Tag Archives: life

Overwhelm? Get S.M.A.R.T

OVERWHELM POST”One step at a time. Focusing on the next step is the best way to avoid overwhelm” – Dan O’Donnell

Life can be overwhelming

Yet it’s not always a bad thing. Lately this subject has cropped several times with friends & family and honestly a couple of them have been on the back of an avalanche of good things happening to some. The overwhelm elements there being those of surprise & gratitude.

It becomes problematical when the time we have to do the things which we need/are expected to becomes……the ‘’not enough hours in a day’’ syndrome.

Obviously everyone’s different but I don’t think I know anyone who hasn’t experienced this occasionally?

We reach the stage of being lost because we’re totally overwhelmed by what life throws at us; the kids, finances, work etc and we don’t have the time to deal with them.

We know then it’s time to pause, take a step back, breathe and reassess what’s happening. Because let’s face it the feeling of total, utter and complete stressed out panic that kicks in once we reach this crisis point is something we can all do without.

For me I honestly think I’d prefer a broken limb than suffer the anguish brought about by allowing myself to get to this stage, yet………Get there I have, time after relentless time until during a particularly stressful (and trust me I do stress really, really well) time not long ago I decided that was it.


What the hell was I playing at?

Despite making enormous headway turning almost every area of my life around and allowing myself to be justifiably proud of doing so, I STILL allowed myself to dragged down by overwhelm.

Something had to change before I metaphorically managed to single handedly drown myself!

But what?

Now, I think I’m a fairly intelligent member of the human race but there are times when I astound even myself at how often I seem unable to see the wood for the trees…..the bigger picture!


The time available in any one day is ALWAYS finite!

I guess like most of us I’m busy everyday with family, working, chores, grocery shopping…..I hate grocery shopping…appointments etc let alone trying to factor in that all too precious chunk of ‘’me time’’ we should all make time for daily BUT which is usually the first casualty when it comes to ‘’getting things done’’…..GUILTY as charged your honor!!

So what next?

I decided to prioritize MYSELF & my time…EVERY day….and as far in advance as I could realistically manage…!

Mmmm first stumbling block – my organisational skills or rather lack of them!

BUT it’s amazing what you can do when you set your mind to it and I was done with being overwhelmed. This mind was well and truly set on a change for the better!

Having had ‘’stern words with myself’’ I started making plans.

During my years working in the Special Needs sector of the UK education system we used the S.M.A.R.T principle, which basically means;

Specific. Measurable. Achievable. Realistic. Targets.

My ‘’ battle plan’’ began to take shape

SPECIFIC: set a goal which would improve my quality of life
MEASURABLE: it would be attainable within a given time frame
ACHIEVABLE: break it down into smaller ‘’chunks’’ to better define progress
REALISTIC: given the constraints of (in my case) available time
TARGET: successfully reach the aim of my original goal

Well that was a bit of a light bulb moment!

As I’ve said there are times when I’m slow to see the bigger picture. I spent roughly 14 years working with special needs students using this exact same technique with…if I say so myself…. amazing success YET until push came to shove in this particular area it had never entered this scrambled egg of a brain of mine to transfer that same skill set to my personal life!

What was it I said before about ‘’wood for the trees’’?.

Setting myself up to succeed

Having formed my initial plan I took time to fine tune it and came up with a solid foundation upon which to build.

Going forward I planned my time using nothing more than lists & chunking them up into definite time frames. For arguments sake we’ll say hours & days. Measuring the effectiveness or otherwise based solely on what had/hadn’t been accomplished on my list given that I had deliberately restricted the time I had to address each one. The deliberate action of restricting time meant I had no choice but to be honest as to what I hoped to achieve and as a result it became a realistic expectation that I would indeed realise my goal…hit my target if you like of actually improving my quality of life.

It’s ironic!

Speaking as someone who is quite spontaneous by nature and who rarely even used a shopping list for the dreaded grocery shop…..I morphed into someone who now has lists for everything…..I even have a list of my lists to keep track of my own best intentions! Seriously I do…..although I do have to police that particular trait as if I’m not careful it fuels my O.C.D oriented brain (a post in it’s own right).

Yet lists……nothing new, fancy or technological………literally stopped me in my tracks by making me look to that bigger picture.

A pad, a pen and Notepad on my phone gave me the visual stimulus I needed to put my house in order!

Obviously I also needed to be persistent enough to make this a habit but once it was, there was absolutely no stopping me. I no longer allow myself to try and cram more into a day than I KNOW I have a realistic chance of achieving. Each and every list is in itself prioritized…most to least important and I’ve learned to accept that the world won’t spontaneously combust if  I don’t tick everything off the blessed thing by the end of the day.


The biggest lesson of all and the one which probably prevented nervous breakdown number 4 or was it 5?

No one is perfect, we all have different stresses, strains & demands on our time and at the end of each day IF we’ve done our best then that’s all anyone including us can ask…….tomorrow is another day and we can always start another list!


Thanks for taking the time to read this, stay S.M.A.R.T!


Promise Yourself………..

Promise Yourself Blog Header

”A promise to yourself is a direct reflection of the love you have for yourself”
Steve Maraboli

Promise Yourself…

I’m sure most of us have been guilty at times of making excuses to put off something we’ve promised ourselves faithfully that we’ll do?

If you’re anything like me those odd occasions will have turned slowly but surely into an extensive unfulfilled wish list, it came as a massive shock when I realized how many of these promises I had broken!

Why had I let that happen?

With time on my hands recently after a round of medical interventions. I started thinking about my life issues including that of unfinished business.


I kept coming back to the fact that I had lost the knack of keeping the promises I had made to and for myself, I couldn’t grasp why I had allowed this to happen?? Because after all………………………….

Promises made to ourselves are just as important as those we make to others FACT!


When I thought about the sheer number I had made myself historically, I was stunned how many of them I hadn’t fulfilled, let slide etc then it struck me, no matter how I couched it….these were all BROKEN PROMISES! 

My inaction.  My responsibility.  My consequences.  Broken promises to me. For me,  By me.

I’d allowed my self-talk, to talk me out of not only my hopes and dreams but things which would actually have been my right to have or do. There they lay impotent, strewn across the years and I had allowed it to happen.

Promises ranging from carving out regular ”me time” to making extended trips abroad, and everything in between, the list is endless BUT…….it doesn’t matter what the promises were/are…..what matters is that I DIDN’T see them through to their conclusion.

I must have had good reason?

Initially I decided that ”I just hadn’t wanted them enough”….. Or in some instances at all!

It was a short-lived thought as I recalled how much some of these things had meant to me and how determined I’d been to have/do them, then……… I remembered long since forgotten feelings and emotions…..my passion if you will for certain things and it saddened me to recall how that same passion had diminished to the point of extinction over the years.

The fire in my belly….. which caused me to make these promises to myself, had quite simply…...GONE OUT!


Why had I let so many things fall by the wayside? It took a while but eventually clarity struck, the simple fact was that I had kept putting the needs and wishes of others before mine to the point that somewhere along the line it became second nature.

Second nature to always put others first?

It all starts

Regardless of my own plans, feelings and commitments? The number of occasions I recalled for instance when on receiving a phone call from someone along the lines of
”Sue, are you doing anything on Saturday night?” My stock answer was always ‘No nothing important why?’ and even before they would ask I knew that my answer would be yes and any plans I had would be shelved to be rescheduled which invariably never happened.

The stark reality was that no matter the situation whether it was a favour for a friend, changing plans at the last-minute using lame reasoning and so on.

It became the norm. 

The broken promises and the reasons for not fulfilling them is staggeringly endless but the bottom line is that every single reason was without exception in actual fact an excuse.

I’d convinced myself that it wasn’t a problem but it also meant I didn’t have to confront the real issue which was I’d come to believe that;

I along with my hopes, my plans, and my dreams came a poor second in comparison to everyone else. In short…I didn’t matter.

There it was! 

My lifelong battle with Mental Ill Health not to mention my fairly ”spectacular” battle with the demon drink had without doubt robbed me of the two things we all need in life to help us function in a mentally healthy and positive manner…my senses of self-esteem & self-worth.

They’d long since been left by the wayside by a mind which had all too willingly relinquished them in the ”pecking order” of the things I’d deemed to be more important!

After almost all my adult life it hit me like a ton of bricks I actually really did believe deep down that others, their needs and wants were far more worthy of my time, my efforts and my love than…me. 


Well no more!

I decided that enough was enough. I needed to reclaim my right to be able to keep my promises to myself without making excuses to anyone….including me!

I realised that the first thing I had to do was reprogram my self talk.

Making progressConvincing myself that making and keeping of promises to my self was an essential part self-care rather than being selfish was something which I’d battled historically with as I tried to present myself as self-less. I’d spent years putting myself last for fear of being deemed selfish by others if I ‘’let them down’’ or God forbid put myself first for once.

Now that really would have been selfish wouldn’t it? ………..Of course not!

I now know that for sure and following my recent musings I finally gave myself permission to acknowledge and accept the following as fact.

A promise is a promise regardless of who it’s made to, including ourselves!

By not keeping a promise to myself the only person I’m letting down is ourselves!

Saying yes to keeping a promise to myself at the expense of saying no to someone else doesn’t mean that they’ll think badly of me.

By putting myself first it doesn’t mean that I ever have to justify myself to anyone especially me.

So where does all this leave me? 

Well my self-esteem and self-worth have soared in turn leading to an increase in confidence. I’m secure in that when I’ve said no to someone because I’m already doing something, they don’t love me any the less for it. However the icing on the cake is that I now have the courage of my convictions and that courage brings me ever closer to being my authentic self.

That’s to say I’m happier to be a first-rate version of myself than I ever was being a second-rate version of that which I thought others wanted me to be.

I consider myself to be a work in progress but in moving forward and making the choices that I am, I’m moving closer to being what I long ago promised myself I would be and that is…whole.