As you know, I’m quite radical in most of the things I do. I save over half of my income, I go all in on my work, then I decide I want to take four months of mini-retirement. Sometimes I need to slow myself down. I am feeling overwhelmed and remind myself of the power of small changes.
If you’re in the process of making changes, it can be hard. You make the change at the beginning of the process, but now you’re waiting for the end result. The tendency is to skip over the middle. The result? At times, it can feel like you’re going nowhere. Like when you start working towards financial independence, you know what the end goal is and after a year you’re 10% in.
A thing to keep in mind when you’re feeling overwhelmed: trust the process and don’t underestimate the power of small changes.
In the entire process, there are big parts we don’t see. The process is simply not interesting to most. People are not getting excited when a millionaire explains that being frugal, saving their raises, and working on their skills is the way they got that million. These stories don’t sell.
Even though they don’t sell, it’s important to tell them. They are more helpful than any of the quick success stories. Why? Simply because they are closer to the truth. People that want to live the life you’re living, have to make the decisions you’re making. Not all of them, but the crucial ones.
For example, some people ask me why I one day decided to work towards financial independence. They expect me to say that one day I woke up, read something, and radically reshaped my life. That just isn’t true. I’ve read a few books, did a lot of research, ran the numbers, did some more research, and I’m still optimizing and learning. It was the accumulation of things I did that moved me into making the changes in my life.
There is no simple solution if you want to become financially independent. It’s a slow game, where you will get impatient and want to be there yesterday. You have to go through that. It’s part of the process. It’s the importance of the middle.
We’re living in a world where we see instant gratification all the time. When we go to the supermarket if we’re craving something, snooze in the morning, when we buy that car now with a high-interest loan rather than to save for it. Everything is available instantly. Sometimes that’s great, sometimes it’s not.
For some things, however, we simply cannot expect results instantly. We shouldn’t expect results instantly for everything. We cannot give up when results are not instant.
By doing something, by taking any action, you are by definition never standing still. You are moving towards your goal and you are going in the right direction. As long as you don’t give up, it’s certain that you will get there. It might take some time, you might have to be patient, and it will for sure take a lot of effort, but you will get where you want to be without doubt.
How To Implement Small Changes When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed
There are small changes that you can make into your life to stop feeling overwhelmed. Small changes that will help you reach the bigger changes that are natural and sometimes spontaneous.
In order to implement small changes into your life when you’re feeling overwhelmed, here are some tips that I implement in my life.
1. Start With A List
I write a list of goals down on the blog every month. This is my guide for the month. Those vary from things like “ workout 3x per week” to things like “get 1100 Pinterest followers”.
I will have these bigger goals and break them down. For example, I would say that I want to pin on Pinterest once per day, I want to find 10 new people to follow every day, and I want to join 2 group boards every week. It will not feel like a lot, but the small changes will be adding up.
2. Don’t Pressure Yourself
After you’ve created your list, let it to. Don’t pressure yourself to accomplish everything on your list. Allow yourself NOT to accomplish. If you’re pressuring yourself it might help on the short term, but on the long term it might cause you to give up altogether.
If you don’t finish your list, that’s totally okay. That simply means there is another time and place for that.
3. Focus On The Positive
I firmly believe that how you do anything is how you do everything. This indicates that your actions can take you very far if you’re consistent in your behavior.
Focus on the fact that the small changes you’re introducing in your life will have an effect. Even if you can’t see it at this moment, change will come.
4. Go With The Flow
Often when we’re focusing on specific goals or things we want to accomplish in life, we create expectations for ourselves. Try to shift your focus from these expectations to go with the flow.
Expectations often put a pressure on us that we aren’t enough. Know that you are enough, you’ve always been enough. Let go of any expectations and go with the flow!
5. Slow And Steady Wins The Race
Slow and steady. But mostly steady!
It’s more important to keep going than to take the radical 10X action and give up after a few weeks.
You probably know the metaphor of the snowball. Once you made a change, the next change becomes easier and easier.
6. Be The River
“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” — Lao Tzu
In a contest between a rock and a river, the river always wins. The river follows the path that is called on it by natural forces. The rock is stock where it is, pushing back against the river. Over a long period of time, the river can shape the rock. It can go over, under, around, or through the rock.
This is another metaphor to show that going with the flow, even when that flow is slow, is the easiest and most sustainable way to go.
Every day when you get up, you can decide whether you want to be the rock or the river. I spent many years being the rock, trying to resist or manipulate changes that were taking place. I didn’t trust the unknown. Over the last few years, I’ve learned how to trust and surrender to the flow that is our life.
I try to become the river more often than the rock. Why? Because that brings inner peace, which is invaluable to me. I appreciate my life more when I go with the flow and release control.
What do you do when you’re feeling overwhelmed?
This article first appeared on Radical FIRE and has been republished with permission.