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We make over 20,000 decisions a day. No wonder we’re overwhelmed and worn out! That’s a lot to filter through and decide on. Some of these decisions are micro, and some of them could change the direction of our life. I was in bondage to the people around me and their expectations of me. Feeling stuck and insecure in myself, I pushed through each day wishing for a life that had more rest, more peace, and more courage to stand up for the course I wanted my life to take. As the activities and obligations stacked up, they created a recipe for a stressed-out body and an overwhelmed soul.
My inability to say no put my life on a trajectory that brought many challenges, including having my body start to shut down from all the stress. I ignored it, however, and pushed through, hoping that the physical effects would go away and that I would eventually have the courage to chart a path that I could thrive in. But I was too afraid to push back against people’s expectations of me. People-pleasing had gotten the best of me.
So what changed? I was shown that there is a better way – facing the decision in front of me, rather than ignoring it. It IS possible to have a healthy relationship with those around you and to make decisions that allow you to thrive, at the same time. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. You can organize your life in such a way that accomplishes both these goals and allows your decision-making process to be easier, as well. This can flow into the tangible act of organizing the space around you, but it starts inside of you.
Here are four key elements that you can incorporate into organizing your life for easier decision making:
If you don’t know what is important to you, it’s hard to figure out how to prioritize your life. What do you value most in life? When you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a step back to evaluate how you are prioritizing and making decisions. This can bring some much-needed clarity about the big picture of your situation. Get your thoughts and ideas out of your head. Talk it through with a trusted friend, or write out everything you’re being overwhelmed by. Releasing your overwhelming thoughts into words or onto paper can help you process the situation through a different perspective and juxtapose it with your “why” in life, instead of being overcome by a small piece of the bigger picture.
Be honest with where you are at in life, be willing to set boundaries, and to say no. Four years ago, I read a fantastic book called “The Best Yes” by Lysa Terkurst (thebestyes.com and Questions to Ask When Making a Decision). She writes that when we say yes to one thing, we are saying no to something else. What are you currently saying no to that you need to be saying yes to? Or saying yes to that you should be saying no to? Learning to discover what is essential can be freeing.
Finding the “best yes” is not always an easy black-and-white answer. Often it’s a choice between better and best. The decisions you make shape your life and indicate what is important to you. You are not truly able to multi-task. You just get little bits of yourself split between many different tasks. The idea of focusing on many things at once is a myth. Spend time evaluating what is essential and don’t try to be doing a thousand things at once. Your yes, or your no, can be the difference between transitioning from overwhelm into burnout, or from overwhelm into a place of feeling empowered and victorious in the responsibilities you’ve been given.
I realized that my habits around decision making were not serving me well. They revolved more around giving up my power, rather than stepping into it to make the world a better place. I learned about a series of questions to ask myself when faced with a decision, to assess my resources. My resources are the energy and time output that the decision would require from me.
The series of questions that you can ask yourself is: “Is this a task/event that I currently have the capacity to be present in with my… finances? Physical energy? Emotional energy? mental energy? Spiritually?” You can journal this, write it out on a whiteboard, or even process with a spouse or friend. Bouncing it off someone else can give you that external sounding board to see if you’re assessing your resources accurately. Creating a deeply rooted habit of asking these questions can save you from a yes that you don’t actually have the capacity to be fully present for in this season of life.
It’s important to have fun and enjoy life! Taking time to reflect and celebrate the progress you’ve made can be quite encouraging. Reward yourself for choosing to make healthy choices and being good to yourself. Keep a heart of gratitude for what you’ve learned. When the focus is not completely on what you are doing, it can bring a new perspective. Celebrate your life, and what you’ve gone through, by sharing it with others!
Decision making may be challenging at times, but it doesn’t need to be horrible. You can implement these four practices for organizing your life of knowing your values, evaluating your best yes, creating habits that work, and celebrating the little wins, to set the healthy boundaries for decisions that you, and those around you, need to thrive. Now, remember, this is a practice. These are habits that are developed by repetition in small increments every day. They don’t magically become second nature all at once. But if you intentionally take the time to incorporate them into your way of living, it will become a practice that will serve you for the rest of your life!
Written by Jessica Hardin, Interior Designer, Organizing Strategist and Creator of the Organized Homebody membership
One For Women is honored to have Jessica Hardin, Interior Designer, Organizing Strategist and Creator of the Organized Homebody membership, share her voice and her important message as part of our One Voice to Hear series.