Want to change your life, but utterly overwhelmed?
Satisfaction with UK living standards are the lowest they’ve been since 2014, a survey by Which? has revealed, with low incomes and soaring living costs playing a major role.
People are yearning for change post-pandemic too. More than a third of Brits are planning radical life changes ‘after the worst two years of their life’, according to a poll by StoryTerrace (storyterrace.com).
As the old adage goes, a change can be as good as a rest – but when you’re exhausted, unsure, and worried about bills, overwhelm can easily set in. So, where do you start?
Break it down
“When we sit and look at everything that’s not going well for us, it can feel totally overwhelming, knowing where to start feels almost impossible,” acknowledges life and career coach, Natalie Trice (natalietrice.co.uk). “Think about the times you’ve created massive resolutions to bring in the New Year – by doing that, you are putting even more pressure and stress on yourself, and it’s the same at the moment.
“Try to break things down into the various elements of your life and see where you are with each one. Using a simply wheel of life exercise, you can see how satisfied you are at work, with your health, your relationship, friends and family, as well as time to relax. In many cases, we find one or two things are OK but the rest could be really lacking – and then it’s a little like trying to drive a car with three flat tyres.”
Tackle one thing at a time
As Trice says: “You are only one person. Rather than trying to rebuild everything in your life, look at one thing that could make a difference and help get you back on track. Maybe talk to your manager about more flexible working, ask your partner for more support with the kids, or download an app and schedule a workout every day. Doing nothing keeps us stuck where we are, so doing one small thing will get us on the path to change.”
What’s really draining your energy right now?
It’s easy to fall into a rut, getting more and more drained. A new job or more money might be the goal – but looking at what’s going on ‘around’ those things could really help. “This is so important,” says Trice. “You can’t just put on a pair of trainers and run a marathon: this takes times, planning, training and dedication, and even that can be a challenge.
Michael Agyei, life coach and CEO of Inside Job Academy (michaelagyei.com), adds that it’s human nature to get to one goal, and then quickly want to move towards another: “This is why maintaining a balanced life and enjoying life around the goal is important for your mental health and wellbeing. Having time to relax will make you a more rounded individual.”
Become a budgeting pro
Money is such a big stressor right now and plays a huge part in feeling stuck and anxious. Alongside the big stuff (seeking help with debts and bills and seeing what support you might be eligible for if you are really struggling), the power of getting a sense of control over your finances cannot be underestimated.
“Having better money habits and working on your own personal finance journey – be it budgeting or saving – can help ease financial worries, provide clarity on what’s important to you financially (and where to prioritise in terms of saving AND spending money) and overall bring greater financial confidence when it comes to making decisions,” says ‘Personal Finance Cheerleader’ Jessie Leong, who shares relatable budgeting tips on her Instagram page @howifundthis.
“While we often find tackling our finances to be daunting and overwhelming to begin with, it’s often really empowering to have that sense of direction, control and understanding.”
Find your purpose
“Understanding what you stand for and what you want and need from work and home is the foundation to living a meaningful life,” says coach Ayesha Murray (ayeshamurray.com). “You can start by looking at these four areas (taken from the Japanese Ikigai model) to find those things that tick more than one of the boxes: What do you love? What are you good at? What brings you joy? What can you be paid for?”
Agyei agrees a sense of purpose is huge. “It gives meaning to why you are doing what you are doing and guides and sustains you. Even when you have setbacks and everything seems to be turning upside-down, a sense of purpose gives you stability and a sense of direction,” says Agyei. “It is also foundational to improving your overall wellbeing, because without a sense of purpose, you often don’t feel much fulfilment in life.”
Don’t worry if you’re unsure what that sense of purpose is for you. To help identify it, Agyei suggests trying mindfulness meditation, journaling (see what’s coming through as important for you), exploring your passions and getting clear on your gifts and strengths.
It might also help to consider “the people you love and admire the most, and think back to the best and most painful times in your life” – what might this tell you about your values and drives?
Do more of what brings you joy
Too much stress and graft is a recipe for burnout. Plus, it might take a long time to reach big goals – could we enjoy the journey a little more? “It sounds simple, but most of us don’t spend enough time doing what we love,” says Murray.
“We put our needs at the bottom of the list, allowing family, home and work commitments to take over. But we have to put on our own oxygen mask first before helping others. Once you’ve thought about what brings you real joy, decide on the first small step to make it happen and commit to doing that tomorrow.”
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