Incremental changes for big gains….
You have the power to change your life. You can change your thought process. You can change how you deal with things. You can take control of how you feel about things. You can take a monumental hardcore time in your life and get through it. With adapting the way you think about things. You can!
When something in life is so crazily overwhelming and gives you the feeling that you are completely losing control in the most magnificent way. When you’re gasping for breath because of anxiety, fear, dread, grief. There comes a time when you have to take stock and deal with the barrage of shit that’s been presented to you. I’ve been there. We all have.
You and only you can make changes. And only you know when the time is right to do so. There’s no one size fits all. How you do this though is another question. Because it is hard. We are not robots. Instead we have a myriad of psychological responses to life’s events. Daily pressures, a plethora of emotions, unexpected events, trauma, illness and even some of the best occasions ever in our lives can cause an overwhelming feeling. The feeling that you are not coping and that things are too much. We have a wealth of experiences that make us feel and act certain ways. This makes us so unique but yet can present obstacles and barriers in our lives too.
I remember a time over recent years, albeit briefly and in spurts where I had the feeling that my life was completely flooded with emotion and overwhelmed beyond measure at life. There were some days where I felt like all I did was cry. Laying in bed paralysed by the shit storm that is cancer. I wasn’t crying all day. But I felt like I was. Because it was all too much. Things were so far off the Richter scale that I felt there was no way to salvage the situation or that things could ever get better. That feeling of ultimate dread was something I just dealt with. It was an acceptance that I would deal with anything that came my way. I chose my mindset that this was not going to destroy me. Looking back I was surrounded with so much love and happiness and wonderful positive events with and from those close to me, that I was able to manage those feelings. That positivity in my life helped massively. But I do still know that feeling of when something just feels ‘too much’.
I had to learn very quickly how to adapt, to put things into perspective and acknowledge that I did have the power to get through everything. And so many others have done the same. To their advantage. How incredibly hard that is though. Some days it felt like an impossible task. It requires such discipline and self belief to persevere through life’s crappy dealings. But we can all do it. If you’re going through something major right now, know that you can do it. You will be ok and you will get through it. Do not compare yourself to others and their lives. Focus on you.
Throughout my diagnosis I must admit, every now and again I was grief stricken at the scale of what was happening to me. I thought I couldn’t cope. Thankfully this feeling wasn’t constant but it still reared its ugly head when I least expected it. It was just too much. I learnt over time that I couldn’t approach my life with that thought process. I had to make changes.
To get by and cope I looked at every single part of my treatment and recovery as smaller scenarios. Little bite sizes of one-by-one ticking off the list. Day-by-day depositing another appointment letter to my file. Every individual meeting, drug, treatment, recovery plan, pain was dealt with individually. Some days it felt like it was all happening at once. And that was because it was. But it was still tackled one by one. I celebrated when each part was over. Ready to move onto the next part. I wanted to win. To succeed in getting better. To survive. I celebrate milestones to this day of individual victories in my life.
Breaking things down into smaller doses definitely helps with dealing with something so bonkers. It makes things more realistic. It gives you a sense of achievement when you’ve completed or got through something. It gives a satisfaction when you shout those mighty words ‘I’ve got this’. The next piece has been put in place ready to move onto the next part of the jigsaw. As the saying goes marginal gains can result in the biggest of wins.
This process can be applied to all aspects of life. Whether it’s professionally or privately. With family, friends, with a project or an event. In the corporate world the Kaizen approach is often used. A Japanese concept of ‘changing for the better’. It’s all about continuous improvement. It’s a really powerful way to approach work and to get maximum benefit out of your daily and weekly routine. It allows you to take what you want to achieve and make it more believable. It helps with personal growth and development. I think a superb tool for building confidence. This approach can also be applied to getting through personal trauma, illness or difficulty.
The notion of continuous growth and development for the greater good or changing to make a moment in time better is so powerful. It’s something we can all adopt to get maximum benefits out of living. There have been many times over the past few years where breaking things down has meant success. In getting better and getting through treatment. It has also helped massively with taking on big events or challenges. For example conquering marathon running whilst still in active treatment. At first, that was a silly mammoth idea that, although I knew I could do it, was just completely nuts. But with some careful planning and breaking the training down into achievable segments, it worked.
This way of thinking has also helped with many other aspects of my life. Every time something is presented to me that I consider to be too much I always try to break it down into sections. I very rarely look at a big task now and think I can’t do it. Not to say it doesn’t happen ever but for the vast majority of cases it starts off with a ‘can-do’ approach. This attitude is something we can all adopt. To help with all areas of our lives.
Some key areas where this way of thinking has helped and it can for you too is; My fitness, completing events, my body image, my hair, my nutrition, my overall health, my strength, my learnings/education, my professional life, my house, my relationships. At some point all of these areas have required dealing with it on a smaller scale to benefit in the bigger win. It hasn’t been easy. It’s been so very hard. But it can make such a difference to your life.
See about breaking that problem down into sections. Smaller more easy to deal with doses. It could be making things a daily task rather than weekly. It could be blocking out time to plan. It could be giving yourself smaller targets. For example if you know you want to lose 5 inches from your waist, don’t keep thinking of the end goal. Break it down into 1/2 inch targets. If you want to learn to run. Don’t feel like you have to run 10km on the first day. Gradual, building up with smaller distances. If you want to run a 10km and have never run before break it down into smaller targets. You’ll be pleasantly surprised about how good this approach feels. It will give you far more achievements and successes than not.
The most important thing is that you look after yourself. That you are kind to yourself. That you are an individual and things may take time. You are not the same as the next person. What have you got in your life that is just too much and seems like it is taking over your life?
Try breaking that down into smaller marginal gains. Give it a try.