Imagine this. A new Italian gelateria opened up in your neighbourhood. The reviews have been so positive that you really want to try it out for yourself. So you gather your family together and head out one Friday night.
You arrive to find that you weren’t the only one with this great idea. The gelateria is jam packed and there is a long line-up. Peering into the display case, you can’t believe how many choices there are. 50 flavours of ice cream in all! Plus optional toppings that make you drool.
So many possible combinations. How will you choose?
Well it turns out that the rest of your family is having the same challenge. They want your help in making their choices. Being the caretaker, of course you oblige. The line slowly moves until it’s finally your family’s turn. Time to order.
Everyone else gives their order first. Then it’s your chance. Go ahead. Tell the gelato scooper what you want.
Problem is that you still haven’t decided. You really have no idea what flavour you would like to try. You look up and down the case at all the options and your head starts to spin.
You feel the pressure of your family who just wants to pay so they can sit down and eat.
You feel the pressure of the scooper wanting to finish up so he can serve the next customer. And you certainly feel the pressure of all those glaring eyes from pacing people who are standing in the line behind you. Time’s up. You have to declare your flavour.
You still don’t know. So you fall back on one of your usual safe options. Vanilla. Small. In a cup. That will probably taste great. No topping. Can’t decide that either.
Oh well. At least you are going to enjoy some ice cream with your family. And when your colleagues ask if you’ve tried the new gelato place, you can say “yes”.
Stepping back into your daily routine, the pressure is on there too. You definitely have a lot on your plate.
There’s work, parenting, relationships, volunteering, and caring for aging parents; each role complex and with its own set of expectations. Plus, you are the family trip planner, organizer of celebrations, household manager, schedule maker, car pooler, meal planner – oh, and don’t forget to get those bills paid on time.
It’s a theme. Too many choices. Too much pressure. Too many people to be responsible to (and for). Too many tasks hanging over your head. Too many deadlines. Too many details. Simply too much.
All of this stress and responsibility and lists of “to do’s” and “shoulds” is making you feel completely overwhelmed. Sometimes you feel like your brain just doesn’t work anymore. You can’t think clearly or focus. Even the smallest decision or question – like “what’s for dinner?”, or “what kind of ice cream would you like?” – can get you all tied up in knots or kick your emotions into overdrive. Your cup is running over.
Add to this frustration the reality that, in your heart, you can’t remember why you’re doing much of what you’re doing anymore. Life feels like it’s more routine than meaning. You feel like you’re going to drown. So you just keep treading water and try not to think about it. But you know there must be more to life than this.
Sure you make it through the day. On the outside you probably look like you’re pretty fabulous. After all, you are able to juggle everything without falling apart – most days. But it’s all feeling like a façade. Like the image of the duck calmly plodding along on top of the water but its legs are chaotically kicking below to keep it moving forward fast enough to get over the next wave.
You know that you don’t want to (or can’t) keep on going this way. You want to have energy and confidence to be proactive with the bigger, more meaningful decisions in your life. You want to feel happier and to know that you’re living your true potential.
So you know that something has to give. But you’re not really sure where or how to start. A little guidance would make a big difference.
This is just a story. But tell me, does any of it ring true for you?
Have you come to the point in your life when you’re realizing that you have spent years living this way? Under a fog. Just going with the flow. Settling for good enough. Putting everyone and everything else first. Not really knowing what you want so you can’t choose what would give you the most pleasure?
You’re not alone. Which is kind of sad really: all that untapped joy and potential.
I am no stranger to this type of frustration. Then I learned how to make positive changes and, after doing so, developed the Create Your Life Steps retreat and coaching to help other women like me along their own path.
In the next four articles, I will share the Create Your Life Steps with you so that you will have tips and tricks to help turn this story of overwhelm and indecision into a structured approach to reducing frustration and creating your best life.