Last week I thought myself into a black hole of despair. It wasn’t depression. It was me being faced with a bunch of challenges at once – one of those when it rains it pours kinds of situations – and convincing myself that there was no way out. There is always a way out. It’s just that sometimes it can feel like too much. We feel overwhelmed. But overwhelm isn’t having too many things to do. It’s not knowing what to do next. And in these situations, we often paralyze ourselves because instead of focusing on an action we can take, we become obsessed with the perfect action. We want to do the thing we can do that will guarantee success. We don’t want to fail, and so rather than go with an action that might not be the “right” action, we opt for… absolutely nothing. This is, of course, the biggest failure at all. Because even the “wrong” action is more than doing nothing. You know why we don’t want to fail? Because we attach the failure to accomplish something successfully to our self-worth. It’s not that we failed to do something effectively. It’s that we are failures. This is the kind of thinking that keeps you stuck where you are. And it’s the type of thinking that doesn’t help us make any forward progress at all. So the cycle of inaction (and the self-loathing that often accompanies it) continues. Here’s what you need to know. When you get to that place of overwhelm – not a place of depression but a place of I don’t think I’m going to make it through this – you don’t need to figure out the perfect solution. You just need to do something. So what did I do last week after I had a good, long, hard cry? And then another one? I talked myself OUT of the hole I had dug, one little action at a time. First, I talked to someone. Actually I talked to a whole bunch of people. I talked to my E-School members. I showed them exactly what I was going through. And then I went live on the Not Your Average Mom page. It wasn’t because I needed any reassurance. It was more to just get the feelings out. To let them pass through me. And to remind everyone that we all have lows. We all struggle. And it’s okay. After I had a good cleansing cry, I did the thing I knew would have the biggest impact on my mindset. I took a shower. Then I dried my hair and put on some mascara and some clean clothes. Part of the reason I got myself so worked up was because I had procrastinated – BIG TIME – and I had painted myself into a corner. The next step for most people might be to tackle a work-related task. But that was going to require way too much mental energy, and I wasn’t quite there yet. So I went with something that was going to give me an immediate return on my investment. Something I could do that would allow me to see progress and results instantly. I made my bed and hung up, folded, and put away the clean laundry that had been sitting in a basket on the floor of my room for a couple days. My room was clean and I was clean and I felt much better. I was in a place where I was able to think a little more clearly. And that enabled me to figure out what the next best step was. If you are finding yourself in a place of major (or minor) overwhelm, start with the easy stuff. The low hanging fruit as they call it. Take a shower. Put on clean clothes. Then take care of the easiest tasks first. These small wins have a compound effect. They remind you that you are capable. They help to change the direction of your thoughts. And once you change the direction of your thoughts, then you are on your way.