Like things are wrong and you’re behind.
You’ll drive yourself to illness trying to live up to other people’s ideas of what you should be doing, how, and by when.
You set the standard for your life.
Just you. And you’re infinitely more awesome than you think you are. Don’t believe it?
2. Are you setting unrealistic goals and tasks?
You’re a smart person, and you understand the constraints of time. Yet somehow you expect to do 38 hours of ‘things’ in 24 hours.
How do I know you do this? Because I do that, too.
The surest way to feel ‘behind’ is if you constantly set unrealistic expectations for yourself and then keep adding more day by day.
Do a brain dump of the zillion things swirling through your mind. I know, scary. But it’ll help you feel better. Then you can set some realistic targets for getting stuff done. But there’s something you must keep in mind when doing this. See #3.
3. How long will things really take?
Everything will take longer than you think. Everything.
That’s become a life mantra for me.
Want to write an article? lose 15 lbs? train for a marathon? Climb Kilimanjaro? polish your toenails? Cook something ‘interesting’? Build your blog?
It will all take longer than you think.
Remember that when you set a plan to lose 15 pounds in a month.
Won’t happen. And thank goodness for that.
Start setting real, attainable goals. Stretching yourself is good, yes. But actually being able to achieve the goals, targets, and daily ‘must-do’s’ is even better.
4. Are gaining awareness and learning?
Take this approach: the longer something takes: the more you’ll learn.
There’s always something to learn. From everything.
Took you longer than expected to lose the weight? Why? What happened? Did you stall yourself? Could you have done things differently? Or did you just underestimate the time it would take?
That recipe you tried took way longer than you’d counted on for preparation? Why? You don’t need to get philosophical here, but even just knowing this helps you the next time you attempt that recipe.
There’s always something to learn.
5. Do you actively (and consistently) forgive yourself?
If you live in a world of beating yourself up for being behind, you’ll also live in a world where it’s hard to actually make any progress. Your energy is scattered and in the back of your mind your a failure. All BS, of course.
Be kinder to yourself. Didn’t
6. Got big dreams that feel too far away? Be real with yourself: are you really even taking actions on your dreams or just pretending to?
this last one’s not so nice, but you may need the reality check: stop making lists and saving articles and reading books about that thing you want to do….and start doing it. Set a plan in motion. a step.
If you really want to make it happen, you have to figure out what steps you need to take. Tiny steps. Not the big ones. Everything starts first with just a tiny step. Maybe researching what you want and what you need to first do. Maybe connecting with others who you can help and who can help you or teach you something.
And the quickest way to stop feeling so behind?
Stop and take a few deep breaths.
And works every time. Count in your head few a few seconds while you take the deep breaths. Focus on the now. The present.
There is no behind.
There is only now.
What strategies do you use when feeling behind? Leave a comment below.